Published May 5, 2007

Place older buildings' heritage along with commercial value

Professional body urges reviews to aid conservation


EN bloc sales of old residential developments may take a new twist if the Singapore Institute of Architects (SIA) has its way.

Highlighting developments like Futura and Beverly Mai, which were sold through collective sales last year, SIA president Tai Lee Siang said: 'We need to urgently debate whether these buildings form the architectural heritage of our city.'

Acknowledging that there were 'inherent difficulties', tied to the commercial value of the land, Mr Tai nevertheless said that there could be buildings that were less than 30 years old that had the same value as national monuments or conserved shop houses.

Highlighting another development that could potentially be put on the block - the Golden Mile Complex - Mr Tai explained that its design, 'pioneered mixed development thinking' and 'pointed to the future of urban renewal that was relevant at that time'.

He said: 'Given that buildings that fit such criteria of review are few and far between, it is worthy to consider national level solutions to prevent such buildings from being demolished.'

The SIA president did point out, however, that it is not currently in discussions with the relevant authorities on this matter.

Mr Tai was speaking at the press conference held for the SIA 46th annual dinner celebration last night, which saw the professional association confer its highest honour on a non-architect - the Honorary Fellow of the Singapore Institute of Architects - on Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong.

In his acceptance speech, Mr Goh said: 'Given increasing demand on land use, we must find new and innovative ways to maximise our limited space.'

He also said: 'The government will be bold and creative in working with partners in the private sector like architects, building owners and developers.'

He said: 'Overall, I would say that we are on the right track to become a truly global city, yet one which is distinct from others because it is a tropical city where the East truly blends with the West in harmony.'

The occasion of the SIA annual dinner was also an opportunity for Mr Tai, who is serving his first term as president, to present the institute's manifesto for 2007.

Mr Tai said that the manifesto was not about making policy changes but 'changing mindsets'.

Mr Tai said that architects need to take a more active role in designing the city. He said: 'For too long, economics and rules have been blamed for stifling creativity . . . Our designs must now seek new solutions, new materials and new ways of design to ensure that our city is not one of boredom but one bustling with energy of creativity.'