House #1 Pulau Ubin
In the lush forests of eastern Pulau Ubin, near the Chek Jawa Wetlands, there’s a house that looks like it could fit right into Tudor England. It has an actual fireplace and is believed to be Singapore’s last authentic Tudor-style house to have that. Built in the 1930s, it was a resort home for the British Chief Surveyor.
House No. 1 Pulau Ubin has an architecturally distinctive post and beam style, with stucco-finished masonry infill walls. The black timber framing its gables, all creosote-treated, gives it a Tudor-esque appearance. But it also has features distinct to the tropics: netting on the black window frames to keep insects out, and quoins (an exterior corner of two connecting walls) that were built with granite from Pulau Ubin. The house verandah for hosting guests and has a great waterfront view of Pulau Sekudu.
The Tudor house was left derelict until 2003, when it was granted conservation status by the Urban Redevelopment Authority. Between 2005 and 2007, it was restored as part of the larger project to conserve Chek Jawa. The external elements of the main facades were brought back to the original material and finishes, such as the stone and brickwork that had been painted over or plastered over time.
While the original interior layout of the house was kept throughout, some internal fittings had to be replaced, and timber beams treated for termites. Its rare honeycomb-shaped terracotta floor tiles were cleaned and retained, while the ceiling on the second level was raised to allow visitors a peek at the chimney shaft. Even the little details — hinges, door knobs, handles and switches — were carefully sourced and restored. A new jetty was built, following the orientation of the old jetty, to retain the original setting of the house.
Today, House No. 1 on Pulau Ubin is the Chek Jawa Visitor Centre, within the natural environment of Chek Jawa (and home to two colonies of rare bats!). It is as much a nod to the diverse cultures that have shaped our island, as it is a reflection of the care and sensitivity with which we conserve our built environment in Singapore. #HEREitage
📸: URA Conservation Portal