The latest urban oasis in Singapore’s bustling city center has found a home in a row of renovated 1920s Peranakan-styled buildings that incorporate some of the original timber flooring and traditional windows.
Peranakan refers to the culture that developed after Chinese immigrants settled in the Straits of Malacca and adopted and adapted local Malay culture.
The buildings of the Naumi Liora Hotel were originally built as townhouses designed by the firm of Westerhout & Oman, which was one of the leading architectural practices of that time. Some original elements remain such as the pintu pagar double-leaf swing doors at the entrance to each unit, which despite the Malay name the style actually originates in China. Their purpose is to enable the main doors to be kept open during the day, thereby facilitating the through ventilation of the ground floor of the building, while shielding the occupants from the unwanted gaze of passersby.
Another Chinese element is the decorative reliefs of bats beside the capitals of the main pilasters of the upper storey. These have a special significance as the word for bat, fú, sounds the same as the word for good fortune and wealth in Chinese.
The renovated vibrant pumpkin colored façade hides an interior which gives a more contemporary take on Peranakan designs, with abstracted designs evident in details from the lattice pattern of traditional Peranakan tiles as well as the original metal railing patterns from the exterior of the hotel. These motifs are translated into timber screens and used strategically from the lobby to the rooms.
The 79-room hotel’s interior design was undertaken by Gaurang Khemka, founder of Singapore-based design firm URBNarc.
Around the hotel are mini figurine sculptures by local artist KY Huang, in various states of work and play – reminiscent of every day characters that would have been typical in Chinatown’s illustrious past.