Analogue Around Town: Open House at Zion Road

2012-08-05 3

Some of you might be familiar with Zion Road and its public housing estate. During its golden years, Zion Road was surrounded with iconic landmarks like the Great World Amusement Park, Kim Seng Plaza and Times House. These landmarks eventually gave way to modern-day condominiums and establishments.

The Zion Road public housing estate once housed many residents, mostly families from the older generations, and has stood strong through the passage of time. Sadly, the estate has been en-bloc and will soon be demolished.

Matthew Ong and Joash Ong, men behind Bottle of Gems organized a Open House at Zion Road, inviting people to spend their weekend savouring and reminiscing one of Singapore’s older public housing estates.
At Matthew’s cosy little home, they served refreshments in vintage housewares by the tipping system.

Brought along my Diana F+ and Diana Mini, I invited the guests at the open house to capture the nostalgic moment. Wanna know more about the story of Zion Road? Read on.

1. Can you tell us a little bit about Zion Road?
Zion Road actually started off as the first few flats in the area that were used to re-house people from the so-called ‘kampongs’ in the 1960s by the then newly established Housing and Development Board. It was to solve housing issues caused by the two Bukit Ho Swee big fires back in the 1960s. During its golden years, Zion Road was surrounded with iconic landmarks like the GreatWorld Amusement Park, Kim Seng Plaza and Times House. These landmarks eventually gave way to modern-day condominiums and establishments.

Credits: meerly

2. Describe your memory about Zion Road as if it were a still photograph.
A unanimous decision by the two of us will be the memory of the coffee-shop at Block 89. It was a great place to go to for coffee during the day. It was old, but had great lighting. Mornings were soft with the growing breakfast bustle; mid-days, with stronger sun-light and heat from the day and from the lunch crowd. A light breeze sends the white-and-blue-striped canopy and worn posters fluttering lightly. And for a few months before the coffee-shop’s closure, the mood was amplified by Mandarin oldies being played as background music.

The coffee-shop had a great mix of people, like older residents, cab-uncles, working crowd and even tourists at times. Uncles and aunties will be chatting and gossiping animatedly while taking the occasional sip of their coffee or tea. Tables there are big, hence sharing of tables were common, indirectly starting conversations between strangers.

3. What is Bottle of Gems?
Bottle of Gems is essentially about heritage and lifestyle. We realised how little locals appreciated heritage. Heritage can come in different forms, and ours from the starting-up of Bottle of Gems, came in the form of Housewares and Eyeglasses. As an online business, photographs will naturally and inadvertently become a medium. However, we hope that with our photographic expression, our items’ potential can be fully-utilised. We put in effort with our monthly sessions so as to allow all to recognise each and every item’s beauty and history. And yes, we do hope that each and every precious item will be looked after properly in their next homes.

Credits: meerly

Another form of heritage, besides actual belongings or items, can come in the form of our way of life as well. With modern science and technology,life has become convenient in many aspects. Items are often manufactured inbulk and modern machinery can often be seen in the kitchen. Hence, we strive to move further into that aspect with handmade products and our homemade kopi and teh was a start.

Credits: meerly

4. Why did you organize this event?
The reason why the two of us organised this event would be to heighten the awareness of the understated. Heritage was found to be understated, as mentioned before, and Zion Road seemed to be experiencing the same thing aswell despite its prime location and history. So we hoped that through the event, people will know about the estate and its closure. Also, we found that it would be a benefit to explorers interested in the estate, since it would be a rare chance for them to actually get to dwell in an actual unit and to take it all in.

Credits: meerly

Lastly, it would be for education. Despite the time spent at Zion Road, there’s only so much that could be learnt about the estate. Of course, basic research was carried out for background knowledge. But the event was carried out with the hopes of people sharing stories of the estate. As hosts we would pass it on to interested house-guests. By doing so, more meaning was given.

5. What is the story behind each furniture and object that you display at the open house?
Each and every object displayed actually used to belong to another household, forsaken for modern-day furniture constructed with poor quality wood. If we could, we would have salvaged all of the beauties, as furniturewhich is dumped would usually end up getting hacked and sold to wood-buyersetc. unfortunately.

6. You make very good TEHPENG and KOPI PENG, what’s your recipe?


2 tbsp Condensed Milk (Or to taste)

2 tbsp Tea Powder (Train brand Tea Dust as used and it can be bought certain supermarkets. *We simply love their boxes by the way.)

*Amount of water will vary according to glass proportions


2 tbsp Condensed Milk (Or to taste)

2 tbsp Coffee Powder (Highly recommended to go to a wet market coffee grinder, where you can chat up the uncle and get some useful tips along the way!)

*Amount of water will vary according to glass proportions

As you can see, the recipe is only in a general perspective as proportions play a crucial role, especially for us, since we were offering the drinks in vintage housewares of different shapes and sizes. One is to note as well that there are recipes which add evaporated milk to coffee and tea, it is really up to personal preferences. A lot of experimentation is needed to achieve ‘the’ cup of coffee, and we are constantly trying out new stuff ourselves too!

Patience will be a major factor as well especially for using small drink-socks, but it has definitely been fun for us after getting the hang of it!

Credits: meerly

7. Do you believe in analogue? What is your favorite analogue moment?
That will be a unanimous “yes”! It is our preferred way of life, if given a choice. We tend to try doing things the analogue way so as to be able to appreciate every step of the process. One good example will be analogue photography, since both of us like using analogue cameras. To us, analogue is life, where a moment in life will be gone once you miss it.

The favourite moment will be after pressing the shutter of the camera. With anaogue cameras, there are no previews; hence, the anticipation of the desired frame escalates. After the development of the tiny roll of film, we re-live the moments captured.

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written by meerly on 2012-08-05 #lifestyle #singapore-zion-road-nostalgic-tea-kopi-coffee-local-open-house-vintage-retro-memory-memories

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  1. lawypop
    lawypop ·

    The Good Old dayz!! thanks for sharing! :D

  2. meerly
    meerly ·

    @lawypop Thanks for liking! Too bad you will miss another good old dayz at Gallery Store! We are reminiscing our childhood on 9 Aug.

  3. glynchan
    glynchan ·

    Thanks for sharing! I used to live in a shophouse at Zion road. It's sad that they're demolishing those flats. That place is so charming.

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