The Air View building is co-owned by the Yangzheng Foundation (formerly known as Yeung Ching Foundation) and Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital. Its earnings went towards funding the expenses of the hospital and Yeung Ching School.
Constructed in 1924, the building is characteristic of the early stages of modern Singaporean architecture. It was one of many commercial and residential buildings commissioned by local entrepreneurs during the period.
Such buildings were typically constructed with modern reinforced concrete and had metal frame windows and high ceilings. Embellishments were often limited by budget, which may explain why the Air View Building only features arches on its ground floor and classical trimmings around its arches and windows.
According to Sng Choon Yee, former honorary president/committee member of Singapore Soon Clan Association, the land that the building stands on once held the graves of the Cantonese and Hakka communities, as such the colonial government had to compensate both communities for the laying of Maxwell Road. The Cantonese community started the Air View Hotel with the piece of land given by the colonial government.
During its glory days, the Air View Building was home to a reputable Cantonese restaurant on its roof, where many luxurious wedding banquets were held. It was also occupied by two hotels: The Air View Hotel and the New Asia Hotel.
Apart from being a culinary paradise, the top floor of the Air View Building was also known for being an entertainment hotspot. The restaurant regularly held Cantonese opera performances for its patrons, which were extremely well-received.
According to The Straits Time article─ “T.F Hwang takes you down Memory Lane”, written in 1989, there was even a cabaret in the building where young women would entertain and dance with male customers for a fee. It was said to be the only cabaret in the Tanjong Pagar area then. Notably, its grand size and style that made it a formidable rival of the Southern Hotel’s cabaret located in Chinatown, which was visited by celebrities from China and Hong Kong, as well as people from the high society.
As Singapore underwent its post-independence boom in the 1970s, however, the hotels in the Air View Building began to lose their sheen. They could not compete with a spate of new, more well-polished luxury hotels. The New Asia Hotel closed in 1974, and the building was subsequently refurbished into a commercial building, which it still is today.
This is a conserved building(s) by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), please visit URA’s Conservation Portal for more details.
Buildings and sites featured on Roots.SG are part of our efforts to raise awareness of our heritage; a listing on Roots.SG does not imply any form of preservation or conservation status, unless it is mentioned in the article. The information in this article is valid as of May 2019 and is not intended to be an exhaustive history of the site/building.