Ah Ma's Drinks Stall
pulau ubin pilot restoration project
A timber design and build reconstruction project on Pulau Ubin, a small island off mainland Singapore, Ah Ma's Drink Stall is a collective effort of multiple stakeholders, including NUS Architecture, PH consulting, Singapore Heritage Society, Sea Angel, National Parks Board and Ministry of National Development. Serving as a testbed for building codes and regulations specific to Pulau Ubin, a kampong setting, this pilot project aims to ease the future restoration in Ubin and the preservation and revitalization of the last kampong in Singapore.
Mdm Ong, known affectionately as Ah Ma, and her drink stall are a familiar sight to visitors at Pulau Ubin, an island off the eastern coast of mainland Singapore. The stall was constructed by her late husband, Mr Choo Lai Huat, and her son-in-law some two decades ago. Located next to a river with a mangrove swamp behind it, the drink stall has been gradually slanting due to soil erosion and is now structurally unsafe. Occasionally, it will even become flooded during high tide.
The community building, albeit of a humble scale and personal significance, it is of important sentimental value to Ah Ma’s family and people who often visit Pulau Ubin. The 25-year- old original drink stall was a makeshift construction by Ah Ma’s late husband and family, but slowly deteriorated into a structurally unsafe building due to ground settlement. The reconstruction helps the 80-year old Ubin resident, Ah Ma, to continue her resilient and independent lifestyle on Pulau Ubin.
Dr Tan Beng Kiang
In Collaboration With
National Parks Board (NParks)
Mr Philip Lim
Singapore Heritage Society
Throughout the participatory design process and the imparting of vernacular construction knowledge of interlocking timber joinery to from villagers to students., sentimental value and user intent were prioritised and respected. The original spatial arrangement and architectural language of columns and pitched roof are adopted, whilst salvageable original timber planks are reused in the new construction to keep traces of the past. Signboards written by the late husband are hung on prominent locations.
The drink stall is located next to a tidal river, resulted in occasional super tides which would flood the stall. A raised platform at seat height is incorporated to address this issue. The drink stall, being an important pit stop for regular kayakers, was built to accommodate easier maintenance of timber platform from muddy footprints. The renewed platform spans across 3 bays instead of all 5 bays, with an integrated ramp built for universal design. The storeroom is centralized as a result of Ah Ma’s feedback on design proposals.