Improve interior, maintain exterior of ageing landmarks

Ms Amanda Lee Koe's article on the preservation of Singapore's post-independence architectural landmarks resonates strongly with me (If this is home, truly, it should look like home; April 1).

Golden Mile Complex, Golden Mile Tower, People's Park Centre and People's Park Complex are not only historically significant, but also personally significant to many Singaporeans.

However, we also have to recognise the economic realities of businesses operating out of these buildings and the daily inconveniences faced by residents who are living in comparatively old buildings in need of upgrading.

These buildings - iconic and historically significant as they are - are first and foremost commercial and residential spaces.

A recent report found that many of the shop owners were in favour of a collective sale (Golden Mile, People's Park buildings join collective sale fever; March 8).

It seems that it is becoming harder to make a living out of these ageing spaces that, some may say, are in need of an upgrade.

If we want to preserve these treasured landmarks, we have to find a solution to the economic problems underlying the collective sale bids for such buildings.

To begin with, the owners can consider a market-based solution to the business problem.

Improving the interior structure of these buildings, such as by upgrading the lifts and refurbishing the inside spaces, could attract more patrons to the restaurants and shops housed within.

As consumers, we can vote with our dollar for these buildings to stay by patronising the shops and restaurants more frequently.

If these buildings are sold, the National Heritage Board should mandate that developers maintain and restore the iconic exterior architecture of the buildings - the same way the neo-classical features of the Fullerton Building were preserved when it was converted into The Fullerton Hotel.

We are a country renowned for our urban innovation.

This is a prime opportunity for Singapore to use its characteristic pragmatism and business know-how to help preserve its national heritage and identity.

Cheang Ko Lyn (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 08, 2018, with the headline 'Improve interior, maintain exterior of ageing landmarks'. Print Edition | Subscribe