Heritage Building: Goh Loo Club balances old and new
For a decade, the 112-year-old Goh Loo Club at 72 Club Street, once a hotbed of activity, stood in disrepair among hip bars and restaurants. In a bid to stay relevant and attract younger members, members who took over in 2012 decided to revitalise the club, which was formed as a gathering place for the local Chinese community. Many of Singapore's founding fathers such as Dr Lim Boon Keng, who was also a writer, and prominent businessman and philanthropist Lee Kong Chian were members.
The club premises – a 998 sq m, three-storey shophouse that was gazetted for conservation in July 1989 – underwent a 16-month renovation. It was completed in April last year at a cost of $3.8 million. The building's original timber louvre windows, interior brick walls and timber structures, joints and flooring were restored. The original interior colonial- style columns were also uncovered when timber panels concealing them were removed.
1. MURAL PAINTING ON FACADE
The mural was added during the renovation and features the faces of the club's late members and Chinese revolutionary figure Sun Yat Sen. It was painted by Singaporean artists Benny Ong, Zhao Jian Wen and Didier Ng, and is meant to depict what the club was like when dignitaries visited. Of the samsui woman, Mr Alex Tan, 71, a committee member of the club, says it is symbolic of the working-class Chinese community and represents the pioneer members' hard work and determination in carving out a new life in Singapore.
2. TIMBER LOUVRE WINDOWS AND "BASKETBALL SCENE" GRILLES
Before the original timber louvre windows were restored, they were aluminium sliding windows. The windows were painted green to match the building's original green balustrades, but Mr Tan says the original colour would have been greyish.
On the first floor, the window grilles reflect scenes of people playing basketball and were added in the 1950s. The Basketball Association of Singapore occupied the first floor from 1946 to 1970.
3. ORIGINAL INTERIOR COLUMNS, BRICK WALLS AND TIMBER FEATURES
During the restoration, the original bricks were salvaged and pieced together to line the wall in the multi- purpose space on the third floor.
The columns, once hidden by timber panels, were discovered only during the restoration. As the columns are no longer strong enough to support the building on their own, steel beams were added to the building structure.
The original timber structure and floors were restored and can be seen on the second and third floors.