Although it is not as colourful as the shophouses in the Kampong Glam area, there is a simple elegance to the S.A.T. Alsagoff Building located at 10 Pahang Street (at the Indian curry kopitiam facing the open air carpark).

Sleek lines dominate its facade. Dark latticed windows stand out against clean white walls.

The only decorative touches to the white columns along its five-foot-way are black rectangular cornices at the top, and the only pop of colour on the two-storey building comes from the green and orange glass above the windows on the second floor.

Less Eye-Catching, But Has A Rich Heritage

Although this building is less eye-catching than many others in Kampong Glam, it has a rich heritage.

The street block, which spreads out over half of Pahang Street and has a gross floor area of 2,300 sq m, was built by the late wealthy Arab businessman Syed Abdulrahman Taha Alsagoff (born 1880, deceased 1955). He was also known as Engku Aman.

Built by Arab Businessman Syed Abdulrahman Taha Alsagoff

On the roof gable is an inscription with his name and the year of the building’s completion, 1935.

The building was initially a mixed-use development with residential and office spaces, but is now mainly leased out for commercial use.

Attained Conservation Status in 1989

The building was gazetted for conservation in 1989 together with the Kampong Glam area.

Of the understated building, Urban Redevelopment Authority conservation planner Lai Si Ying says: “Kampong Glam tends to be associated with the livelier streets of Haji Lane, Arab Street and Bussorah Mall.

“Most do not realise that this quieter part of Kampong Glam is also steeped in history.”

Pediment with Restored Inscriptions

As part of the restoration works guided by the Urban Redevelopment Authority in 1995, the inscription “S.A.T Alsagoff” and “1935”, the year the building was completed, were reinstated on top of the building. The logo and words were remoulded from plaster.

Art Deco Shophouse with Residential Front

The building has a protected residential front – there are no huge display windows or wide entryways. Instead, it has a central double-leaf door flanked by windows with bars, which were likely a security feature.

This kind of design was typically used for shophouses that were for residential use or businesses that did not require an open display of goods.

Climate-Suited Features

The coloured glass, which is fitted above the timber louvre windows on the second floor, softens tropical light that enters the building.

To facilitate air flow, there are pre-cast concrete ventilation blocks above the windows on the first and second floors. Concrete ledges above the windows help to shelter inhabitants from the elements.

This article first appeared in The Straits Times in 2017.