Singapore's conservation efforts have taken an imaginative turn with the decision to put up six sites, both existing buildings and state land plots, for tender, with bidders being encouraged to come up with innovative proposals for their redevelopment. Business owners, architects and designers are being challenged to team up and test their business concepts in these selected spaces. The goal is to reinforce the unique character of an area and complement it. The first state property to be launched for tender comprises two shophouses in the heart of the Kampong Glam historic district. The seriousness of the objective is underlined by the decision to assess bids for it with equal weighting on price and quality of concept.
The tenders reflect the closer attention paid to conservation in a fast-paced modernising society and build on advances that have been made. The Urban Redevelopment Authority's conservation guidelines consider the historical significance of each conservation district, the contextual relevance of surrounding developments, and long-term plans for the area. The strictest form of building conservation is practised in the historic districts of Boat Quay, Chinatown, Kampong Glam and Little India. The residential historic districts of Emerald Hill, Cairnhill and Blair Plain are important not least because of their continuity in use. The secondary settlements of Jalan Besar, Beach Road, River Valley, Geylang and Joo Chiat owe their origins to after World War I, but have made their mark indelibly on the evolution of Singapore's architectural identity. Then, there are the Good Class Bungalow areas and the Mountbatten Road conservation area.