How a Singapore company is turning old retail properties into living spaces


While Singapore’s retail properties are historically important to the city-state, they are also being given a new lease of life as cold stores thanks to a local company called Figment.

Exterior shot of Singapore's traditional shophouses Figure shop premises not shown. John S Lander / Contributor / Getty Images

Fang Low, the CEO of Figment, grew up in a retail building in Singapore. He founded the company in 2019 and today Figment has 25 retail properties in historic neighborhoods in Singapore, including Emerald Hill, Joo Chiat and Jalan Besar. The company has 10 employees.

Figment gets its retail properties in three ways: it buys, rents or manages the retail properties on behalf of the owners. After Figment has renovated the space, it rents it out to individual tenants. There are about four to five rooms in each storehouse, and monthly rents range from S$2,000 to S$4,900 ($1,469 to $3,600) for a room, according to the company’s website.

For Low, the inspiration to transform retail properties into shared living spaces was partly socially driven.

“Figment was created in response to end that feeling of loneliness you might get in a new city,” Low told Insider.

Low and his team spoke to Insider about the process of renovating these historic homes and shared a series of before-and-after photos showing decades-old homes being transformed.

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