Before the Butterfly Block was constructed, early HDB residential blocks were largely designed as simple slab blocks and point blocks as the focus then was to build efficiently. With its unique curves and aesthetic façade, the Butterfly Block is an effort to create more variety and character in public housing estates through innovative designs.
Paul Fernandez (b. 1940) and his family moved into the Butterfly Block in 1975. He recalled, “There was a circular carriage way, Rumah Bomba (Malay: Fire House) Circus, at the end of the Butterfly Block where the itinerant hawkers would set up their food stalls. The firefighters from Alexandra Fire Station and the expatriates from Gillman Barracks would frequent the food stalls.”
Long Hwee Book Store
Enter Long Hwee Book Store and you are likely to witness a lively banter between the proprietor and the seamstress about anything under the sun. For the past 42 years, Mdm Ker Ah Kin (b. 1950) and her husband have been quietly mending the unimpressionable Long Hwee Book Store diligently. They sell bags, shoes and cassette tapes in addition to their wide collection of Chinese novels and literature.
In the early 1970s, Mei Ling was still a hill covered by graves and farms. There were no schools (Mei Chin Primary was built in the late 1970s) and a mud road was all that led residents to Queensway. As the township in Mei Ling blossomed, business at Long Hwee was increased as and the pioneer book store started serving a growing number of students in the estate.
Long Hwee Book Store quickly became an icon where students from all walks of life would congregate and purchase their supplies of stationery and books. Recalled Eric Low (b. 1972) an ex-Hua Yi Primary and Queensway Secondary student, “This was where I bought my school bag when I was studying at Hua Yi.”