Auntie Irene is an octogenarian – one of Singapore’s pioneer generation. She’s been living in the same house in Joo Chiat, Singapore since 1949!

Joo Chiat Singapore - Auntie Irene

67 years have passed, and her own children have all grown up and moved away to start families of their own. But Auntie Irene still vividly remembers the year she first moved in.

It was 1949, and Auntie Irene was only 13 years old. Her father was a chief clerk at a British company. Back then, East Coast Road was where the land ended and the sea began. That’s why these houses were built off the ground – to avoid becoming flooded with seawater during high tide! After school, Auntie Irene and her sister used to play on the beach just outside their house.

Tamarind trees, also known as assam, used to line the beach in front of these houses. When the wind blew, assam fruits would litter the ground. All the children in the neighbourhood loved to suck on the seeds of these fallen fruits. Auntie Irene remembers the taste as “sweet, but also sourish”. Although these assam trees have since been cut down, many of the residents here continue to grow their own herbs and spices.

In the 1960s, land reclamation projects pushed the shoreline further out. Before long, Auntie Irene found her house sandwiched between the old neighbourhood of Joo Chiat and the newly-reclaimed Marine Parade!

Today, the row of conserved terrace houses along East Coast Road are some of the oldest residences in Singapore. Take a 360° virtual tour inside Auntie Irene’s house! Swipe to explore.

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