Clichés, Smart or Salah mall names?

07 August 2011

I was on board bus #10 when I saw the billboard of the currently-under-revamp "I12 Katong" (previously known as Katong Mall).

Previously, I thought "Ion Orchard" is the lamest mall name; till I see "I12 Katong", which is an abbreviation for 'I 1(want) 2(to) Katong'... |||

My immediate reaction is, 'I12 Laugh'!!! Out of the sudden, Katong becomes a verb!?

Plus, this hilarious name inspired me to write this article. I am compiling a list of smart and salah names of shopping malls in Singapore.

'One', 'The', '@' and 'Hub' are hopeless contemporary Clichés!!!
When the concept of multi-storey shopping mall is introduced in 1960s, malls are typically given functional names like "People's Park Complex", "Golden Mile Complex". Up till the 70s, names are still quite descriptive.

In the 80s, things start getting a little spice up. We saw malls with name like "Parkway Parade", "Thomson Plaza", "Marina Square", "Lane Crawford" (renamed "Wheelock Place"), "Paragon" and "Wisma Atria".

In the 90s, due to the success of "Raffles City", mega malls like to end its name with 'City'. For example "Ngee Ann City", "Suntec City", "Great World City". Even neighbourhood centre call itself "Chong Pang City" (which is more comparable to a village I guess). This term die down in the late 90s and early 00s, been replaced by 'Hub'. Hence it becomes refreshing again when "Vivocity" adopt it in 2006.

From the 00s onwards, names start getting really exciting, or even weird; sometimes to the extend of 'how the hell should I pronounce it?'. At the same time, names become very repetitive; especially when a name gets too successful, cases of copy & paste also becomes prominent. Applause for the first creator for the clichés, but boos to the followers. The best examples are 'One', 'The', '@' and 'Hub'.

The '@' is the product of the IT boom starting from 1999. Many new installations introduced at that time like to add '@' to its name. These include "Library @ Orchard", "Library @ Esplanade". This sounds refreshing initially, but when everyone starts using it, it becomes a clichés. Nowadays '@' can be seem almost everywhere, in new HDB DDBS flats "City View @ Boon Keng" and "The Peak @ Toa Payoh", shop names, school facilities, offices "Old School @ Mount Sophia" and factory "Oasis @ Sakra"... Even high-end private residential developments uses '@', as in "Reflections @ Keppel Bay", "Carribeans @ Keppel Bay".

If I remember correctly, "One Fullerton" and "One Raffles Link" are the first 2 buildings to use 'One' as its name (2001). Subsequently, many developments (both old and new) in the CBD start adopting its address as its name, especially address with the prestigious number 1. Examples include "One Marina Boulevard", "One Raffles Quay", "One Shenton", "One George Street", "One Raffles Place" (renamed from OUB Centre), "Twenty Anson", "TripleOne Somerset" etc... The situation get so bad that even building without 1 as its address also decided to name itself "Tampines One" (address: 10 Tampines Central 1)! Private home with 'One' includes "One Amber", "One Balmoral", "One Chatsworth".

The same goes for 'The'. In my memory, "The Concourse" should be the first to used 'The' in its name in 1994. It is followed by "The Heeren" a few years later. 'The' only becomes extremely popular a decade later when numerous malls adopt it for naming. Every building in "Science Park II" are named 'The' followed by a zodiac sign. Other example includes "The Cathay", "The Jewel Box", "The Sentosa Resort", "The Box" (abandoned construction site near Jurong East MRT). Even veteran mall like "Adelphi", "Centrepoint", "Paragon" and "Golden Landmark" also add 'The' in front of its name in mid 00s. The new double helix bridge is also named "The Helix". What I really don't understand is, why is there a need to add 'The' in front of 'Clementi Mall' to make it "The Clementi Mall"!? Did I mention before that PRSS library was renamed "The Sanctuary" after the big revamp? Prestigious residential projects also contain 'The' like "The Azure", "The Berth by the cove", "The Tomlinson", "The Waterside".

Toa Payoh "HDB Hub" is the first 'Hub', so named for its massive floor space and assorted facilities which include several office towers, a few open podiums, a shopping mall, bus interchange. Now, many medium to large buildings decided to call itself 'Hub'. "AMK Hub" which only comprises a shopping mall and bus interchange uses 'Hub' in its name. The new national stadium is called "Sports Hub".

Obviously, the worse name goes to those which contain 2 clichés in it. Examples include "The Atrium @ Orchard", "The Pinnacle @ Duxton", "The Float @ Marina Bay", "The Coast @ Sentosa Cove" and "313 @ Somerset". Thankfully it isn’t name "The Float @ One Marina Bay" or "The 313 @ Somerset". "8 @ TradeHub 21" is among the worst, as it has 3 (between Jurong East & Clementi MRT)!

