A clutch of freshly restored historical icons and landmarks such as the gleaming Jurong Town Hall, The Great Madras boutique hotel in Little India and the colourful headquarters of home-grown biscuit brand Khong Guan have been gaining attention on social media over the past year.
Yesterday, the projects were conferred awards for demonstrating "exceptional restoration and innovative work" on heritage buildings by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).
The URA also launched a new category - award for New Design in Heritage Contexts - for new buildings with outstanding design that complements and enriches their heritage setting. This went to two new structures - the Kwek Hong Png and Riverfront wings - which were added to the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM), where the awards ceremony was held.
The URA said the additions to the ACM, a 19th-century neo-Palladian-styled national monument, were done masterfully and subtly. This resulted in "new vistas, vantage points and physical connections between the museum and the historic surroundings, and enhanced public interaction with the building".
Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee said at the ceremony that the winners tell the Singapore story collectively.
"They are enduring and visible reminders of what we have been through as a young nation. So, it is inspiring to see the careful and painstaking work each of the teams has put into their projects to give these precious landmarks new leases of life," said Mr Lee, who is also Minister for Social and Family Development.
The restoration project on Jurong Town Hall, which was once the headquarters of Jurong Town Corporation, was recognised for recovering the period appearance of its main entrance and its original atrium staircase.
NEW LEASE OF LIFE FOR LANDMARKS
They are enduring and visible reminders of what we have been through as a young nation. So, it is inspiring to see the careful and painstaking work each of the teams has put into their projects to give these precious landmarks new leases of life.
SECOND MINISTER FOR NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT DESMOND LEE, on the award-winning restoration works.
The national monument's original materials and finishes, including ceramic tiles and Volakas marble, have been meticulously cleaned to showcase their beauty.
The Great Madras, a pre-war Singapore Improvement Trust apartment building which has been revamped into a 34-room boutique hotel, was acknowledged for embracing a consistent Art Deco-inspired design which has attracted a younger crowd to enliven Little India, said the URA.
The 1950s Khong Guan Building - a three-storey trapezoid structure - in the MacPherson-Paya Lebar area, was given an award for restoration and innovation. Its main doorway, with its mosaic tiles, metal grille gate and three-dimensional red star, was reinstated.
Soon, the public will be able to step through this doorway which once served as the shopfront of the Khong Guan biscuit factory. A cafe operator has rented the first storey of the building and the eatery is slated to open by the end of the year, said Mr Daniel Chew, the executive director of Khong Guan Limited.
Blending the new and old seamlessly, an eight-storey extension meant for offices and light industrial use was also added to the site.
Mr Chew said: "The Chew family has retained the building and now we have revamped it and continue to operate out of it after 66 years."
A special mention was also given to the Sophia Hills residential development, which is home to three conserved structures: the former Trinity Theological College Chapel, the former Nan Hwa Girls' High School and the former Methodist Girls' School's Olson Building.
The URA said the extensive research and careful restoration of the buildings were commendable.