An unostentatious neighborhood situated in the Western part of Singapore, Holland Village has transcended from its Channel 8 drama fame brought upon by the beguiling Chen Li Ping’s ice-cream soda infused nasi lemak [coconut rice] into a beloved hot spot for locals and expatriates alike for a quick respite from the bustling downtown.

While visiting Holland Village for its nasi lemak isn’t wholly part of the appeal, the streets exude an old-school Singaporean charm, with 2-storey shophouses dotting the crescent-shaped space housing an assortment of watering holes and eateries that range from the reasonably priced to the exorbitant.

Holland Village’s diversity holds a strong allure that has not escaped the recognition of governmental bodies. On Dec 5 last year, the Housing Development Board (HDB) and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) announced that the 2.3-hectare site would be put up for sale this month. As part of the Master Plan 2014, developers are invited to submit plans to increase the area’s attraction.

It is in our country’s nature to hustle for modernity and gleaming skyscrapers, often at the expense of our history and heritage. When a country is celebrated for its gilded progress instead of its inherent cultural nuances, wherein does the need to preserve our roots come into consideration? UrbanWire looks at Holland Village’s (disappearing) charm.


Patrons, workers, establishment owners and residents of Holland Village are collectively on the fence regarding the purported redevelopment.

Nicole Noakes, 19, has been a resident of the adjacent HDB estate (Block 18B) since 2013, visiting the area since she was 12. While she believes the revamp could posit some perks for the area, she worries about the downside affecting residents here as well.


“Since Holland Village has been around for ages, if they start to change it, the novelty may be lost which might upset many. House prices will increase too, and that would make things tougher for those renting homes here, like my family,” she shares.


On the thread of family, Peter, 69 is street-side shoe repairman who plies his trade outside Crystal Jade restaurant for the past 38 years. He expresses confusion at the change.


As the sole breadwinner for his family of 3, Peter asked this writer forlornly, “Where would I go?” He sips his coffee with a tinge of resignation. “I guess all of us [referring to the surrounding peddlers] will keep working until we have to leave.”


Hayley, 40, is a subsidiary owner of Richard Vinyl Records Corner. Situated next to the wet market, this store is the family’s fourth establishment in the vinyl and vintage accessories business.


Hayley was not aware of the redevelopment plans, but resolutely states that the 6 month old store intends to stay open for another 6 years. Here, the store sells old trinkets and accessories from yesteryears.


Once the sun sets, it becomes apparent why Channel News Asia touted Holland Village as Singapore’s “bohemian enclave”. The bars are flooded with people enjoying the various happy hour offerings.


“It’s conveniently located, where the people are friendly, and there’s great food, music and most importantly the drink prices don’t hurt my wallet too much!” said Christie Yeo, 19, when asked about her patronization of the resident bar stretch.

In a Channel News Asia article posted Nov 30 last year, CEO of property firm Century 21, Ku Swee Yong stated that concept plans should take the neighborhood’s character into consideration so the structural changes won’t fall into the unfortunate bracket of being “plain vanilla cookie-cutter”.

That statement could serve to assuage some of the concerns that Holland Village may be robbed of the integrity of its innate ambiance and character. The future of the site’s social and architectural make up remains to be seen until further releases by the respective authorities, but a common consensus among its regular patrons, like Christopher Yee, 26, remains staunchly loyal.

“I love this place so much, simply because it does not need to change,” he said with a quiet sigh before returning to his beer, as his companions nod in solidarity.

Photos taken with a Nikon D3100.