Did you know that the Dakota Crescent estate is so old, it predates the Housing and Development Board (HDB)? Built in 1958, it predates the formation of HDB by just 2 years. In July 2014, residents of Dakota Crescent were issued a letter by the HDB, informing them to vacate their homes by 2016 as the estate has been slated for renewal. Today, some of the estate still stands but its most notable inhabitants are felines.
A Singaporean photographer who has published three photo books, Nguan, visited the estate last weekend to capture the lives of cats who still dwell in the empty housing estate.
On his website, he states that his photographs are about “big city yearning, ordinary fantasies and emotional globalization”.
In this context, in his pictures the old Dakota Crescent estate almost becomes a character itself, past its prime and sidelined but yearning all the same to be the center of activity again. To return to the good old days.
In 2017, Between Two Homes published an article centered around an elderly gentleman by the name of Jamaluddin who takes care of the many cats of the estate. A school caretaker, he still goes back to his old estate at Dakota Crescent even after relocation, to feed and look after his cats.
Some of the old Dakota Crescent cats have since roamed elsewhere, in the direction of affection and food. Others remain at Dakota Crescent, blissfully unaware of HDB’s missive and perhaps just slightly perplexed at the lack of humans in the estate.
Now the estate waits for new life. The good news is that the government has stated that original cluster of flats around the courtyard area will be preserved. Perhaps in them, the spirit of Dakota Crescent will live on. And perhaps one day, some very elderly cats will live to see their home, renewed and buzzing with human traffic again. We hope when that day comes, those old cats will get lots of behind-the-ear scratches and good tuna.
Need to see more cat pictures? You can view Nguan’s entire photo album on the cats of Dakota Crescent on Facebook here. Want to know more about Dakota Crescent’s history and its residents, human and feline alike? Visit Between Two Homes, a web project funded by Our Singapore Fund, here.