Preservation in Singapore (Singapore)

In Singapore, for some time, the movement to demolish the old Chinatown and rebuild it into a new building by redevelopment had been tremendous. Since I red such a current in a distant place, I had been convinced that Singapore would not retains some trace of its past.

Lee Kuan Yew himself wrote that, in the 1960s, they promoted the urban revitalization plan in a blindly manner, so the mass media reports were not contrary to reason.

In 1971, Lee himself set up a historical site preservation office since he had remembered a certain kind of uneasiness about the development speed.

As a result of having focused on preservation of historically and culturally valuable buildings since then, the number of architectures to be preserved increased to 6400 buildings in 2004.

When walking downtown, the venerable colonial architectures from the colonial era became landmarks from point to point, and streetscapes composed of shophouses unique to Chinatown also remain. The attitude towards preservation is much advanced than Tokyo. That impressed me and made reflect my preconceptions.

Though the directivity had already switched 40 years ago, the reason why the image of Singapore unforgivable to old things still doesn’t disappear might be the mass media’s bias coverage about which Lee had told constantly, that is, the posture to report only negative topics.

But, it is Singaporean style or Lee Kuan Yew style that I can’t say I had underrated that.

In a nutshell, it is a pragmatic preservation.

One is favoritism to facade. For a building that remains its front facade, it is generous to change the inside. The former post office has now become the Fullerton Hotel. Inside the exquisite Neo Baroque exterior is a lobby with a large void where an aerial corridor crosses. The cultural property façade is remained as a stage setting while the interior is renovated into a surprisingly lackluster contemporary style.

The other is commercialism. For example, what about the old church changed into a party space and the monastery renovated into a commercial facility ? Even if those are a part of old churches preserved in the original style, there would be no people who voice blaspheme against religion ? Well, the clear cut conclusion that even a church is not an exception is just Lee Kuan Yew style.

The Raffles Hotel now has become one of Asia's leading luxury hotels. In the late 1980s, as for renovation of the hotel that had been desolating, the financial institution as the owner had temporized. The Prime Minister Lee personally interfered that the government would purchase compulsorily if it had not been renovated properly. Soon, the restoration project began and, as the result, the hotel enhanced attractions than before and has become the symbol of Singapore. That is also Lee Kuan Yew style.

To Japanese Version

Google Maps

The whole area of the downtown in Shingapore.



Architecture Heritage Singapore (APD SIngapore Pte LTD, 2004)

2010.02 Photos in English version, and photos and text in Japanese version

2018.01 Change of photos

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Examples of preservation in Singapore

Photo by Daigo Ishii