[Final] | Project 2B | Zine: Locale

A continuation from the previous project, we were tasked to, with the data collected from the previous project, create an 8-page zine portraying our perceptions of the chosen place. 

Final Product 

Zine: Final product

For a more in-depth look of the zine, please refer to: 

The location I chose was Keong Saik Road because of its unique trait of its transformation from a dingy red-light district into a poster child for a hip New Singapore. 

As Keong Saik Road is famous today for its night life – with its many high-end restaurants, boutiques, and bars as tenants – I felt that experiences in the past and in the present would share similarities. Therefore, I wanted to use the zine as an outlet to expand on the five senses one would experience when heading for a night out at Keong Saik Road in the present, contrasted against one in the past. 

Using a combination of abstract and literal concepts and techniques, I hoped to convey my own experiences in visiting the site, as well as my assumptions of what it was like in the past, coupled with first-hand accounts from biographies, through the zine’s spreads.

Front & Back Cover

As the zine portrays the contrasting settings of heading for a night out in present-day Keong Saik Road versus one in the past as a red-light district, the zine can be can be read from either the front to back or back to front. Reading from the front shows the experiences of present-day Keong Saik Road as a trendy hot spot for high-end restaurants and bars, and reading from the back would show the experiences of Keong Saik in the past as a red-light district. 

Front cover (Left)
Back cover (Right)

The first spread is a representation of getting ready to head out to present-day Keong Saik Road and in the past. 

The front cover shows a perfume bottle, an eyeshadow palette, and an ATM card. Illustrations being the main bulk of the visuals, the composition also comprises of  patterns taken from images.

  • Perfume bottle: The pattern here is a wall mural found in one of the alleyways at Keong Saik Road
  • Eyeshadow palette: The eyeshadow colours here are meant to represent the clothing patterns of visitors I came across during one of my site visits. Common fabric patterns I saw were denim (left), floral patterns (second from left), regular clothing fabrics (second from right), and leather (right).

The title says ‘Meet me at… Keong Saik Road’, done in the style of a WhatsApp message. The title is contrasted against that of the back cover where it says ‘I got caught up at Keong Saik Road’ in Chinese (as Keong Saik Road was a Chinese district in the past). The title of the back cover is done with a spiral pattern to mimic a telephone cord; to contrast against a WhatsApp message, I thought it would be appropriate to have a traditional landline cord. 

The back cover, on the other hand, shows a condoms, a condom box, and dollar notes and coins. Like the front cover, illustrations are the main bulk, but with some patterns taken from images. Wanting to show the demographics of visitors who frequented the place in the past (i.e. middle-aged businessmen), I used the fabric of a suit to form the packaging of the condoms.

Spread 1

The first spread represents Keong Saik Road in present-day through the five senses, expanding more on the sense of sight, smell, and sound. 

Left Page

The idea of the first page was to reflect the part of a night out where you’d be looking for a place to eat at. Wanting to show the layout of the road, the left page depicts an overview of the street in the style of a topographical map. The shape of the road and general layout was copied from a map view of the place (when searching for Keong Saik Road in Google Maps). The senses here focused on sight and sound.

Facilities on the map

In topographical maps, repeated swirls were used to indicate the heights of hills and mountains. Using the same idea, the map here – instead of showing the heights of shophouses in the area – depicts the noise frequencies of different areas. The noisier an area was, the larger and more condensed the swirl was (e.g. bars and clubs would be bigger than hotels and convenience stores). The colours depicted in the centre also reflected the colours associated with that particular store as well. The roads were formed with an image of the road at Keong Saik Road, and the squares (representing the general placement of shophouses) were formed with the floors found in the area – during a site visit, I realised that the stores along the street each had unique styles of flooring, so I thought it’d be interesting to use each pattern to represent a different store.

Right Page

The right page, on the other hand, was meant to reflect the part of the night where you’d be eating and drinking at a restaurant. The senses to be focused on here would be the sense of sight, smell, sound, and taste. The visuals depicted here are burgers, cigarette, cigarette smoke, drinks, and music from a speaker, against the texture of a wooden surface.

