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  Business Times 02 Oct 07
URA aims to conserve up to 228 Katong/Joo Chiat buildings
More developers, owners expending resources to buy and restore their old buildings: Mah Bow Tan
By Arthur Sim

The Straits Times 2 Oct 07
Over 200 more buildings in Katong area may be conserved
By Tan Hui Yee

Today Online 2 Oct 07
An eastern charm in S'pore
Another 228 buildings in the Joo Chiat/Katong area identified for preservation
Zul Othman

FROM landmark churches to picturesque pre-war shop houses, the Joo Chiat and Katong area is an undisputed hotbed of architectural diversity and the historical home for the local Eurasian and Peranakan community.

Given its unique mix of exquisite architecture, history and culture, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has identified another 228 buildings for preservation. These are in addition to the more than 700 historical landmarks located along key roads such as Joo Chiat Road and East Coast Road, as well as 15 bungalows on Mountbatten Road, that have already been gazetted for conservation.

Speaking at the URA Architectural Heritage Awards presentation ceremony at the National Museum of Singapore yesterday, Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan said that the URA recently embarked on public consultation with the owners of the 228 buildings earmarked for conservation.

Said Mr Mah: "The aim of this conservation proposal is to complete conservation of the street block and add to the critical mass of heritage buildings and rich architectural diversity in Katong and Joo Chiat."

Seeking the individual owners' views, he added, was in line with the URA's consultative approach.

"It also contributes to a more transparent process in gazetting buildings for conservation (and) will take into account the owners' feedback," he said.

Among the buildings targeted in this proposal will be the bungalows, terrace houses and shop houses in Koon Seng Road, Onan Road and Carpmael Road, as well as landmarks such as St Hilda's Church at Ceylon Road and the single storey Bethesda (Katong) Church at Pennefather Road.

Mr Mah also announced plans to build a new 4.9km waterfront promenade stretching from Punggol Point to Sungei Serangoon, as well as projects to revitalise the older housing estates of Woodlands and Siglap Village "in order to enhance the distinct character, identity and overall environment of each area".

These improvements are targeted for completion between 2008 and 2010.

"As a land-scarce nation, we have to take a pragmatic and balanced approach towards conservation," he said.

"Creating an endearing home goes beyond individual heritage buildings, it is also about strengthening the identity of places where we live, work and play."

Since 1989, the URA has gazetted more than 5,600 buildings for conservation. In addition, 55 buildings with historical significance have been earmarked as national monuments.

The Straits Times 2 Oct 07
Over 200 more buildings in Katong area may be conserved
By Tan Hui Yee

THE rich heritage of Katong and Joo Chiat district will get more protection from the wrecking ball with a further 228 buildings earmarked for conservation status.

The buildings include landmarks such as St Hilda's Church, the Bethesda (Katong) Church and the former Grand Hotel in Still Road South.

Three bungalows - in Marine Parade Road, Chapel Road and Joo Chiat Road - have also been selected.

The buildings were selected to serve as markers of the area's heritage.

St Hilda's Church, for example, was built in 1949 and is designed in a simple English parish church style while the former Grand Hotel building was built in 1917 in the ornamented Victorian style with a slight Indian influence.

There are already about 700 buildings under conservation orders in the East Coast area, traditional home of Singapore's Eurasian and Peranakan communities and a haven for food-lovers.

The plan was announced by National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan yesterday at the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) Architectural Heritage Awards ceremony.

The URA has told the building owners about the conservation plan. Its final decision will be made after feedback.

Conservation orders mean owners cannot demolish the building or make major alterations to structures or facades.

But the URA noted that most can be redeveloped to their full economic potential even if conserved.

One owner, Ms Lyn Lee, 34, wants the certainty a conservation order would bring. Ms Lee, who owns the Awfully Chocolate cakeshop chain, lives in a pre-war, three-storey shophouse in Tembeling Road, one of a row of 10 houses.

She and her husband bought the ageing freehold property for $880,000 six years ago and have spent about $500,000 renovating it into a home for themselves and their three children. They do not intend to move.

'It's very important that someday, somebody won't come and mow down three houses and build a pink-tiled monstrosity,' she said.

Some of her neighbours are considering upgrading the neighbourhood if it is eventually conserved.

The 228 buildings proposed for conservation were chosen from about 1,000 buildings in the area that are more than 30 years old. More than 6,500 buildings have been conserved in Singapore.

