It was built in the 1854 by William Napier and subsequently taken over by the Sultan Abu Bakar of Johor who had the house re-built in 1892. The house has since been abundanted and a fire that broke out in 2006 destroyed the roof. Having seen the many photos of the Istana on the internet with its stunning architecture I decided to use it as a location shoot.
I know it is going to be quite difficult to find the place as it is located deep in private estate with large overgrown trees and forest. The model and I had to climb over some barriers, walked through a long dirt road surrounded what looks like jungle to me. Before long we came over an old interesting house. Initially I thought it is the house I was looking for but it wasn't. Looking around it, I see freshly laid dirt road with construction equipments. I realised we are on construction ground and the Istana I was looking for was no way in sight.
We decided to do the shoot at the house for the time being. Before long we started to see trucks after trucks passing us and kicking up dirt and smoke. It was quite a challenge to shoot with all the dust flying everywhere. We had a good an hour's shoot before a construction worker walked to me and told us to leave because we were on private property. I had a chat with him and managed to convinced him to let us shoot for just a little while. He told me the Istana house is up at the hill.
I do hope the house will still be around the next time I am in Singapore as I would love to do a shoot there. After the Istana ground we moved on to the old Army office blocks at Tanglin to finished the shoot.
Photos of Istana Woodneuk by Daniel Cheong
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