Built by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) in 1977, Rochor Centre comprises a three-storey building of shops and offices, and four blocks of flats each painted in different shades of blue, green, red and yellow. For the past decades, the brightly coloured flats have become an iconic landmark at Rochor area, bounded by Sungei Rochor, Bugis Village and Sim Lim Square.
The flats at Rochor Centre began like any other flats elsewhere in Singapore, with the normal white appearances. It was not until the early 1990s when they became the iconic buildings of the Rochor area after being painted with the four bright colours in an upgrading program.
Out of the 180 shops at Rochor Centre, 15 are involved in the business of ceremonial goods, selling traditional religious materials such as joss sticks, kim zua (paper money) and candles. This provides convenience for the Taoist devotees that regularly visit the famous Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple at Waterloo Street, which is only 350m away. Others are provision shops, beauty salons, hardware shops, eateries and kopitiam, where the popular Song Fa Bak Kut Teh is located.
Many of the tenants moved to Rochor Centre when their former shops at Blanco Court was acquired in 1997 to become the private general hospital Raffles Hospital.
Some of the shops and offices have been operating here since the first day of the opening of Rochor Centre, including this Hokkien association Sin Chew Hu Chi Sia. One of its honorary chairman was Chinese banker Ho Pao Jen 何葆仁 (1895-1978), who was also the principal of The Chinese High School between 1925 and 1928, and was actively involved in the anti-Japanese resistance during the Second World War.
At the ground floor of Rochor Centre, a fortune telling machine and a weighing machine have been standing there for years. These old school machines, however, fail to attract the attention of the passers-by these days.
In November 2011, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and Singapore Land Authority (SLA) announce that the land where Rochor Centre is situated will be acquired to make way for the new North-South Expressway, which means the 34-year-old Rochor Centre and its trademark flats will be demolished by 2016. The nearby Victoria Street Wholesale Centre will also be torn down.
Published: 18 November 2011
Updated: 01 August 2016