Singapore

Photo series aims to whet appetite for architecture of hawker centres

Hawker centres are a haven for cheap and good food, but a new photo series aims to encourage and satisfy a different kind of hunger - for their architectural features.

These range from Tampines Round Market and Food Centre's circular roof to Pasir Ris Hawker Centre's wave-like metal facade. The online series by the National Heritage Board (NHB), titled Our Hawker Culture: Built For Great Taste, covers 12 hawker centres with more than 100 photos by four local photographers: Fabian Ong, Rebecca Toh, Khoo Guo Jie and Lee Yik Keat.

Among the hawker centres featured is the two-storey Geylang Serai Market and Food Centre, which is modelled after a Malay kampung house.

Built between 2006 and 2009 to replace the former Pasar Geylang Serai, the centre incorporates traditional motifs and has a tiered roof resembling that of a thatched house.

Mr Ong, who photographed three hawker centres in the east for the series, said participating in the project helped him see them from a new perspective.

For instance, when photographing Changi Village Hawker Centre, he climbed up stairwells of surrounding housing blocks to get a higher vantage point and saw the roof of the hawker centre, which reminded him of Japanese shrines.

Ms Toh said photographing hawker centres made her appreciate them more, as she got to see them "in the context of their neighbourhoods".

She saw how they served as a gathering place, especially for the elderly, and how they were like a community centre, helping people in the neighbourhood feel connected to one another.

"I hope that viewers can learn to see the beauty of hawker centres, even though they are not conventionally beautiful."

NHB said the photo series is part of its ongoing efforts to document and safeguard hawker culture. It can be accessed at go.gov.sg/built-for-great-taste. - THE STRAITS TIMES

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