Mar 30, 2011

Answer to Quiz (10) - A Strange Tower in Town

Quiz photo from the archives

MPH Building (Vanguard Building)

Many took part in Quiz 10 if you count in the anonymous comments. Now, before I reveal the answer, I let you have a second shot last shot at it. Observe the second photo above carefully. Do you have the answer now?

Today the former MPH Building at the corner of Armenian Street and Stamford Road is a conserved building, its Edwardian blood-and-bandage architecture admired by and much photographed from the front. Admittedly the back view does not look like anything from the front and this is why the notable landmark which I gave as a clue escaped many people scrutinizing the quiz photo.

Behind Stamford Court
Our strange tower

Initially, FL and Chun See thought the tower is a foreign workers' dormitory. I do not think so; at least the tower is not in Kaki Bukit or Upper Jurong Road, as verified by Chun See. The absence of windows will make it very stuffy for the workers; besides, do they need to live in a bastion?

Behind Stamford Court
Behind Stamford Court

Anon of 13032011-1149hrs was the first to give the correct answer and a very precise one - behind Stamford Court. Then other anons chipped in and gave the correct answer. Peter elaborated on the heritage of the place, including the fact that 30 Hill Street was once the American Embassy. Its satellite dish can be seen in the quiz photo. He could not recall the name of the building that used to sit on the empty land in the quiz photo. The building is actually Eu Court where former Barisan Sosialis leader Lee Siew Choh had a clinic. Today Stamford Court is built on the same site and our National Heritage Board have their office in the building.

Map overview of the area. The strange tower is surrounded by other buildings so it is not very visible to the public. I have blogged about the former Mayfair Hotel. (Source: OneMap)

Stamford Road/Hill Street Junction
The obligatory second shot from me, taken from the opposite side of Stamford Road. You can see a bit of the back of former MPH Building at the photo's right edge.

Former US Embassy, Hill Street
Former US Embassy in the 1960s mentioned by Peter. 30 Hill Street today looks similar so is it the same building or did they demolish and built another one? (Source: NAS)

Well done to everyone who tried. Congratulations to those who got it right. There were, however, two parts to the quiz and nobody could answer the second part to satisfaction. What is this tower really?

I have to confess here I do not know the answer either. There is no clue from the street directory; other than the address (12 Loke Yew Street), we do not know much about the building. Now that we know the location, does anyone have more information on this strange tower in town?

Behind Stamford Court
I took the following shots just yesterday night. From the walkway under Stamford Court where there is an opening to the street behind, the tower looked monstrous compared to the cars, not to mention a bit eerie too.

Behind Stamford Court
What I saw on one side of the tower (the side facing former MPH Building) baffled me - it was not a windowless wall any more!

Behind Stamford Court
Note the reserved space in front. In the end I still could not fathom the purpose of this tower.


Peter wrote in his comments the strange tower is a power substation. Andrew from One° North Explorers was kind enough to verify it. However it is still a little confusing to me. The address of the strange tower is 12 Loke Yew Street but there is no Loke Yew Street on the notice.

The notice reveals a substation along Armenian Street. I hope it is not referring to this one.


Lam Chun See said...

Alamak. Yesterday, I walked past this place and still did not see the answer :(

Keith said...

Must be a power transformer. Or nuclear reactor, looks like one of those in Fukushima !!

Lam Chun See said...

Maybe we Sporeans started the birds nest thingy long before the Malaysians. LOL.

Icemoon said...

Haha, maybe a modern day bird nest tower, to attract the birds from Fort Canning Hill.

I doubt it is a power transformer. Never see any warning/danger sign.

peter said...

According to the security guards, # 12 is Singapore Power power sub-station. There are camera surveillance equipment around.

Icemoon said...

Oh, what a tall power sub-station! Thanks to Peter for investigating.

Andrew said...

Peter is fast! :)

Icemoon said...

Andrew, if you decide to publish your findings, must put a link here hor!

Andrew said...

No lah you can go ahead and use that photo. :)

Icemoon said...

Updated with Andrew's photo. Thanks Andrew!

happy camper said...

the notice is referring to the sub-station along Armenian street, whereas the sub-station is obviously along Loke Yew Street. Its a totally different street, therefore #12 clearly isn't a power station. Perhaps, it has been used to store something so important that it has to remain oblivous without any signage of what building it is, maybe accessed underground if it is doorless. Does it have a visible door from any side? All substations have doors to repair cables, and are labelled as substations?