Golden Mile Complex: Singapore’s Little Thailand
Architecturally, the building’s unique stepped-terrace design makes it a true standout in Singapore. Culturally, the lively scene in the complex and its vicinity shows that a visit to an ethnic enclave can feel like a day out of Singapore. Formerly known as the Woh Hup Complex, Golden Mile Complex was completed in 1973 at the cost of S$18 million.
Golden Mile Complex was one of the government’s pioneer urban renewal projects, of which centres and complexes were built to cater for both residential and commercial purposes. In its completion, the 16-storey building was considered to be a megastructure in the Beach Road area. It also received much praise by acclaimed architectural critics on the international scene. English architectural historian and author, Reynar Banham, once described it as an exemplary type of megastructure.
Design Partnership, the same firm behind People’s Park Centre, designed Golden Mile Complex. On their website, they provided an insight to the latter’s design concept:
“The building’s form responds to site conditions, climate, view and sun orientation, and circulation – its shallow, staggered profile provides each residential unit with protective shading necessary for housing in tropical climates, and enhances the performance of ventilation and daylight.”
The stepped terrace provides a panoramic view of the skyline and sea, owing to the building’s prime location between Beach Road and Nicoll Highway. One thing of interest is that Golden Mile Complex is mainly serviced by its rear entrance, with its front entrance facing Nicoll Highway. The staggering profile from the view at Nicoll Highway also gives it the moniker of the typewriter building.
Little Thailand in Singapore
Other than the many Singapore-Malaysia-Thailand bus and coach operators that line the Beach Road front, Golden Mile Complex is known to be a congregation point for the Thai community in Singapore. Specifically catering to this market, majority of the shops in the atrium are businesses, which include authentic Thai eateries, remittance centres, and a large Thai supermarket on the second floor.
There are also several convenience stores that sell Thai produce and products. At night, the many Chang and Singha-serving bars and discotheques come alive with karaoke machines and resident bands playing popular Thai music. Some find the night scene at Golden Mile Complex a little edgy while others like me love it for what it is – an authentic ethnic enclave with their local flavour.