Cathedral of the Good Shepherd and The Warehouse Hotel are built heritage restoration winners

The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd and The Warehouse Hotel received Architectural Heritage Awards on Oct 31.
The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd and The Warehouse Hotel received Architectural Heritage Awards on Oct 31.PHOTOS: DESMOND WEE, ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd and The Warehouse Hotel on Tuesday (Oct 31) picked up this year's Architectural Heritage Awards.

The honours, conferred by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), recognise the high standard of restoration work done on heritage buildings.

The team behind The Red House received a special mention for their effort to retain a familiar social memory of the Katong landmark, through its use as a local cafe.

Building owners and architects of the winning projects received prizes from Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee, at a ceremony at the Cathedral of Good Shepherd in Queen Street.

Mr Lee, who is also Minister for Social and Family Development, said: "I am encouraged to see such care and effort put in by the building owners and the community to restore and maintain these heritage buildings."

In a statement, the URA said that the winners have gone the extra mile, delving into the history and stories behind the buildings.

Their heritage is also kept alive through different storytelling methods, such as onsite storyboards, publications and even a heritage gallery.

"The teams managed to capture the value of buildings' past and make them relevant to the wider public in the modern context," the URA added.

Winning this year's award for restoration of The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd - built in 1847 and the oldest Catholic church in Singapore - is a team that includes the building's owner, the Titular Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore, the legal entity of the Catholic Church here.

Others in the team are architectural firm Architects 61, engineering firm ECAS Consultants, contractor Shanghai Chong Kee Furniture & Construction, and architectural conservation specialist consultancy Studio Lapis.

The awards assessment committee noted that many of the cathedral's original architectural elements have been successfully reinstated and given a new lease of life, such as the chequerboard floor tiles, the multi-coloured stained glass, the unusual green glass louvered windows and the distinctive pipe organ.

Said Ms Serena Tan, 45, associate principal of architectural firm Architects 61, who was part of the team behind the building's restoration: "Our overarching aim was to retain the dignity and beauty of the historic church and her buildings."

The team behind The Warehouse Hotel, a former godown along the Singapore River which has since been reborn as a boutique hotel, won this year's award for restoration and innovation.

Consisting of building owner I Hotel, architecture studio Zarch Collaboratives, engineering company JS Tan Consultants and contractor Towner Construction, the team was praised by URA for bringing out the heritage of the warehouse and the Singapore River, while adapting the building to a new use.

For example, the original vertical security bars of the windows were repaired and kept, but with an innovative touch to the frames so that they double up as a fire escape.

Said Mr Cheong Keng Hooi, 64, the sole director of I Hotel, and the hotel's owner: ""In my younger days, I walked by this building, and always found its architecture to be interesting and worth preserving."

The Red House, now an integrated heritage development consisting of 42 residential units, five commercial shophouses as well as a bakery-cafe, at the site of the former Red House Bakery, was given a special mention for re-establishing some memorable and intangible elements of Katong's heritage on 75 East Coast Road.

Said the URA: "Besides keeping the iconic red colour of the building, the owners deliberately set out to source for a new tenant who operates the same nature of business - a local cafe."

The URA added that the new cafe offers traditional local food items and its interior design takes cues from the former bakery.

Said Mr Zaini Osman, 40, chief executive officer of Warees Investments, which The Red House's development company is a subsidiary of: "Every award is special for everyone involved - from engineers, architects, contractors as well as our community partners - for their efforts to restore The Red House's physical elements and, in a way, rekindle the atmosphere of the past."

This award is also the team's contribution in shaping the urban heritage of Singapore, he added.

The annual Architectural Heritage Awards were launched in 1995 and are now in their 23rd year. A total of 130 projects have received the awards, including the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall in 2015 and the Sultan Mosque last year.

The URA has also launched the inaugural Architectural Heritage Season, a month-long celebration of Singapore's built heritage that starts on Wednesday (Nov 1).

The line-up of activities for this season includes talks, exhibitions and tours put together by URA with the support of the community.