Yueh Hai Ching temple and Lucky Shophouse pick up Unesco Asia-Pacific Heritage Award

The rear extension house in the Lucky Shophouse project. -- PHOTO: SHOOTING GALLERY ASIA
The rear extension house in the Lucky Shophouse project. -- PHOTO: SHOOTING GALLERY ASIA
The Lucky Shophouse in Joo Chiat. -- PHOTO: SHOOTING GALLERY ASIA
The Lucky Shophouse in Joo Chiat. -- PHOTO: SHOOTING GALLERY ASIA
The temple's gold gilding has been conserved, its timber structure restored and its once-dark prayer halls now infused with gentle lighting. This is one of the two shrines it houses. -- PHOTO: ST FILE 
The temple's gold gilding has been conserved, its timber structure restored and its once-dark prayer halls now infused with gentle lighting. This is one of the two shrines it houses. -- PHOTO: ST FILE 
A $7.5 million, five-year makeover of the Yueh Hai Ching temple (pictured) - which included two years on research alone - has taken home a 2014 Unesco Asia-Pacific Heritage Award. -- PHOTO: ST FILE 
A $7.5 million, five-year makeover of the Yueh Hai Ching temple (pictured) - which included two years on research alone - has taken home a 2014 Unesco Asia-Pacific Heritage Award. -- PHOTO: ST FILE 

SINGAPORE - A $7.5 million, five-year makeover of the Yueh Hai Ching temple - which included two years on research alone - has taken home a 2014 Unesco Asia-Pacific Heritage Award.

The Phillip Street temple, which can trace its roots back to 1826, picked up an award of merit alongside four other historic sites in the region such as Thailand's Phraya Si Thammathirat Residence.

Lucky Shophouse, a residential home in Joo Chiat that was formerly Lucky Bookstore, was also awarded the Unesco jury commendation for innovation.

Transformed by Chang Architects, the Unesco panel - comprising international conservation experts - noted that the shophouse project played up historic textures and colours while celebrating functionalism inherent in early 21st century design.

The awards programme recognises the efforts of private individuals and organisations that have successfully restored and conserved structures and buildings of heritage value in the region.

The panel met in June to review 46 entries.

The Yueh Hai Ching restoration project was bankrolled by the Ngee Ann Kongsi, a Teochew social welfare organisation. The project sought to restore the dilapidated temple to its original form.

Unesco noted that the temple, which has the highest density of craft and ornamentation works of any temple in Singapore, had been "methodically and meticulously conserved".

Architectural conservator Dr Yeo Kang Shua who led the project said the award is an "affirmation of the effort we put into the restoration of the temple".

There are less than 10 buildings here that can boast of such a title.

The assistant professor at the Singapore University of Technology and Design said: "The standards of conservation have gotten higher over the years and it's increasingly difficult to win an award from Unesco. So this recognition is testament that our approach is correct."

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