  • The burger here is a recreation of a photograph of a burger from Potato Head Folk, a very famous restaurant that resides in the area (it’s the first thing you see before going further down the street). It was created by taking textures from buns bought at Keong Saik Bakery and converting them into brushes. The textures were then used to form the shape of the burger based on a photograph.
  • The smoke here, further emphasised by the visuals of cigarettes, was meant to represent cigarette smoke. When I visited the area, I could smell a lot of cigarette smoke, and wanted to reflect that. The cigarettes were formed from the receipts I got from shopping at Keong Saik Bakery. The smoke was created by spilling coffee onto a paper towel. When cropped and altered, it resembled smoke.
  • Music from speakers is represented through the radial patterns in the background. When visiting the site, I realised that one of the most notable sounds you’d come across was music blaring from speakers of the different stores. And even more so when the street festival, Urban Ventures, was being held. To show the idea of music coming from speakers, I cropped a photo of a shophouse door into circular patterns.
  • The spill at the bottom was meant to represent a drink spill. Creating the shape involved spilling a drink across a paper towel then painting over the shape on Photoshop.
Spread 3

In contrast to the first spread, the last spread shows visiting Keong Saik Road in the past as a red-light district. The senses focused here are the sense of sight, smell, and hearing.

Spread 3: Experiences at Keong Saik Road as a red-light district

Left Page

The idea of the page on the left was to convey the experiences of coming across brothels along Keong Saik Road. The senses focused here are sight, smell, and sound. Based entirely on an excerpt from 17A Keong Saik Road by Charmaine Leung, which reads:

"The three streets of the Keong Saik area was like a catwalk with an uninterrupted flow of models showing off the latest fashion. Except here, the dai gu liong - masked thickly in their sweet perfumes after they had finished their service calls - sashayed onto the streets and showed off their sex appeal..."
"These men - complete strangers in their thirties to sixties - gathered themselves in a new found alliance of camaraderie, and stood from noon till dark, eyeballing the women of Keong Saik. Like immovable statues at the foot of our house..."

The visuals in this page were meant to convey the descriptions mentioned in these excerpts. Therefore, in this page, it depicts a catwalk where pipas are strutting, to a crowd of sculptures from the Renaissance, coupled with soundwaves and lanterns, against the backdrop of a fur carpet (to make it more raunchy). 

  • The stage here is made up of strips of the page where the excerpt came from. The wall behind is from an image of a wall of a shophouse from the area. 
  • The pipas in this case were meant to represent the prostitutes. In the past, some of the prostitutes were referred to as pipa zai, which is translated into Little Pipa, as it was named after the shapes of their bodies being similar to that of pipas
  • The sculptures were meant to represent the brothels’ patrons, where in the excerpt, they were described as ‘immovable statues’. 
  • Emerging from the door of the catwalk is a cloud of pink smoke to represent the thick, sweet perfume of the prostitutes. The smoke was the same one used earlier, but coloured pink instead.
  • The soundwaves at the back were meant to depict the demographics that visited the brothels. Seeing that its patrons were mainly middle-aged men, the soundwaves were the frequencies of average male voices. 

Right Page

The idea of the right page was meant to convey the experiences of navigating through the street of Keong Saik Road when it was a red-light district. This page focuses on the senses of sight, smell, and sound. 

Based entirely on assumptions made from researching about its history, the following visuals are used:

  • A tunnelling effect was created by layering cropped images of the road and the gates to some of the stores from the area. The deeper the image was, the darker the colour overlay. To further emphasise it being a tunnel, a floor was placed.
  • The centre comprises of an illuminated sign ‘6-A’. This was to represent the brothels in the area as in the past, patrons identified brothels by looking out for rectangular light boxes out front with numbers on them. The image was cropped from one that still resides in Keong Saik Road today.
  • The smoke was to emphasise it further as a notorious red-light district. The smoke was the same ones used earlier. 
  • Similar to the page on the left, to depict the demographics that frequent the area (i.e. middle-aged men), I used the sound frequencies of average male voices.