The announcement was bittersweet for interest group Historic Architecture Rescue Plan, which has been lobbying the Government to conserve various properties in the district.

One - a 95-year-old Amber Road bungalow - could only be partly conserved. Earlier this year, its developer agreed to build a hybrid apartment block incorporating some elements of the old building, but it plans to tear down its much vaunted crescent-shaped section.

Mr Mah told the ceremony guests that Singapore had to strike a constant balance between redevelopment and conservation.

Six projects were singled out in the URA awards yesterday for sensitive or innovative restoration work, including the National Museum and Chek Jawa Visitor Centre in Pulau Ubin.

Mr Mah also announced the URA would be enhancing various districts next year. These include a 4.9km waterfront promenade from Punggol Point to Sungei Serangoon and a coastal promenade in Woodlands.

It will also improve roadside infrastructure in Siglap and Upper Serangoon Road.

The Straits Times 2 Oct 07
2007 Architectural Heritage Award winners

# The National Museum: Restored to its former glory, with a new rear extension. Part of the original tiled roof was cut away for a glass connector, offering an unhindered view of its historic dome.

# Chek Jawa Visitor Centre: Believed to be the only remaining authentic Tudor- style house with a fireplace here, it was sensitively restored.

# National University of Singapore Law School: Home to various institutions for more than 80 years, it had to be adapted to meet the functions of the NUS law faculty.

# Amara Sanctuary Resort Sentosa: The former military barracks were converted into an eco-sanctuary with a tropical feel.

# 13 Martaban Road: This transitional style terrace house has been restored into a modern home filled with natural light and ventilation.

# 62 Niven Road: This squat shophouse has had a four- storey extension built at the rear, where full-length glass windows and a steel-mesh sunscreen add a modern function.

Business Times 02 Oct 07
URA aims to conserve up to 228 Katong/Joo Chiat buildings
More developers, owners expending resources to buy and restore their old buildings: Mah Bow Tan
By Arthur Sim

THE East Coast may be a hive of new construction activity right now, but the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is also working to keep some old buildings conserved for posterity.

Minister of National Development Mah Bow Tan revealed yesterday that the planning authority was looking at conserving up to 228 buildings in the Katong/Joo Chiat area. The URA is seeking feedback from the owners.

The area already has 700 gazetted conservation buildings. Most of the additional buildings under consideration are shophouses or terrace houses. The addition will make Katong/Joo Chiat one of the larger clusters of conserved residential buildings.

Mr Mah said: 'The aim of this conservation proposal is to complete conservation of the street block and add to the critical mass of heritage buildings and rich architectural diversity in Katong and Joo Chiat.'

Mr Mah was speaking at the presentation ceremony of the URA Architectural Heritage Awards (AHA) 2007. Awards were presented to the owners, architects, engineers and contractors of six buildings. These were: # National Museum of Singapore; # The 1930s holiday home on Pulau Ubin of the former chief surveyor, Landon Williams; # Amara Sanctuary Resort Sentosa; # National University of Law, Bukit Timah Campus; # 13 Martaban Road, Balestier; # and 62 Niven Road, Mount Sophia.

Since the awards' inception in 1995, a total of 77 buildings have received the AHA.

Mr Mah said: 'Increasingly, more and more enlightened developers and owners have willingly expended resources to buy and restore their conservation buildings for the benefit of the larger society and our future generations.'

One such person is Lyn Lee, who together with her husband bought a house on Tembeling Road six years ago for about $800,000 and then spent another $500,000 on restoring it. This house and others like it on the same road are now being considered for conservation - and Ms Lee is all for it.

Getting conservation status will increase the value of the building as its future is guaranteed. But more important for Ms Lee is that the conservation status means owners who want to alter their homes beyond conservation guidelines will not be allowed to do so.

'Right now, there is a beautiful symmetry to the street,' she explained. This sense of identity of place is exactly what URA hopes to do by restoring or creating 'markers' in housing estates as well. Mr Mah also said that apart from plans to rejuvenate Queenstown, the government is proposing to build a 4.9km promenade to link Punggol Point and Sungei Serangoon to enhance the 'rustic coastal character'.

Other areas being looked at include Woodlands, Siglap Village and Upper Serangoon Road. Mr Mah said these projects could be completed by around 2009-2010.

Related articles on Singapore: general environmental issues
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