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Woodlands derives its name, possibly from the rubber trees that once dominated the landscape in the past. Its name is also reminiscent of a rural outpost in urban Singapore. Today, however, Woodlands is one of the most densely populated housing and industrial estates in Singapore.
The name "Woodlands" is possibly derived from the rubber trees that flourished in plantations there, resembling woods. Woodlands started off as a village or kampong. Villages in the area included Woodlands Village, Kampong Mandai Kechil and Kampong Kranji. Aside from rubber plantations, there were also poultry farms. The location used was considered ulu or "rural" but has undergone breathtaking changes since post-independence.
Developments in Woodlands can be traced back to two main phases, under which Woodlands Road, Woodlands Estate and areas in the northern region developed extensively.The earlier phase consisted of the Ring Concept Plan that led to Woodlands New Town in the 1970s and 1980s. The Plan outlined new towns to house the rapidly growing population that was expected to follow as a result of industrialisation in the north. Rural settlements or kampongs in the way of industrialisation and new towns in Woodlands were cleared. The first 1,300 housing units of the Woodlands New Town were completed at end of 1972. The Town Centre, with more public housing and industrial infrastructure, was developed later. By March 1994, 22,457 HDB units were built in Woodlands.
A more recent planning guideline for Woodlands was released in 1997. As part of the Development Guide Plan (DGP) by URA, Woodlands was earmarked for extensive development to transform it into a regional centre for northern Singapore. Since then, the Woodlands Regional Centre has sprung up boasting even more and newer housing estates, commercial complexes and light and high-intensity industries.
Woodlands Road connects the Causeway to the junction of Upper Bukit Timah Road, Bukit Panjang Road and Choa Chu Kang Road. Woodlands Road is a two-way street until Kampong Mandai Kechil where from that point onwards it becomes a one-way lane leading to the Woodlands Checkpoint. A portion of another road, the Woodlands Centre Road, leads away from the Checkpoint into the city. Both the roads - Woodlands Road and Woodlands Centre Road, are interconnected in an oval driveway. Once a rural lane, Woodlands Road developed rapidly in the 1990s when the new Woodlands MRT station opened in 1996. In the same year, Singapore's first underground bus interchange was opened beneath the Woodlands MRT station. Woodland Road was upgraded into a semi-expressway in the mid-1990s.
Many public amenities such as schools and shopping centres have been built in Woodlands to cater to the burgeoning population. However, older landmarks remain in Woodlands such as the Arasakesari Sivan Temple, a Hindu temple built in 1930 on Woodlands Road. Dedicated to the Lord Shiva, the temple is built in traditional South Indian temple architecture. The temple was renovated in 1982.
A seven-storey commercial and entertainment mall, the Causeway Point Shopping Centre, was built near the Woodlands MRT station in 1999. The Woodlands Civic Centre, opposite the Shopping Centre, is a 36,300 sq m building that is a one-stop centre serving the administrative needs of residents living in the north. The Centre houses several major public and private agencies like a library, town council, banks, the housing board and the post office.
The Woodlands Town Garden, built in 1983 by the HDB, is a park spread over 12.8 ha. With dense vegetation, this park's beauty is enhanced by the presence of a lake, freely-shaped pools, small bridges, seven Chinese pavilions and six Malay huts on stilts. It won the SIA 1986 Architectural Design Award for its beautifully-designed roofs.
As the last point in northern Singapore before one crosses to Johore, Woodlands is almost synonymous with the SIngapore-Johore Causeway that links the island to Peninsular Malaysia.
Thulaja Naidu Ratnala
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The information in this article is valid as at 2003 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.
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