The Quadrant's roots go deep into the history of Singapore taking us back to 1939, when it served as the base for the Kwangtung Provincial Bank founded by T.V. Soong (宋子文) and brother T.L Soong. They were brothers in law of Chinese Revolutionary Dr Sun Yat Sen and the bank was used as a conduit to raise funds for Anti-Colonial/Japanese movement in the mid 20th century. It is also important to note that the building has survived through World War II.
The Kwangtung Provincial Bank was one of 2 Chinese banks that were set up before WWII, supporting the entrepreneurial class. In the pre World War II era, it was difficult for the entrepreneurial class in Singapore to borrow from westerners and non Chinese. This bank, mostly comprising of expats from Southern China formed the basis of how the 30s and 40s became the time of Singaporean entrepreneurship.
BBC Broadcasting House
The Quadrant stands as one of the last remaining architecture fronts influenced by the late Art Deco visual style in Singapore which was prominent in 1930s. The style can be identified by
Whole columns within the building, and sliced columns on the 1st floor near the front doorway facade act as an archway
Cantilevered window shades
Windows, entrances and bandings come in threes
The Art Deco visual style was not only prominent in other Singaporean buildings such as Parkview Square & the shophouses that can be found in Tiong Bahru but it was a international movement as can be seen in prominent buildings around the world such as 55 Broadway and the BBC Broadcasting House in London.
The Quadrant also houses one of the last remaining Iron Gate Traction lifts in Singapore. These kinds of lifts not only save electricity as no air conditioning is needed they were also quite sophisticated for their time as they had safety mechanisms in place which inhibit lift movement when gates are not tightly shut.
Here at Homestead, we care deeply about conservation as such when we took over the building we spent 100,000 dollars to restore lift going through the effort to bring a lift engineer from Malaysia to repair the lift as no one in Singapore had the knowledge on such lifts. Even the parts required to repair the lift had to imported from Europe.
The Quadrant, to us, is one of the last remaining symbols of Singapore’s entrepreneurial past, financing businesses in an era which was the seedbed of home grown businesses in the 1930s. We believe there is an urgency for the conservation of The Quadrant as there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the building's survival.
The Land Transport Authority in Singapore safeguards such land for road reserve to construct new roads or improve existing roads not to mention that we are not the owners of the buildings but only master tenants. Thus The Quadrant ultimately belongs to Singapore Land Authority. Therefore, based off our calculations, The Quadrant could easily be demolished and built up to more than twice the height.
We believe The Quadrant can serve as a beacon for the Singaporean entrepreneurial spirit as we celebrate the bicentennial, where Raffles came and discovered this small fishing Island. This is why the conservation of The Quadrant will showcase the maturity of Singapore as an economy with an understanding and a conviction that economic development will not come at the cost of eroding our heritage.