With the two experiences coming together, the centrespread was to represent the feelings of a post-visit to a bar at Keong Saik Road in the present, and a post-visit to a brothel at Keong Saik Road in the past. The five senses pictured here is the sense of sight.


Since the sensation and visuals of the dizzy feeling of being drunk is somewhat similar to the idea of pixellating/censoring what goes on in a brothel, I wanted to use patterns as the primary visual. Taking images of a walkway through one of the shophouses (left), one of the door ways (centre), and a vintage-style wallpaper (right), I warped it to form a swirl pattern. Extracting colours from the photos used, I expanded the swirl patterns to extend to the whole spread.



Making the zine first started with conceptualising the overall concept, approach, and techniques to use.

Mindmap: Overall concept and art direction
Mindmap: Brainstorming ways to create visuals
Mindmap: Brainstorming ways to create visuals

Eventually, I settled on portraying the five senses through two contrasting experiences in the present and in the past, using as much material I can retrieve from the site. 

Research & Materials

In creating the visuals, I had the following materials to use and expand on further:

  • Photos: The photos I took of the sight showed the different facilities, patterns found in flooring and walls, textures of flooring and doors, light fixtures, colours of shophouses, and the signages displayed.
  • Items from the site: During my visit, I bought buns from the Keong Saik Bakery, and obtained a couple of receipts. 
  • Objects associated with the site: Food and drinks to symbolise it as an F&B enclave.
  • 17A Keong Saik Road: Autobiographical accounts from the book allowed me to recreate the experiences detailed.
Spill Pattern

The spill pattern from the first spread was a messy process.

Disgusting concoction of espresso liquor and soju
Trying to form patterns from spilling the liquid and sprinkling coffee grounds for added texture
Coffee spill across paper towel
Other Materials
Receipts from Keong Saik Bakery
Text from 17A Keong Saik Road
Buns bought from Keong Saik Bakery
Floor patterns
Left to right: Walkway, wall mural, door, gate
Artist References
I. Album artworks by Gengahr
Works by Gengahr
 II. Artworks by Jason Chen 
Art by Jason Chen
 III. Artworks by thankyou.please
Art by thankyou.please
Page 1: Draft 1
Page 2: Draft 1
Page 1: Draft 2
Page 6: Draft 1
Page 6: Draft 2


  • One of the main challenges I dealt with was the use of abstract concepts and methods. As I was very used to representing ideas in a literal format, all while using hand-drawn illustrations as a crutch, I found it challenging to venture out in trying techniques such as mark-making and image manipulation. However, with the help of my friends and Joy, I was able to brainstorm and have a hand in new ways of representing the five senses with materials from the site. 
  • I had some difficulty in coming up with an interesting and visually-appealing centrespread. Inspired by some abstract works I came across, I was hoping to use colours and textures to convey the dizzy feeling of being drunk as well as the censored/pixelated content of visiting a brothel. But it didn’t go as well as I wanted!
Comparison: Digital (Left), Physical Copy (Right)
  • Printing the zine was also quite problematic. As its pages were primarily made up of bright and rich colours, it did not really reflect well when printed on regular printing paper. However, having printed an extra copy on glossy paper (for my own reference), the colours came out slightly better, but still a little dull. 

Feedback & Improvement

Post its from friends!
Post its from friends!
  • The concept seemed to translate well to my classmates, the juxtaposition was well-defined and the visuals and sequence of pages helped!
  • Some of the techniques used and colours displayed were interesting and helped to bring forth the concept better.
  • The centrespread could be developed further. The idea of having the two experiences clash makes for an interesting spread but was not translated well into the centrespread. Maybe I could have applied principles in layout for a better build-up and more interesting composition, as well as adopt better techniques and tools for a more interesting texture.

[Final] Project 2A | Zine: Locale

For the first part of our second project, we were tasked to conduct a 5-min presentation on a unique place in Singapore of our choice. 

