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    Jul 04, 2016

    Katong heritage buildings now pre-schools in $5m revamp

    TWO pre-schools have moved into conserved buildings in Still Road with almost a hundred years of history after a combined $5 million makeover.

    Pat's Schoolhouse Katong is housed in a heritage building at 26 Still Road South while Odyssey The Global Preschool is opening a 21,000 sq ft concept campus at 25 Still Road some way across the street on July 16.

    Both pre-schools are under the Busy Bees childcare group and are leasing the space.

    Rabiatul Adawiah - director of business development, curriculum, audit and compliance at Busy Bees Singapore - told My Paper that renovations for both campuses cost "close to $5 million in total".

    "We took care to preserve the unique facade and features of the two conservation buildings while transforming them into aesthetic and safe pre-schools," she added.

    The buildings have a rich history. A spokesman for the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said both conserved buildings were once part of a large estate built by Moona Kader Sultan, a wealthy Indian cattle merchant from South India, shortly after he bought the land in 1917.

    He named the estate Karikal Mahal after his home town.

    The land was sold in 1947 to Lee Rubber, which converted 25 Still Road South into a hotel.

    "The mansions, built in the ornamented Victorian style, are excellent examples of grand bungalows in the Katong area dating from the pre-war years," said the spokesman.

    He added that the buildings - important architectural and community landmarks - enhance the heritage stock of the Joo Chiat Conservation Area.

    Asked what was special about the two pre-schools in terms of curriculum offerings, Ms Rabiatul said Pat's Schoolhouse "is renowned for pioneering the Bilingual Immersion (English and Mandarin) core programme, and celebrates childhood and creativity in an art- and language-rich environment".

    Odyssey The Global Preschool applies an "innovative research-based curriculum specially aimed at exploratory and self-guided learning", inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach and benchmarked against international best practices.

    "For the first time, we are extending the Odyssey curriculum to infants with the launch of Bambino Odyssey, focusing on left- and right-brain stimulation in the early years," said Ms Rabiatul.

    Odyssey's Still Road branch will also be home to an atelier, an indoor herb garden and an outdoor music garden.

    The URA spokesman said it is "pleased that the two heritage buildings have found new life as childcare centres to ensure the buildings' continued relevance in our present time".

    "Not only will they serve an important need of the community, especially for young families with children, but hopefully the beauty and charm of these grand old dames will also become a memorable part of the children's formative years, helping to bridge this precious heritage to our future."