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Thread: Frankenstein buildings?

  1. #1
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    Default Frankenstein buildings?

    June 19, 2007

    'Hybrid' condo to replace Katong bungalow

    Facade and porch of Amber Road bungalow will stay but the rest will be torn down

    By Lim Wei Chean



    SOMETHING old, something new - come 2009, a 'hybrid' apartment block will emerge at 23, Amber Road.

    The original 95-year-old Neo-Renaissance-style bungalow was the subject of a petition last December calling for its conservation.

    Designed by the architect of the iconic Raffles Hotel, the unusual crescent-shaped two-storey bungalow had stood out in the Katong area.

    The developer has now come up with a hybrid design as a compromise, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said yesterday.

    Developer AG Capital bought the 1,095 sqm site for $8.9 million last year with plans to tear down the bungalow and build a high-rise condominium.

    Now, the 'old' part - about 125 sqm in total and gazetted to be conserved - will be the entrance porch and facade facing the main road.

    The rest of the house - designed in 1912 by Regent Alfred John Bidwell, who also designed the Victoria Memorial Hall and Goodwood Park Hotel - will be torn down.

    The 'new' part will be an 18-storey building with 54 apartment units.

    URA deputy director of conservation and development services Teh Lai Yip called the new plan a 'great solution' that 'preserves the history' for the heritage petitioners but also 'offers diversity' for the developer.

    Referring to maximising land use, she said: 'It is impossible to keep the original...We have to look not just at falling in love with the building but also what is the planning intention for the area.'

    Other old buildings like the Tan Chin Tuan Mansion in the Cairnhill area were also given a new lease of life by the addition of newly built wings.

    Media officer Terence Hong, 26, one of the petitioners last year, had mixed feelings. He was pleased that part of it will be preserved.

    But he added: 'This bungalow is special because of its crescent-shaped structure. That will be taken away.'

    He was among a group that went by the name Historic Architecture Rescue Plan (Harp). It started a public drive, through online means and fliers, to urge conserving the building after members got wind of the developer's plans.

    URA's Mrs Teh said it has been working with the developer over the last few months on how to save the building. A compromise was reached - to save the porch and facade.

    As part of the agreement, the developer was given concessions on new entry and exit points and a reduction of the green buffer around the property.

    But not everyone sees its as a good compromise.

    Architect Alan Tay, who has worked on conservation of shophouses, when approached for comments, said: 'It looks silly now, like the new was just stuck on the old.'

    [email protected]

    TWO-IN-ONE SOLUTION

    'It is impossible to keep the original...We have to look not just at falling in love with the building but also what is the planning intention for the area.'
    MRS TEH LAI YIP, URA deputy director of conservation and development services, saying the new plan preserves the history for the heritage petitioners but also 'offers diversity' for the developer


    NO NATURALITY

    'It looks silly now, like the new was just stuck on the old.'
    ARCHITECT ALAN TAY, who has worked on conservation of shophouses


  2. #2
    Bo Liao
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    Default Re: 'Hybrid' condo to replace Katong bungalow

    Silly."URA deputy director of conservation and development services Teh Lai Yip called the new plan a 'great solution' that 'preserves the history' for the heritage petitioners but also 'offers diversity' for the developer."

  3. #3
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    Default Frankenstein buildings?

    June 24, 2007

    Frankenstein buildings?

    Some experts think the 'hybrid' condo idea to replace unique Katong bungalow does not work

    By Melissa Sim


    ONE half colonial bungalow, and one half glass and steel skyscraper, the proposed condominium at 23 Amber Road has some people calling it a 'Frankenstein building'.

    The crescent-shaped half of the stately 95-year-old Neo-Renaissance-style bungalow on the site will be hacked away to make space for a modern 18-storey condominium.

    The plan was announced last week, after the Historic Architecture Rescue Plan (Harp) group lobbied to save the whole house.

    Similar patched-up conservation works are common in the face of rapid redevelopment here, such as Gambier Court in Kim Yam Road and the commercial building The Cathay.

    Some work. Others, not so much, said architects interviewed.

    To successfully integrate old buildings with new developments, several considerations must be made: first, conservation of the old, and second, relating new designs to the old.

    Singapore Institute of Architects president Tai Lee Siang said: 'It is important to understand the principle of scale and proportion between the old and new so that they can forge a strong relationship.'

    The Amber Road plan fails on all counts, say experts.

    First, its design is slated for a very tight space - just 11,786 sq ft - which will make the new building look as though it is stuck onto the old.

    Mr Tai said: 'I can't see a direct relationship between the old and new buildings and because of the tight site, I can't say it looks comfortable.'

    Secondly, not only will half of the building be demolished, experts say it's the wrong half.

    Singapore Heritage Society president Kevin Tan said: 'The crescent part used to be the front of the house, facing the sea. If you cut that off, it's like slicing off the face and keeping the backside.'

    One building which has already suffered a similar fate is The Cathay. There, Mr Tan feels, the 'transition' between the old facade and the new glass buildings at the back 'is too stark'.

    But the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) feels that the plan for Amber Road is a 'great solution', adding that keeping the building's crescent section would be difficult because it sits in the middle.

    Mr Tan Chee Beng, one of the directors of developer AG Capital, thinks it has done all it can.

    In fact, the site was due for development, with 'no conservation at all', he said.

    'But as good citizens, we were willing to explore various options with URA.'

    Still, some say more can be done. Singapore Heritage Society's Mr Tan suggests constructing the new building on pillars so apartments start higher up - a method that saved the Tan Chin Tuan house in Cairnhill.

    The house, which belongs to the family of philanthropist banker Tan Chin Tuan, now sits below a new 20-storey condominium, Tan Chin Tuan Mansion.

    The head of Harp, Mr Terrence Hong, 26, said: 'In 10 years, if you want to dismantle the building above the house, it can still be done and the house will be intact.

    'At Amber Road, it will be irreversible.'

    But successful hybrids do exist, such as residential properties Sandalwood in Tembeling Road, Grand Duchess in St Patrick's Road and Gambier Court.

    Gambier Court's 'cross' motif on the old terrace houses were repeated on the balconies of the 10-storey condominium.

    Mr James Toh, group managing director of the ACT Group of Companies Singapore, which developed Gambier Court, said materials for the new building were inspired by the originals.

    Mr Tan from the Heritage Society said: 'It doesn't jar and it works seamlessly.'

    Unfortunately, such sensitivities seem lacking at The Cathay and the proposed Amber Road condominium, said experts interviewed.

    The public has till July 7 to send their feedback on the proposed plan for 23 Amber Road to the Ministry of National Development.

    [email protected]



    SOME TWO-IN-ONE PROPERTIES HAVE SUCCEEDED in combining the old and new, like the Gambier Court (above) in Kim Yam Road and the Tan Chin Tuan Mansion in Cairnhill. -- ST FILE PHOTO


    SOME TWO-IN-ONE PROPERTIES HAVE SUCCEEDED in combining the old and new, like the Gambier Court in Kim Yam Road and the Tan Chin Tuan Mansion (above) in Cairnhill. -- WANG HUI FEN


    But some experts feel that the plan to integrate some part of the 95-year-old Amber Road bungalow (above) into a proposed 18-storey glass and steel condominium fails on all counts. -- WANG HUI FEN


    But some experts feel that the plan to integrate some part of the 95-year-old Amber Road bungalow into a proposed 18-storey glass and steel condominium (above) fails on all counts. -- URA

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