Engage new owners to conserve 'Big Four' buildings

I fail to understand how Ms Amanda Lee Koe has doubts about whether a building for the public, like the Esplanade, was built for "us", but does not have the same doubts about structures that were constructed by private developers, such as Pearl Bank Apartments or Golden Mile Complex and Tower (If this is home, truly, it should look like home; April 1).

Take Pearl Bank Apartments as an example. Was it really built for "us", or for a specific group of home owners and investors? While the architectural gem commands immense value as a part of Singapore's cultural heritage, we should not get overly sentimental in a bid to preserve it. The state does not own Pearl Bank Apartments or the other buildings from the 1970s termed the "Big Four" - People's Park Complex and Golden Mile Complex and Tower. Conserving the Big Four would be expensive for the state's coffers and taxpayers.

Instead, architecture and heritage enthusiasts should try to engage the new owners of these buildings, with the authorities chipping in with progressive regulations, some incentives or even investments for an equity stake to get the ball rolling.

I am hopeful CapitaLand, the new owner of Pearl Bank Apartments, will work with the relevant parties to find a sustainable way forward for the building. Conservation and adaptive reuse - including the construction of an annexe - that opens the development to the wider public, should be seriously considered.

Toh Cheng Seong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 08, 2018, with the headline 'Engage new owners to conserve 'Big Four' buildings'. Print Edition | Subscribe