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Marine Parade has the distinction of being Singapore’s first residential estate built entirely on reclaimed land. Sited in the east of Singapore, Marine Parade has a wide array of social amenities and recreational facilities, including the beaches on the east coast of the island. The public housing flats in the area are among the most coveted in Singapore and command high resale prices.
Area before reclamation
Before land reclamation extended the reach of Marine Parade, the area was originally part of Katong. The beachfront stretched from where Parkway Parade now stands to Martia Road. Private houses dotted the beachfront, while the public areas were popular with swimmers and picnickers who patronised the hawker food stalls there. Kelongs (wooden offshore platforms for fishing) stood in the sea around Marine Parade.
After the Japanese Occupation, the beach regained its popularity, and a range of recreational and societal activities including open-air church services and meetings of Buddhist groups were conducted at Marine Parade. The beach was in poor condition, however, with unexploded Japanese shells, debris and oil slicks affecting the area. The British army carried out regular clean-up efforts, and politicians like independent city councillor J. M. Jumabhoy began calling for the development of a promenade and facilities like changing rooms for the public.
In 1951, there was a dispute between the colonial government and the city council as to who was responsible for the repair of a seawall at Marine Parade that had deteriorated to such an extent that a nearby road was in danger of collapsing into the sea. The dispute was resolved the following year, and the city council was allocated an additional $400,000 to develop Marine Parade. The council acquired the land and constructed a seaside promenade with changing room facilities, pavements, seating for the public and streetlights, completing the work in mid-1955.
As part of a multi-phase project, land reclamation works began at Marine Parade in 1966. Hills at Bedok and Siglap were levelled for their earth, 20,000 cubic metres of which were moved via conveyor belt to the sea each day. Sand was also sourced from abroad and by 1970, some 405 hectares of land had been added to the coastline.
The reclamation project featured one of the first large-scale uses of artificial headland breakwaters anywhere in the world. These breakwaters mimicked natural formations of bays along coastlines, and created headlands between which beaches formed. This method was simpler and less expensive than the traditional utilisation of sea walls to protect reclaimed land from wave action and beach erosion. Before they were used at Marine Parade from 1968, artificial headland breakwaters had only been tried as small-scale laboratory exercises.
By 1985, 1,525 hectares of land including the recreational beachfront of the East Coast had been added to the coastline, enlarging it by some 18 kilometres. The reclamation works cost around S$613 million. The costs were considered so prohibitive for public housing use that in 2006, Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, Member of Parliament for Marine Parade, ruled out the prospect of another public housing estate created entirely from reclaimed land.
In mid-1971, the government unveiled its development plan for the area and began road construction and other infrastructural works. Marine Parade was zoned for recreational and low-density residential use, and the plan included the construction of an expressway parallel to the coastline and connecting the city to the east, the East Coast Parkway. Besides the public housing project that would become Marine Parade estate, a number of plots of land were sold by tender to private developers for condominiums. A town centre and other commercial facilities were also planned.
By the end of 1973, the Housing Development Board (HDB) had completed the first phase of the estate development. The flats were of the two, three, four and five-room varieties, numbering 6,000 units, and a market, shops and offices were also constructed. The second phase of the project would add more commercial and community facilities, including more shops, schools hawker centres, a post office, library and additional public housing.
The first 1,038 flats at Marine Parade estate were opened for balloting in March 1974. Three-room units were priced at S$13,500, and five-room ones at S$35,500. By 1976, the estate was completed at a cost of S$124.79 million. There were a total of 57 blocks of 8,015 flats and 99 shops, alongside office spaces, recreational and community facilities across 42 hectares, accommodating around 40,000 residents.
By the 1980s, Marine Parade was regarded as one of the most desirable places to live due to its seafront, recreational and commercial facilities and ambience. This was reflected by rising prices for resale flats in the area – three-room units which cost S$13,500 originally had risen to around S$50,000 in 1988 and over S$140,000 in 1995. In 1992, Marine Parade became the first estate in Singapore to undergo the Main Upgrading Programme, the government’s scheme to upgrade ageing estates.
The Marine Parade ward was created in 1976, and Goh Chok Tong, the former Prime Minister of Singapore, has been its Member of Parliament since. In 1988, the town was incorporated into the Marine Parade Group Representative Constituency (GRC), together with the areas of Braddell Heights, Geylang Serai, Kaki Bukit, Kampong Ubi-Kembangan, MacPherson, Marine Parade and Mountbatten.
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East Coast property prices one of the highest. (1983, November 14). The Straits Times. Retrieved May 28, 2010, from NewspaperSG.
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Lim, C. (2006). Marine Parade: Community by the sea. Singapore: Marine Parade Citizens’ Consultative Committee.
(Call no.: RSING 307.76095957 LIM)
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(Call no.: RSING 307.095957 LIM)
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Marine Parade Estate will be completed next year. (1975, March 2). The Straits Times. Retrieved May 28, 2010, from NewspaperSG.
Marine Parade may be seaside park. (1951, August 31). The Straits Times. Retrieved May 28, 2010, from NewspaperSG.
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Singapore to get new promenade. (1954, March 22). The Straits Times. Retrieved May 28, 2010, from NewspaperSG.
The great land reclamation at East Coast. (1983, November 11). The Straits Times. Retrieved May 28, 2010, from NewspaperSG.
Where 100,000 will live and play. (1971, August 8). The Straits Times. Retrieved May 28, 2010, from NewspaperSG.
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1 Seaside town with laid-back atmosphere (2006, November 18). The Straits Times. Retrieved January 21, 2011, from NewspaperSG.
The information in this article is valid as at 2010 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.
Architecture and Landscape>>Streets and Places
Architecture and Landscape>>Building Types>>Residential Buildings
Reclamation of land--Singapore