When it comes to conservation, it's not always about grand buildings. Even understated, simple structures have an intrinsic value that's worth preserving for posterity.
Iconic new buildings that very often push the design envelope aren't the only structures that give a city its unique character. In Singapore for instance, there are a number of heritage buildings and structures that also bestow a distinctive identity and add a touch of soul to our urban environment, making it more meaningful and attractive. Some of these structures may have been born out of commercial or social reasons but have since transcended these purposes to become endearing testaments that bear deep historical, cultural and emotional value.
A key aspect of our city's urban planning strategy involves the conservation of buildings and structures which have historical and architectural significance; display rarity in terms of type and styles; and their contribution to the overall environment.
In "layman speak", these structures may be important to us in an unconscious way. Many of us (or even our parents) may have spent happy hours with family or friends visiting or picnicking, or even enjoyed quiet moments camped out near these structures. Still others hold romantic memories of dates or of happy moments taking graduation and wedding photos.
Going Places profiles some of these conserved structures in Singapore which continue to be important to our historical and cultural landscape.
Bandstand, Singapore Botanic Gardens
Erected in the 1860s, the Bandstand has long been a site for evening musical performances by military bands. Though no longer used for music, it is still one of the best-known features of the Gardens. Aside from its musical heritage, many couples have also recognised its romantic charm amid the Garden's lush expanse of green, and the Bandstand has been both witness and host to many wedding solemnisations and photography shoots.
A parent whom we informally interviewed told us that back in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, couples flocked there for their wedding photography sessions because the Bandstand was considered very "English" and they enjoyed pretending that they had garden weddings just like the English.
Lookout Tower, Toa Payoh Town Park
Built in 1972 and standing 25 metres tall in the middle of
Toa Payoh Town Park, the Lookout Tower has grown to be an endearing landmark, not only in Toa Payoh's physical landscape, but fondly in the memories of residents. It is a landmark that many people identify with as being synonymous with the estate and has been a popular wedding photography site for as long as we can remember. The tower's gaining of conservation status in 2009 is truly a testament to its historical, aesthetic, emotional and social value to the town and its residents.
Our editorial team member Serene recalls: "This was the first place my parents brought me to take photos with our first camera. I was about five years old then. Back in the 70s, buying a camera was a big deal and the Lookout Tower at Toa Payoh Town Park was just about the nicest spot in the area".
Water Intake Tower and Bridge at MacRitchie Reservoir
Formerly known as the Impounding Reservoir, the
MacRitchie Reservoir is the oldest reservoir in Singapore. It was designed by John Turnbull Thomson and built in 1868. In 1922, the Impounding Reservoir was renamed after James MacRitchie, a municipal engineer who oversaw its construction. The Water Intake Tower and Bridge is a late 19th Century engineering project that demonstrates the technological process and construction methods of the time. The bandstand with its distinctive roof and the zig-zag bridge are latter-day additions. The structures were given conservation status in December 2009 as part of the Urban Redevelopment Authority's conservation programme. We recall lovely memories attending the sporting events at the Reservoir Park as school children and teachers yelling at us not to climb over the bridge and fall into the water.