73 national monuments 'under one roof' at exhibition to mark S'pore's preservation efforts

A visitor to the PSM50 exhibition enjoying a virtual experience of the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station at the PSM50 exhibition. PHOTO: ST
Ms Jean Wee (left), director of NHB’s Preservation of Sites and Monuments division, with artist Ashley Yeo and her artwork at the exhibition. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - Singapore's 73 monuments are located across the island, but from Saturday (Nov 13) to Jan 2, they will all be "under one roof" - at an exhibition featuring renditions of them in various forms, from paper cuttings to 3D-printed models to virtual reality.

The exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore marks 50 years since the Preservation of Monuments Act came into force in 1971, which started the Republic's preservation journey through the formation of the Preservation of Monuments Board.

It is today known as the Preservation of Sites and Monuments division under the National Heritage Board (NHB).

Eleven of the monuments at the exhibition were painstakingly recreated using 3D-printed models by Mr Matt Chiu, 29, a graduate from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD).

He said creating 3D renditions of old buildings was a challenge as he did not have clear building plans with precise measurements.

To overcome this, he relied on the street view function of Google Maps and Google Earth to get a clearer sense of each monument's features.

The models will help visitors appreciate monuments from a different perspective, as they offer a bird's eye view of the buildings, something that may not be possible on site, said Mr Chiu.

Equally intricate were artist Ashley Yeo's paper cuttings of nine monuments, which each took her about 1½ weeks to complete.

Ms Yeo, 31, said she leveraged design features or the heritage of each of the monuments to create backgrounds for each of her cuttings.

For instance, a circular decorative feature on the Church of St Teresa's facade is replicated six times in the background of her cutting of the church.

Other highlights showcase evolving NHB efforts to document and celebrate monuments.

Exhibited for the first time is a set of silver wafers that feature five of Singapore's first eight monuments to be gazetted in 1973.

Only 3,000 sets were minted, and each set went on sale for $205 in 1978.

At the exhibition, visitors can experience the former Tanjong Pagar Railway Station through virtual reality.

Eleven of the monuments at the exhibition were painstakingly recreated using 3D-printed models. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

The digital twin was put together by 14 SUTD students using software by French software firm Dassault Systemes, which sponsored the exhibit.

Through a headset, visitors can navigate through the station's main hall to take in its murals and its art deco-style facade.

Ms Jean Wee, director of NHB's Preservation of Sites and Monuments division, said she hopes the exhibition will help raise awareness of Singapore's 73 monuments, especially for those who are unfamiliar with them.

Asked how she hoped the next 50 years of Singapore's conservation journey would play out, she said: "The next 50 years would be about understanding how these monuments must continue to stay relevant to us as a nation."

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