Survey on Singapore's heritage sites to kick off in the coming months

Shophouses along Joo Chiat Terrace. The first comprehensive survey of Singapore's tangible heritage will start in the middle of this year, covering buildings, structures, sites and landscape features of architectural, historical and cultural interest
Shophouses along Joo Chiat Terrace. The first comprehensive survey of Singapore's tangible heritage will start in the middle of this year, covering buildings, structures, sites and landscape features of architectural, historical and cultural interest. -- PHOTO: ST FILE 

SINGAPORE - The first comprehensive survey of Singapore's tangible heritage will start in the middle of this year.

The National Heritage Board (NHB) effort will cover buildings, structures, sites and landscape features of architectural, historical and cultural interest.

It will also include structures or sites completed before 1980, those associated with historical events which influenced the development of the nation or community, as well as places with social, cultural or educational significance.

The board said that the survey will have two components. The first involves "desktop research" which will tap on maps, newspaper records, archival materials and other publications to consolidate data about a place.

The second involves field work which will capture the geographic coordinates, architectural features, and the physical condition of the structure or site. If information is limited, interviews with the community and other stakeholders will be conducted.

Minister for Community Culture and Youth Lawrence Wong announced the two-year-long nationwide survey in March. He said the main objectives are to do a stock-take on the current state of heritage buildings and sites here.

The effort is expected to cost approximately $1 million.

The NHB will also use the survey's findings to work with the Urban Redevelopment Authority to "enhance heritage considerations" at each stage of land planning.

The board added that significant buildings and structures identified through the survey will undergo further research as part of the consideration process for possible preservation or conservation.

NHB said that it adapted the heritage survey from similar ones done in other places such as Hong Kong.

Hong Kong had conducted a survey of historic buildings in 1996, which identified more than 8,800 buildings built before 1950. This was followed by more in-depth research and assessment to identify buildings of greater heritage value.

NHB's chief executive Rosa Daniel said the exercise is a step forward in enhancing the county's capabilities in research, documentation and commemoration.

"As Singapore's population grows, it is important to ensure that in tandem with intensified development, there are increased efforts to preserve our heritage...

"The (survey's) outcomes will also contribute to our land planning and development processes to preserve heritage and mitigate the loss of heritage value," she said.

Its methodology and implementation will be guided by members of its newly-formed Heritage Advisory Panel comprising architecture, geography, sociology, anthropology and history experts.

They include Professor Brenda Yeoh, dean of the National University of Singapore's Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, architect Mr Zahidi Abdul Rahman and Mr Eric Chin, the director of the National Archives of Singapore.