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Celebrating 30 years of shaping our heritage landscape together

Exciting line-up of events for the public and professionals mark 30 years of URA’s Conservation Programme
  Published: 21 October 2019

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) celebrates the 30th anniversary of its Conservation Programme this year, together with stakeholders and partners who have played a key role in protecting and sustaining Singapore’s built heritage. Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for National Development, Mr Desmond Lee, marked this significant milestone today by unveiling an exhibition documenting Singapore’s conservation journey, and announcing the winner for this year’s Architectural Heritage Awards (AHA).

A journey of partnerships in conservation

Despite Singapore’s priorities in urban redevelopment and the challenge then of having building owners recognise the value of conserving and restoring their buildings, URA’s pioneer planners with the support of the Ministry of National Development established the Conservation Programme in 1989 and gazetted 3,200 buildings in 10 conservation areas1. This cemented URA’s plan of shaping Singapore’s distinctiveness as a modern cityscape that is also rich in built heritage and identity.

Over time, public appreciation for heritage and identity has increased. Recognising the importance of building awareness and support from stakeholders in order to sustain conservation efforts, URA’s Conservation Programme strengthened outreach to building owners and the heritage community. To recognise good practices by the professional industry and encourage more building owners to contribute to the vibrancy of our heritage landscape, URA started the AHA in 1995.

Beyond quality restoration, URA also began to place increasing emphasis in sustaining the relevance of our built heritage through adaptive uses, storytelling and working with stakeholders to enliven conservation areas. Such community partnerships bring life to conserved precincts with public tours and activities, allowing more Singaporeans to appreciate and enjoy our built heritage landscape. For example, Kampong Glam stakeholders regularly close the streets to organise activities that showcase the rich culture and heritage of the precinct. URA also works with volunteers to organise public tours in conservation areas for the public to learn about their history and enjoy their unique charm.

The exhibition, titled “30 Years of Conservation”, tells the story of Singapore’s conservation journey through 30 years and more, including the challenges urban planners face, and key personalities who have been integral in shaping Singapore’s conserved landscape today. The exhibition is held at the URA Centre Atrium from now until 14 December 2019 (Monday – Saturday, 9am – 5pm), and admission is free.

CEO of URA, Mr Lim Eng Hwee, said, “Conservation is not just URA’s journey, but involves active participation and strong support from all stakeholders. Only then will our conserved buildings be meaningful and relevant to Singapore today, and can continue to be enjoyed by future generations. Our pioneers and partners have built a good foundation in shaping our vibrant heritage landscape over the past 30 years, and we celebrate their contributions today. We look forward to have the community’s continued support in protecting our built heritage, and to partner with more Singaporeans in the journey going forward.”

Recognising exemplary restoration – the 25th AHA

URA also conferred the annual AHA on two projects today: Temasek Shophouse at 28 Orchard Road, and a residential shophouse at 105 Onan Road.

URA conferred the Award for Restoration to Temasek Shophouse, which features restored details on its façade to bring back its original grandeur and internal partitions that were removed to showcase its double volume spaces. The enclosure over the rear courtyard was removed to open up the space, exposing open verandahs and a pair of original spiral staircases and allowing air and natural light into the building. The project team also introduced a garden to add greenery to the building’s rear façade and the streetscape. Guided by research on the building’s former uses and the Dhoby Ghaut area, the team restored the building’s original ornamentations and missing features, drawing the attention of pedestrians to come in and explore. The century-old three-storey building is home to Temasek’s Philanthropy arm, with space for its co-working partners as well as a public space on the ground level that invites the public in for some respite along the busy Orchard Road.

This year’s Special Mention went to a two-storey residential shophouse at 105 Onan Road for its thoughtful restoration that brings back the original intent of a shophouse that is to allow generous natural light and ventilation through the house. The restoration team creatively used recycled materials and upcycled discards in the restoration process, further adding sustainable elements to the low energy building. Today, the rejuvenated shophouse enlivens the street and serves as an inspiration to its neighbours. The deep involvement of the homeowners in the restoration process also encourages bold partnership between architects and owners.

With the addition of this year’s winners, there are now a total of 135 projects that have been conferred the AHA.

Refer to Annex A [PDF, 178kb] for the detailed write-ups of the projects, Annex B [PDF, 183kb] for the jury’s citations, and Annex C [PDF, 210kb] for details of the AHA scheme.

Series of activities to involve all in celebrating our built heritage

The 30th anniversary celebrations will also be marked by the third Architectural Heritage Season, organised in partnership with URA’s community partners to promote professional knowledge exchange and allow the public to learn about and experience our conservation areas. From today until the end of November, this Season will feature a series of specially curated site visits, exhibitions, seminars and events for the public and professionals.

As a highlight of this Season, the Tanjong Pagar precinct will be hosting the Day Out programme for the first time on 23 November – after the previous edition at Kampong Glam – with activities held across the Tanjong Pagar, Bukit Pasoh and Duxton areas. The public can learn about Tanjong Pagar and Bukit Pasoh – the first conservation areas that now also boasts new mixed use developments – through tours, exhibitions and film screenings. There will also be family-friendly activities such as a farmer’s market and a sing-a-long session. Pop-up installations will adorn the precinct, adding colour and vibrancy across the various activity areas.

As part of URA’s continued outreach efforts to the youth, it has collaborated with two designers from the Singapore Institute of Technology to design a booklet that covers heritage gems in more than 20 locations around Tanjong Pagar and Bukit Pasoh. The self-exploration guide will be distributed at the event to the public to enhance their experience at the Tanjong Pagar Day Out.

Students from School of the Arts are also participating this year with artworks specially designed to complement the “30 Years of Conservation” exhibition. The artworks, exhibited on the glass façade of the URA Centre, showcase the perspective of the student designers on our heritage buildings.

URA has also collaborated with the National Youth Achievement Awards to work with more than 100 students from secondary and tertiary institutions this year to document Kampong Glam and Crawford Estate. Guided by professional photographer mentors over four workshops, the students explored the area over six months to document the landscape through photography. Their selected works will be exhibited at the Malay Heritage Centre from 18 November to 16 December.

As part of the Architectural Heritage Season, the public can also sign up for tours at this year’s AHA winner Temasek Shophouse and St Patrick’s School to learn about the history of the conserved buildings.

Refer to Annex D [PDF, 232kb] for details of the Architectural Heritage Season. 

#AHASG #AHASG19


1 The 10 conservation areas are Telok Ayer, Kreta Ayer, Tanjong Pagar, Bukit Pasoh, Little India, Kampong Glam, Boat Quay, Clarke Quay, Cairnhill and Emerald Hill.

Speech by Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for National Development, at the 2019 Architectural Heritage Awards

 

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