Final Product

For a more hi-res view, please refer to: Slides-FA.compressed

The place I chose was Keong Saik Road. Because of its popularity as a trendy hangout spot for high-end restaurants, eateries, and bars, I wanted to do a powerpoint presentation in the style of a virtual dining experience. At the same time, I was hoping it’ll be a more interesting method of presenting! After conducting research, I also came to realise that Keong Saik Road, despite its popularity today as an F&B enclave, was once a notorious red-light district in the olden days. 

The visuals of the presentation consisted of mainly hand-drawn illustrations accompanied with Photoshop textures and images.

Finding a mix of both quantitative and qualitative data, the research methods I adopted for this project were secondary research and primary research techniques. The techniques involved were:

Secondary Research: Online information, autobiographies

Primary Research: Site recces, first-hand accounts from myself and others, and surveys

Slide 1


Slide 1: Title

The first slide comprises of an image of the recognisable 1939 building (where Potato Head Folk now resides) with the title in a neon lights kind of typeface and colour.

Because of Keong Saik Road’s popularity as a spot for nightlife, as well as the fact that it was once a red-light district, I thought using neon lights to introduce the place seemed fitting.

Slide 2
Slide 2: Contents page

To make for a more interesting and visually appealing contents page, while sticking to the ‘dining experience’ theme, the outline of the presentation was done according to a fictional restaurant at an iconic shophouse at Keong Saik Road.

The iconic row of orange shophouses at Keong Saik Road

Following the order of going for dinner at a restaurant, I tried to structure my presentation accordingly:

1) Looking at the menu: An introduction into Keong Saik Road

2) Looking at the restaurant’s specials: Keong Saik Road’s unique trait

3) Entering the restaurant: Analyses of Keong Saik Road

Slides 3-7
Slide 3: Cover page
Slide 4: Directions, what is Keong Saik Road famous for
Slide 5: To Dos
Slide 6: Images of Keong Saik Road
Slide 7: Brief history

The first segment of the presentation gives a brief introduction of Keong Saik Road and an insight into its history. To give context to my classmates who have not heard of/been to Keong Saik Road, I gave them an overview of:

Keong Saik Road Today

  • Recently named the ‘4th Must-Visit Destination’ in Asia by Lonely Planet Guide in 2017
  • Where exactly the road is
  • What it’s famous for: its restaurants and colourful shophouses
  • The different facilities that reside there
  • The different types of F&B places
  • An overview of how the place generally looks like and its most notable landmarks

Keong Saik Road in the Past

  • The history behind its name
  • The facilities that resided there in the past

This segment of the presentation was done in the style of a menu. To complement the idea of this segment giving an overview of the place, looking at the menu of a restaurant serves the same purpose.

Slides 8-12

The third segment of the presentation introduces Keong Saik Road’s unique trait, the transformation of a notorious red-light district into Singapore’s poster child for a hip New Singapore. The slides first talked about its notoriety as a red-light district:

  • The changes it underwent from the 1940s to 1990s
  • Its first stages as a street for entertainment houses, then full-fledged brothels, followed by its transformation into a street for commercial use by high-end tenants.

The slides for this segment were done in the style of a chalkboard. Inspired by the many chalkboards displayed outside the eateries I came across while at Keong Saik Road, I wanted to use the medium of a chalkboard display as a unique way of presenting Keong Saik Road’s unique trait. This was also because, keeping to the theme, how some restaurants announce their specials of the day or promotions.

SLides 13-21

The fourth segment presents the data collected from my primary research on the area. This portion of the presentation is broken down into 4 components:

  • How the survey showed people’s impressions and perceptions of Keong Saik Road across different demographics
  • How the history of Keong Saik Road as a red-light district might have influenced the initial perceptions of the same people
  • A better idea of the demographics that frequent the area as well as the reasons they have for visiting
  • Two case studies that emphasise Keong Saik Road’s appeal as a trendy hangout today

The visuals of this segment of the presentation was done according to a dining table setting, with plates and utensils placed against a table. Following the theme, the presentation of data is equivalent to the main highlight of a dining experience, so I thought having the dining table setting seemed appropriate.

