HARP

The previous entry on 23 Amber Road needs to be augmented with information about HARP – I’ve taken this extract from Irene Low’s site, where the full FAQ can be found

What is HARP?
The Historic Architecture Rescue Plan is an interest group which was formed after the sudden and unnecessary demolition of a 1930s Art-deco building at Allenby Road which formerly housed the film archives of a local film maker. HARP members are known as Rescuers and all Rescuers believe there is a need to create an increased awareness of noteworthy buildings which may be in danger of demolition and deserve conservation.

To sign up, send an email to harp_rescue@yahoo.com

What does HARP aim to achieve?

HARP’s long term goal is to foster an environment where owners of heritage properties are aware of the social responsibility they shoulder as proprietors of such unique properties and will voluntarily come forward to offer to put their buildings on the URA’s conservation list. Through the collective effort of HARP Rescuers, HARP hopes to persuade owners of old buildings that conservation should not be viewed as a hindrance but as a way to build and design creatively.

Isn’t this what the URA is doing?

The URA has done well in managing to gazette more than 6000 individual properties as heritage properties but many more buildings which possess significant historical / architectural merit continue to be in danger of demolition due to soaring land prices.

Surprisingly not all properties inside “historic districts” such as Geylang, Katong or Jalan Besar are protected from demolition. Because the URA believes in striking a balance between sentiment and financial prudence, it does not require everything within a historic enclave to be preserved. Most conserved properties are those which line the main roads while buildings in the inner areas are often not conferred conservation status.

Click on the links below to see the areas which are conserved and those which have been left out.

 

www.ura.gov.sg/conservation/balestier.htm

www.ura.gov.sg/conservation/gey.htm

More examples may be found at www.ura.gov.sg

Click on “Conservation of built heritage” at the bottom left and further click “Areas and Maps”

Is HARP just living in the past and being unrealistic?

Singapore’s stock of colonial era buildings is finite and dwindling. By this we do not just mean shophouses but rather a whole gamut of buildings ranging from hospitals, factories, schools, warehouses, fire stations and even humble residential house (like the traditional Malay house on stilts that can still be found in the Joo Chiat area). These all have great historic and social significance and are just as part of the “Singapore Story” as the Padang or Fullerton Building.

Isn’t it also interesting to observe that newly industrialising states like China are feverishly building faux-Baroque towns or rebuilding exact replicas of former colonial era buildings in Shanghai while owners in Singapore are razing their old properties? Why is Singapore throwing away her treasured heirlooms?

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