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In Singapore, where graffiti is banned, young creatives have taken over an abandoned mall, spray painting colourful murals and holding art workshops to bring the space back to life.

Around half a century old, Peace Centre is scheduled to face the wrecking ball later this year, but fans say it has provided a rare space for self- expression.

Permission from authorities is required for any kind of street art in the Southeast Asian country.

In August last year, PlayPan, an initiative co-founded by entrepreneur Gary Hong, convinced developers to postpone the mall’s demolition.

The answer the initiative’s backers received was that they could go ahead and use the space for “a social experiment to bring (the) community together”, Hong told AFP.

They were given the space to host performances and workshops for several months, allowing artists, students, charities and small businesses to set up shop for free or at heavily discounted rates.

The eclectic mix of pop-up stores, art tours and musical performances has transformed the once lacklustre mall into an unexpected art haven.

At the end of January, however, the mall will close definitively, bringing an end to the art project.

Peace Centre was once a popular mall but lost its shine to glitzier shopping centres that mushroomed over recent years.

In the last two decades it was mostly known for its printing shops and seedy karaoke lounges.

Since its revamp into an art space, young people have attended graffiti workshops, colouring shuttered shopfronts with spray cans while punters browsed through second-hand clothing stalls and exhibits.

“It’s not something you do on a normal weekend, less so inside an indoor area, in a mall,” said Darryl Poh, a 29-year-old sales trader who took part in a spray-painting workshop.

‘Very organic’

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