The issue of built heritage, especially the collective sales of post-independence landmarks such as Pearl Bank Apartments, has gained prominence in recent years. At the same time, activism and public engagement of various sites such as Bukit Brown Cemetery and Dakota Crescent SIT flats reflect growing interest in the issue. Even as more buildings and landmarks are being conserved and repurposed, questions surrounding the meaning, purpose and process of built heritage conservation have become more salient.
Beyond fostering a sense of national consciousness among Singaporeans, built landmarks and sites are considered an important tangible element of the Singaporean national identity. Conversely, the loss of old buildings can weaken one’s sense of place and contribute to a sense of displacement.
This seminar will explore perceptions and practices pertaining to built heritage from the lenses of civic activism, policy planning, business undertakings and broader perspectives of Singaporeans. How can we be sensitive to diverse attitudes towards built heritage, and improve the processes of evaluation, planning, discussion and decision-making that go into heritage work? What factors and dynamics must be taken into consideration when exploring conservation, redevelopment and repurposing? These questions will be addressed through two panels and a guided tour.
The first panel focuses on heritage as a process of meaning-making. It introduces the factors that commonly guide the evaluation of heritage sites, examining how knowledge, lived experiences, memories and the discernment of the senses intertwine to constitute perceptions of built heritage. In turn, built heritage can influence the sense of national identity. The translation of perceptions into action requires proponents of conservation to consider the challenges that different types of land ownership pose.
The second panel explores the assessment of built heritage in conservation and redevelopment. It considers the imperatives of market forces, legal and bureaucratic systems, and the interests of diverse stakeholders that guide the management of heritage. Drawing on their experiences of heritage management, the speakers will offer insights on the value of assessment to policymakers, corporate organisations and civil society.
In partnership with Dakota-Cassia Adventures, we will end with a guided tour of Dakota Crescent and Cassia Crescent, which offers experiential insights to social impacts associated with conservation and resettlement. Participation in this tour is optional, and limited to 30 persons, on a first-come-first serve basis, at $35 per person payable directly to the tour provider. (The tour will take place from 1.30pm to 5.00pm, after the seminar. One-way transport from NUS to Dakota Crescent will be provided.)
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