Peace Centre Singapore

Thrifting is probably the first thing that pops into the minds of millennials and Gen Zs when you mention Peace Centre. However, if you were to really dig into its history, you’ll find that it’s so much more than just a place to thrift, a horror house, or a long-forgotten building. Let’s take a walk down memory lane into the storied past of this Bencoolen mall.

Can I still visit Peace Centre?

In 2021, Peace Centre was successfully sold for $650 million and slated for demolition in October 2023. However, social movement PlayPan stepped in to propose using the space for non-profit, community, and social engagement ventures – and the demolition was postponed till after 28th January 2024, when the mall shut for the last time.

An education & printing hub

peace centre singapore art school
One of the art schools in Peace Centre.
Image credit: Case Woo via Google Maps

Built in 1977, Peace Centre was one of Singapore’s oldest shopping malls. It was the go-to place for anyone looking to print textbooks and materials – back when copyright rules weren’t that stringent – and an education hub lined with private schools like Informatics and BMC. Safe to say, you could find many students and businessmen around.

As the age of computers took over in the mid-1980s, Peace Centre also started to evolve. In fact, many computer schools which took off in those days saw their first branches taking root in Peace Centre.

Singapore’s “KTV capital”

peace centre singapore old picture
Image credit: National Archives of Singapore 

As time went by, Peace Centre was unable to keep up with the development of new, trendy malls like Raffles City. By the mid-2000s, it had almost completely been taken over by KTV bars, and developed a bad rep for the proliferation of more seedy activities, with entertainment and music blasting through till the wee hours of the morning.

Older millennials and Gen X folk may recognise Peace Centre by its eventual moniker as the “KTV capital” of Singapore. Before its demolition, it also housed several siam dius, or Thai discos, adding to its less-than-savoury cred. However, things started becoming more peaceful in the 2010s when police enforcements got stricter.

Kacang puteh uncle

peace centre singapore kachang puteh peace centre
Image credit: MSNews 

A familiar sight to those who used to visit Peace Centre would have been Mr Amirthaalangaram Moorthy and his kacang puteh pushcart. He used to be stationed right outside the building, selling tidbits such as murukku and steamed chickpeas. As Peace Centre inched towards its closing, and shops in the mall relocated, Mr Moorthy’s business saw fewer customers as well.

peace centre singapore kacang puteh toa payoh
Image credit: Jimmy Lok via Facebook

Fortunately, Mr Moorthy did not have to close or look for alternative sources of income, as he was offered a spot to relocate to by SBS Transit. Fans of Mr Moorthy’s kacang puteh can now head over to Toa Payoh Bus Interchange to enjoy his snacks.

Aside from the location and the new spiffy stand, everything else about this humble business remains the same – Mr Moorthy and his wife personally fry everything at home, and he still sells each cone for $1.50.

Transformation into a creative space


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The last months of Peace Centre were far from peaceful – in a good way. Social movement PlayPan took over the building in August, revamping it into a space for budding entrepreneurs and artists to experiment in. Popular among the younger generation were the thrift stores that Peace Centre housed – Thryft, Resurrack, and Bhabie’s Market are just a few.

PlayPan even organised a horror house which was well-received by the public, garnering more than 1,000 visitors over the 2-week run.

peace centre singapore playpan
Image credit: via Instagram

To end Peace Centre’s long history with a bang, Bring The Roof Down organised PeaceOut Festival, a final farewell bash which featured DJ and performance acts, plus a flea market.

RIP Peace Centre, you will be remembered

It’s ironic that Peace Centre was on nobody’s mind, until news of its acquisition and end came up. The mall may not have been the most glamorous place in its final years, but its demolition means another piece of Singapore’s history has bitten the dust, again. Let’s take this as a reminder to remember and be grateful for what we have around us.

For more nostalgic reads to get you in ya feels:

Cover image adapted from: National Archives of Singapore, MSNews, @ironichomebody via Instagram

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