In 1971, Singapore’s government began the construction of open-air food complexes designed to rehome every last vendor that filled its streets. It took 15 years to cover the island with 140 of them. Since then, numbers have declined and few more have ever been built.
Frozen in time, these complexes – hawker centres – are a preservation of Singapore’s rich and communal food culture. Their utilitarian style of bright lights, whirring fans and plastic cutlery belies the warmth of heritage, of shared joy, of comfort and routine. They are the soul of Singapore.