Anchorpoint (build on the site of Anchor Beer breweries)

Change Alley (historically Change Alley comprises lanes leading from Clifford Pier to Raffles Places. Many money changers dotted these lanes [Clifford Pier used to be our international gateway], hence the name. Now, it connects several buildings at Raffles Place, thus making its name literal as pedestrian 'change' from buildings to buildings.)


Cineleisure (combination of Cineplex and other leisure facilities.)

Harbourfront (descriptive, replacement for World Trade Centre, which is replaced by Expo)

Ion Orchard (I'm indecisive on this, as I think it is smart and interesting for it to mean 'I On Orchard'. But at the same time, I think it is lame because my first connotation of 'Ion' is chemistry.)

Junction 8 (Bishan station used to be coded N8)

Lot 1 (probably the inspiration for the 'One' clichés)

Millenia Walk (named to celebrate the turn of the Millennium. 'Walk' refers to the sculpture walkway in this project.)

Mandarin Gallery ('Gallery' is the perfect name for this up-market mall. But I'm a little worried that 'Gallery' might become a new clichés for the 10s decade.)

nex (North-East eXchange, located above Serangoon station and beside Upper Serangoon road/viaduct.)

South Beach (south end of Beach Road)

Square 2 (beside Novena Square, hence it is the 2nd square in Novena. Plus, superscript 2 is the mathematical indication for Square.)

Sun Plaza (Sun sounds like 'Sem' of Sembawang)

Oasis (located above Kallang Basin)

Ten Mile Junction (located next to 10th Mile Bukit Timah Road, which happens to be a junction with Choa Chu Kang Road and Bukit Panjang Road)

The Rail Mall (descriptive of the rail bridge adjacent to it)

Velocity (extension of Novena Square specializing in sports wear and equipment. Velocity is a physics term.)

White Sands (direct translation of Pasir Ris)

Wilkie Edge (at the junction of Wilkie Road and Selegie Road)

Salah / Er... Where do you get your inspiration from?
*obviously, it includes all those mentioned under the clichés section above.

Century Square (opened in mid 90s. For 1999-2000, we generally we focus our celebration on the arrival of a new millennium, and not so much on century and decade)

Ginza Plaza (renamed West Coast Plaza in 2010)

Iluma (Please enlighten me on its meaning)

Ion Orchard (I'm indecisive on this, as I think it is smart and interesting for it to mean 'I On Orchard'. But at the same time, I think it is lame because my first connotation of 'Ion' is chemistry.)

Plaza by the Park (where is the park?)

Sunshine Point (where Choa Chu Kang is in the west and the mall gets a better view of sunset than sunrise)

Tan Kah Kee MRT Station (Downtown Line) (I would rather it be call Hwa Chong Station or Hillcrest Station. Although Tan Kah Kee is a famous forefather and affiliated to Hwa Chong, the area was never associated with Tan Kah Kee, so it might cause unnecessary confusion in the future.)

Trying to be different so as just to be different...
Maybe instead of 'The', developers can use 'Not'. For example a new mall in Punggol can be named "Not Orchard" or "Marina Hopeful". It can also be stylized into "! Orchard" because '!' is the symbol for not.

Maybe Ke$ha might inspire developers to replace S with '$'. Other examples are C with '{', i with '!' and t with '+'. When we are young, we like to use it in mIRC and msn. :P

Maybe 'Hub' will be replaced by 'Motherboard'?

Interesting facts
Malls managed by Frasers Centrepoint Malls ends their name with 'Point', with the exception of "Robertson Walk". These 'Point' are "The Centrepoint", "Northpoint", "Causeway Point", "Valley Point", "Anchorpoint", "Compass Point", "Yew Tee Point" and "Bedok Point".

Malls managed by CapitaLand (Tampines Mall, Plaza Singapura etc...) love to mop their floor during peak shopping hours!

We have Centrepoint, Northpoint, Eastpoint, Southpoint (Office in Tanjong Pagar) and West Point (Hospital in Taman Jurong).

Clichés of the new decade
I foresee that clichés of the new decade (10s) might be abbreviations and misspellings. There are already examples like "Connexion" in Farrer Park, "nex" and "I12 Katong". I'm also worried that 'Gallery' might become a new clichés for the 10s decade.

Although names that are descriptive are easier to remember, it can be a bit boring. But at least it refers to the place and is generally easy to pronounce (most likely you won't go wrong). In the coming years, I hope mall names continue to be creative, but less copy & paste. I also hope that names are easy to pronounce, it is rather stupid to name a mall (or your child) with difficult-to-pronounce name. Unless your objective is for it to be make fun of, or the creation of a replacement nickname (like Durian for "Esplanade").

Clichés, Smart or Salah mall names?   © 文彬 2004~2018. All rights reserved.