Slides 22-23

The final segment of the presentation is the conclusion, emphasising Keong Saik Road’s transformation into a trendy hangout spot famous for not only its F&B scene, but for its rich cultural history.

For this portion, it was done to a setting of receiving the bill. Coming to the end of the dining experience, someone has to pay the bill!

 Techniques Applied

Secondary research techniques used and findings
Primary research techniques used and findings



Conceptualising for this project first started off with picking out and narrowing down unique places in Singapore.

Mindmap: Picking out places in Singapore with unique traits
Places in Singapore with unique traits

I listed and narrowed down places I knew at the top of my head. Some of the places I was interested in exploring further were Upper Thomson Road or MacRitchie Reservoir, Seletar Air Base, Keong Saik Road, Balestier, and Bishan. Some of the traits associated with these places were:

  • Upper Thomson Road: List of dining options
  • MacRitchie Reservoir: Inspired by friends’ stories of their homes getting raided by monkeys, I wanted to explore more about MacRitchie Reservoir. It was the only reservoir in Singapore that the macaques reside in and it is hope to the popular Treetop Walk.
  • Seletar Air Base: Old air base that got reconstructed into an F&B enclave; patrons can see private airplanes taking off while dining there.
  • Keong Saik Road: Shophouses and F&B scene
  • Balestier: Rows of peculiar shops
  • Bishan: Facilities catered to pet owners

However, after debating, I decided to go with Upper Thomson Road/MacRitchie Reservoir.

Research on First Choice

I started researching more on MacRitchie Reservoir and found out that it, along with the surrounding Upper Peirce and Lower Peirce Reservoir, is home to many wildlife, the most notorious being the macaque monkeys. It’s also where Singapore’s first free-standing suspension bridge, the Treetop Walk, is.

Planning out research tactics for Upper Thomson Road / MacRitchie Reservoir

I visited the area and conducted short interviews with a couple of students (15-16 yrs) and a couple of adults (37 yrs, 40yrs) on how they viewed the area:

I also held a couple of email interviews with people who were familiar with the area: a couple of outdoor enthusiasts (one holds regular running expeditions at the area, and the other holding fishing trips), and a wildlife guide who holds guided trails educating members of the public on the wildlife there.

Interview with Jayasri, a wildlife guide at MacRitchie Reservoir
Interview with Holden, outdoor enthusiast who holds running expeditions at the reservoir

However, after looking more into the research and consulting with Joy, I realised that even though MacRitchie Reservoir does have its unique traits, it is quite difficult in expanding on the quantitative aspect of it, and the uniqueness may not be as strong enough. 

(Also, getting to the Treetop Walk is not easy, and when talking to JJ and Zhen Qi, they told me that the Treetop Walk is actually quite underwhelming).

So I decided to change my location to somewhere more interesting and easier to extract data from: Keong Saik Road!

Settling on final Choice

Because of time restraints due to my indecisiveness, I had to work quickly. I started with planning out the types of research and methods to adopt for the area:

Planning out research
Secondary Research

I first started on conducting secondary research on Keong Saik Road; using online sources such as online encyclopaedias and databases, articles, blogs and reviews, and websites, I found:

  • The history of Keong Saik Road
  • Overview of people’s perceptions of the area
  • The descriptive words they used
  • Its evolution as a red-light district (i.e. how it came to be)
  • Lifestyles of people involved when it was a red-light district
  • Articles on it being nominated as the 4th Must-Visit destination in Asia by Lonely Planet Guide in 2017

For a more extensive background on Keong Saik Road, please refer to:  https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/vwong005/project-2a-research/

I also found that a local author, Charmaine Leung, wrote 17A Keong Saik Road, which provides personal accounts of her growing up in the area when it was a red-light district.

Image result for 17a keong saik road
Image of 17A Keong Saik Road
Primary Research

Primary research, on the other hand, included conducting surveys, holding interviews, and visiting the site.

