21 Carpenter: A new hotel where heritage is thoughtfully reimagined

21 Carpente
Images by Design Hotel

Locally rooted, historically relevant, and contemporarily reinvented: Singapore’s 21 Carpenter speaks to the past of its location while fostering a bold, modern community, with thoughtfulness at the center of every experience. Here, a heritage structure dating to the 1930s augments a striking five-story cubic extension with a rooftop infinity pool and street-level neo-bistro and bar helmed by Michelin-starred chef Andrew Walsh as the culinary director. Throughout the hotel, esteemed local partners provide everything from the in-room snacks to the art on the walls.

At Singapore’s newest heritage boutique hotel, 21 Carpenter, the past juxtaposes the present and future. Nestled at the intersection of Clarke Quay, a neighborhood known for its nightlife and dining scene, and the old-world charm of Chinatown, the hotel seamlessly blends tradition and innovation, with thoughtful touches throughout. “21 Carpenter is a place to experience Singapore’s true history and past, while creating new stories for the future,” General Manager Tarun Kalra says. “During their time with us, we hope guests enjoy an immersive cultural experience that will leave a lasting impression.”

To create the property, which opened its doors in December 2023, the talented and unconventional local team at WOHA Architects breathed new life into a group of four historic shophouses. First established around 1936, the buildings served as the Chye Hua Seng Wee Kee remittance office of Lee Wee Nam, who went on to become one of the founders of the Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation. The hotel’s heritage structure now stands as a testament to Singapore’s rise to prosperity. Guests are welcomed in the meticulously restored historic base, contrasted by a stunning five-story, Jenga-like cubic extension: where the Heritage Wing has bays, ornate details, and tectonic expression, the new Urban Wing is about surface and dematerialized, weightless volumes.

“In the creation and design of 21 Carpenter, we wanted to honor the rich history of the heritage structure. Every detail has been thoughtfully crafted, with key parts of the design reflecting the building’s historical aesthetics and storied past,” says Richard Hassell, Founding Director of WOHA.

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From the property’s street-level neo-bistro and bar to its 48 rooms and rooftop infinity pool and lounge, contemporary elements appear in thoughtful dialogue with history. Restored solid Chengal wood floors and paned windows beautifully contrast bespoke furniture designed by WOHA with Asian modernist and Art Deco influences. Hassell created headboards based on calligraphy inspired by historic remittance letters, while other unique artworks, curated in collaboration with The Artling, spotlight the local community. Renowned Singaporean artist Heman Chong created a massive tapestry for the lobby’s towering triple-height ceiling, painter Khairulddin Wahab’s specially commissioned canvases hang in the neo-bistro, and guests will discover linen bed throws and pouches designed by emerging artist Liu Liling in their rooms.

Further defining 21 Carpenter as a place of community is Kee’s, a destination neo-bistro and bar carefully designed to bring visitors and locals together during shared epicurean experiences. Lauded chef Andrew Walsh, whose other Singaporean restaurant Cure has a Michelin star, presents refined takes on classic European bistro fare with a tight selection of local favorites. As a vibrant social space, Kee’s combines an elegant dining area with an exquisite bar, perfect for an evening of sipping finely crafted cocktails, indulging in Walsh’s international culinary journey, and engaging in stimulating conversations.

As guests return to their rooms or locals head home, they’ll be reminded conceptually of where they are and where they might be going. The historic building features inscriptions of the Chinese cities to where remittances were made, and with its perforated aluminum façade, the extension offers a contemporary take on this legacy of inscribed architecture: poems extracted from the letters in the remittance documents that workers sent home to their families are woven into the aluminum pattern. Horizontally in English and vertically in Chinese, the textured verse creates space for emotional reflections on love, longing, and nostalgia for home.

Sustainability 21 Carpenter approaches sustainability holistically. The aluminum façade follows a sustainability-focused approach to design, with the metal effectively dissipating the tropical heat and contributing to a cooler interior. This, in turn, reduces the energy consumption required for in-room cooling. On level nine, there are also 16 solar panels intended to provide the energy requirements for the operations of that level. Throughout the property, local partners are prioritized in everything from the artworks on walls to the fresh produce in the restaurant’s kitchen. Purezza provides water-bottle refill stations, custom bathrobes are by Singaporean clothing brand In Good Company, and cups and saucers are from Un Studio, a local furniture and ceramics studio. By sourcing such items—alongside all of the artwork—locally, 21 Carpenter’s carbon footprint is significantly reduced.


Tags: 21 Carpenter, heritage, new hotel


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