21 Carpenter, a boutique hotel restored from a former remittance house, opens in Singapore | SENATUS



21 Carpenter, a boutique hotel restored from a former remittance house, opens in Singapore

24 April 2024

By Natalie White

21 Carpenter, a boutique heritage hotel borne from a former remittance house hailed as the birthplace of banking in Singapore, opens its doors to guests this year.

Retaining its heritage, with a contemporary update by architectural firm WOHA, 21 Carpenter is centrally located between Clarke Quay and Boat Quay, easily accessible to both Singapore’s CBD and Chinatown.

"At 21 Carpenter, we aspire to be more than just a place to rest; we're an invitation to step into Singapore's rich stories. Our thoughtful design preserves links to the past while embracing the future through our five brand pillars: Design, Service, Gastronomy, Community and Sustainability," shares General Manager Tarun Kalra.

21 Carpenter sits across four historic four-storey shophouses and a contemporary five-storey extension. As one of the oldest shophouses in the area, special attention was given to conserving the original features of the building in line with the government's conservation guidelines.

The facade’s Shanghai plaster dates back to the 1930s, and on the building’s exterior, Chinese characters list cities and regions to which the remittances were sent.

Poetic details reference the building’s history, with the Urban Wing’s aluminium art facade featuring excerpts from original remittance letters.

Within, all rooms are thoughtfully designed spaces incorporating old and new. Employing a warm and inviting palette with Asian design influences, all furniture was custom designed by WOHA. 

The Heritage Wing comprises 26 rooms over the first four floors, including the Heritage 2-Bedroom Suite spanning 55 sqm.

The top five levels, known as the Urban Wing, feature 22 contemporary, light-filled rooms, such as the 30 sqm Urban Luxe room, where floor-to-ceiling windows offer views of the city and the bay. Unlike many shophouse hotels, WOHA ensured every room has a full-sized window.

Above the bustle, 21 Carpenter offers exclusive spaces for guests to unwind and relax. The intimate Garden Terrace on level 3 invites quiet connection and can serve as a small event space for intimate gatherings. The Rooftop Infinity Pool & Lounge, with the first exposed stainless-steel pool in Singapore, gives way to skyline views of Marina Bay.

Kee’s, a Neo-Bistro & Bar headed by Michelin-starred Chef Andrew Walsh as Culinary Director, offers a delightful dining option on site.

A nod to the building’s 1936 incarnation as Chye Hua Seng Wee Kee, coupled with a playful reference to its location between the two Quays, the street-level venue will offer European-inspired bistro fare with a tight selection of local classics.

Kee’s is conceptualised to be the city’s social heart, with guests and locals alike encouraged to linger longer over comforting food, wines, and cocktails.

The richness of Singapore’s burgeoning art and creative scene is on show through an extensive collection curated by art and design consultancy The Artling.

A dynamic group of emerging and established Singaporean artists are featured in spaces that span the entire hotel. Adorning the Lobby is a stunning tapestry by Heman Chong, his first piece utilising this medium. On the Rooftop Infinity Pool & Lounge is a hand-drawn charcoal mural by Dawn Ang of Aeropalmics, reflecting clouds over Clarke Quay. Other featured artists include Ruben Pang, Jamie Teo, Aarti Bartake, Soph O and more.

“Curating art for a heritage property like 21 Carpenter is an exciting challenge. Beyond decorating walls, you want pieces that speak to the building’s unique history and journey. WOHA’s incredible restoration offered the perfect canvas to weave old and new through a diverse mix of mediums, reflecting Singapore’s dynamic spirit,” shares Talenia Gajardo, director and founder of the Artling.

Local names and brands enrich the hotel: Floral Kokoro embellishes social spaces with exquisite floral arrangements in custom-made vases by Jenevieve Studio. In Good Company designed custom robes and independent artist Liu Liling furnished the luxurious bed throws. Soda Lemon SG created the sleek toothbrush holders using upcycled glass, while the bespoke Cups and Saucer sets are crafted by Un Studio.

Sustainability is a big part of 21 Carpenter, from preserving the building’s historic materials to eco-friendly features. The original 1930s Chengal wood has been carefully reused in lobby floors, Heritage suites and the sculptural handrail along the hotel’s five-foot way. The rooftop gleams with 22 photovoltaic panels to supplement power needs, while a hybrid cooling system, combining ceiling fans with air conditioning, lowers electricity consumption.

The aluminium art facade of the Urban extension also functions as a sunscreen, further reducing the need for active cooling. The hotel aims to reduce single-use plastic waste by employing reusable water carafes and amenity dispensers.

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