I. Survey
The survey

The survey was done on Typeform and administered to youths and adults. I distributed the survey by getting help from my friends (thank you!) and my parents and their friends/colleagues (thank you to them too!).

For a detailed look into the survey, please refer to: https://vanessa4.typeform.com/to/R4vVOi

The statistics was consolidated and categorised into different groups then translated into charts, which were then used in the presentation.

II. Interviews

I also conducted a short interview with a friend. I brought a friend, Fei, to Keong Saik Road and noted down her initial perceptions of the place and how it changed after taking her around and briefly explaining its history. I thought interviewing with her was suitable as she hadn’t been to the area in a very long time.

Also, when visiting Keong Saik Bakery, I had a short talk with one of the employees there and in addition to selling us some bread, she talked about how the bakery tried to retain some of the Keong Saik culture.

Bread at Keong Saik Bakery


Image of Sor Hei Bun
Image of a majie

The bakery had a speciality bun called the ‘Sor Hei’ bun that was modelled after the notable hairstyles of Majie, traditional women who worked as domestic workers and vowed to never get married. It was done in tribute to the previous shop owner who was a Majie.

Furthermore, it was interesting to see that the bakery had a range of buns that catered to both local and high-end flavours. E.g. there was a heibi-flavoured bun, and a champagne sourdough bun with fig and cream cheese.

III. Visiting the Site

Additionally, I did a site recce, where I took photos of the place and conducted observational data. The data collected involved:

Visitor Demographics

Taking a walk around the place, I generally noted down the visiting demographics, and found that there were a number of youths, adults, and elderly. Families and children were lacking.

For a more in-depth analysis, I sat in Keong Saik Bakery from 4pm to about 7pm and noted down the type of demographics and frequency at which they patronised the shop. I found that the bakery had a lot of youths and adults visit the shop as opposed to families with children.

Images of Keong Saik Road First row: Coffeeshops, Keong Saik Bakery Second row: Designs and colours of shophouses Third row: Potato Head Folk, Working Capitol, temple


When taking a walk around the area, I noted down the types of facilities, as well as the different types of eateries. There were restaurants, bars, cafes, small eateries, bakeries, convenience stores, and coffee shops.

The facilities, on the other hand, comprised of boutique hotels, spas and hair salons, and lounges and karaoke pubs.

Urban Ventures

When I was visiting the area, a local arts event was coincidentally taking place. The event was an annual event that takes place at Keong Saik Road, and they would typically block off the area for this. However, when reaching out to the organisers, they didn’t reply!

Presentation Preparation

After consolidating my research, I brainstormed ways in which I could present the data in an engaging yet relevant fashion.

Mindmap: Presentation methods

After going with a normal presentation, but in the style of a dining experience, I planned the visuals and content for each segment:


One of the main challenges I faced during this project was choosing a location. My first choice was actually MacRitchie Reservoir or the Upper Thomson area, but it was difficult in pinpointing a specific unique trait that the area had. I decided to go and conduct research about the place first and that wasted quite a substantial amount of time. Because of my indecisiveness and uncertainty in choosing the MacRitchie/Upper Thomson area, I had to change my location in the last minute! So one of the main challenges I had was the lack of time.

Some of the challenges I faced during this project were:

  • Going about conducting primary research: Because of the lack of time, I had to use efficient ways to conduct primary research across different demographics
  • My research wasn’t as substantial as I hoped – like the one with recording people’s changed perceptions of Keong Saik Road, I think it would be better if I could bring in interviews with people across different demographics

Feedback & Improvement

Post its from friends!
Post its from friends!

Some of the feedback I got about the presentation:

  • History of Keong Saik Road is interesting, would be interesting to see it translated into a zine
  • Method of using a dining setting and visuals to present the information is engaging

With the feedback, I hope to make the following improvements when starting on the zine:

  • Developing more on its history as a red-light district
  • Depicting its popularity as an F&B enclave in the zine
  • Adopting similar visuals and colour palette into the zine



Keong Saik Bakery – Charming Traditional-Meets-Modern Bakery


17A Keong Saik Road