Queenstown bowling alley is one of my favourite buildings in Singapore, though I’ve never been in it and seriously doubt I ever will. I rubberneck through the window of the bus whenever I’m passing through Commonwealth: struck every time by how awesome it is, wondering how it’s escaped the wrecking ball, and wishing I had any reason at all to spend more time in this part of town, so that I could take pictures of it in all different weathers… okay, in both weathers.
Shabby chic, elegant neglect, charming dereliction, whatever you want to call it, those sorts of building don’t tend to hang about here in the way that they might in London. But somehow, who knows why, Queenstown remains. So, in case each day is its last, I went on a long-overdue outing with my camera.
I should add that I know nothing of the building's history, and I don’t really feel I need to, it doesn’t seem important. It's simply a nice object. However, from some half-hearted snooping at other websites who mention Queenstown (like Singapore sojourn and Good Morning Yesterday) photos from just a few years ago make the place look quite colourful and fairly recently abandoned. But the sun has bleached through the brightly coloured paint since then, and the lush palm gardens are gone. The whole place looks faded, cracked and parched in the heat.
I find it hard to explain why I like it so much. I like the angles and colours against the sky. So few buildings here benefit from an (almost) uninterrupted halo of blue.
I like that it must once have been garish and gaudy, but that it has softened in its dotage.
Although a lot of thought must have gone into its design, there seems to be virtually no architectural, structural or historical reason to protect it. Functionally and aesthetically it's probably utterly beyond redemption. But there’s something strangely endearing about that.
I’ve never seen anything like it, and one of these days I’ll go down Commonwealth Avenue on the bus and it’ll be gone. So I never will again.