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Thread: The past isn't always perfect- Sunday Times today

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    Default The past isn't always perfect- Sunday Times today

    "What's the point in clinging on to the past, especially the brick-and-mortar past?In fact, tearing down old buildings can be good for the soul"
    -The Sunday Times, Lifestyle page L12

    the article caught my eye because of my interest in the differing viewpoints I've heard from friends relating to this issue
    What do you guys think of this article?

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    Default Re: The past isn't always perfect- Sunday Times today

    any way i can view the news online? i have no access to ST here in Japan, ever since ST implemented online subscription i haven't read it online.

  3. #3

    Default Re: The past isn't always perfect- Sunday Times today

    heh heh too bad for copyright laws.
    Anyone want to post up the article? for the purposes of critical review and discussion of course. I'm sure that's acceptable

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    Default Re: The past isn't always perfect- Sunday Times today

    Well as the result of such a view point, even 'restoring' historic sections of our estate has often result in the 'loss' of culture. For example is clarke quay and the likes of china town..during my time I still remember it as a place where you could find charcoal sellers , joss stick makers and even a few people plying the singapore river with commodities.

    Now..look at it. It's simply a place for tourists, consumer goods and very cheap paint jobs. The character of the place is gone, the people are gone. Yes I know change marches on, but I feel we're losing our national identity without even bothering looking how to integrate with our need to progress.

    I happen to live in one of the few remaining areas somewhat untouched by this development, Joo chiat. However, more and more developers are enroaching into this untouched area. Already the humble coffeeshops are being replaced by franchises, and boutiques are popping up in the surrounding area.

    To the authorities, the place is getting 'preserved'. To me, it's just an empty shell.


    Soon, everything I remember from my childhood, esp fond memories of 9am half boiled eggs and kaya toast by the small coffeeshop by the drainside will be all gone in a matter of a few years, since my area is turning into a yuppie hide away. That's one reason why I tell my friends there's nothing left for me back home, cause nobody is bothering to preserve what I hold dear: my past.

    Already singapore is beginning more like an alien landscape than home..

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    Default Re: The past isn't always perfect- Sunday Times today

    anyone who has the news please pm or mail to me ( go.eikin@gmail.com ) thanks in advance

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    Default Re: The past isn't always perfect- Sunday Times today

    Quote Originally Posted by mattlock
    "What's the point in clinging on to the past, especially the brick-and-mortar past?In fact, tearing down old buildings can be good for the soul"
    -The Sunday Times, Lifestyle page L12

    the article caught my eye because of my interest in the differing viewpoints I've heard from friends relating to this issue
    What do you guys think of this article?
    Think of the article? Boring. Couldn't hold my interest and was painful to read till the end. I picked up the papers so just I could relate to what you were talking abt (yeah, darn free these days).

    As for the issue, I wonder what Sumiko means when she mentioned how the old had o go for the "greater good". Makes me wonder why URA even bothers to conserve old buildings. Every "tearing down" decided upon by the good people would have undergone sufficient deliberation to decide that it's for a "greater good" isn't it? So why not flush the conservation plan down the bowls?

    And Sumiko had most conveniently avoided the issue of the issue - heritage. That would be the answer to her question in the article.

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    Default Re: The past isn't always perfect- Sunday Times today

    when i first saw the thread title, actually i thought it's going to be an article talking about singapore's history textbooks, oh well ... national press ...

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    Senior Member redstone's Avatar
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    Default Re: The past isn't always perfect- Sunday Times today

    Just had a discussing with an architecture student and CSer here.

    I feel that conserving built heritage is a must.
    BUT what's 'inside', the soul of the building(s) or the area that is important. If not the building is just a dead shell with nothing. We should not let our heritage be destroyed by over commercialization. Like Chinatown, Boat/Clarke Quay as said, these areas had almost completely lost it's cultural charm. Other countries still very much retain it's charm over the years, but sadly due to land scarcity the heritage areas are loosing their heritage.

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    Default Re: The past isn't always perfect- Sunday Times today

    I wonder what the URA feels reading this.I think it'll be good to look to how other countries also take pains to preserve their old buildings.
    The building facades of most of the New York buildings have to be maintained by the landlords, and there are specific restrictions related to the use of buildings and zoning, which is troublesome but which allows for the preservation of a distinct new york feel and look (there's a reason why people recognise New York straight away in movies)
    The same goes to the "old buildings" in Europe. I wonder why people love the "old" architecture in Europe.

    I found this paragraph especially troubling as a form of justification:
    "I know many people have fond memories of the old red-brick library in Stamford Road, but it never did resonate with me."

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    Default Re: The past isn't always perfect- Sunday Times today

    Quote Originally Posted by redstone
    Just had a discussing with an architecture student and CSer here.

    I feel that conserving built heritage is a must.
    BUT what's 'inside', the soul of the building(s) or the area that is important. If not the building is just a dead shell with nothing. We should not let our heritage be destroyed by over commercialization. Like Chinatown, Boat/Clarke Quay as said, these areas had almost completely lost it's cultural charm. Other countries still very much retain it's charm over the years, but sadly due to land scarcity the heritage areas are loosing their heritage.
    Actually sydney is pretty much facing the same scenario now =/. The old wharf towns and ghettos have been turned into yuppie condos and yacht clubs now...Now what remains is only photographs.
    Last edited by Wisp; 27th August 2006 at 09:30 AM.

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    Senior Member redstone's Avatar
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    Default Re: The past isn't always perfect- Sunday Times today

    Quote Originally Posted by mattlock
    I wonder what the URA feels reading this.I think it'll be good to look to how other countries also take pains to preserve their old buildings.
    The building facades of most of the New York buildings have to be maintained by the landlords, and there are specific restrictions related to the use of buildings and zoning, which is troublesome but which allows for the preservation of a distinct new york feel and look (there's a reason why people recognise New York straight away in movies)
    The same goes to the "old buildings" in Europe. I wonder why people love the "old" architecture in Europe.

    I found this paragraph especially troubling as a form of justification:
    "I know many people have fond memories of the old red-brick library in Stamford Road, but it never did resonate with me."

    Commerialization. Sadly everything. It's sad. Owners do not take pride in their buildings enough. The owner should suit the new building. The new use should suit the old building, not the other way round. Like Fullerton Hotel. The whole building's interior been gutted and completely rebuilt (except for a room). It's just an empty shell.

    Large areas had been gone. The present site of Parkview Square used to be a big shophouse area, I still remember. But all had been cleared. Entire neighbourhoods demolished.

  12. #12

    Default Re: The past isn't always perfect- Sunday Times today

    I was also quite amused at how the article seemed to veer off-topic towards the end
    The article states that "But what if tearing down a place or a building is really for the so-called greater good?"
    and then later off ends off with glowing mentions the Old Parliament House, and Rochester Park, which ironically are showcases of conservation, and not of the good of "tearing down a place"

    but yes conservation is tricky and keeping the shells alone don't mean anything, but new meanings can be created while retaining memories of the past in these shells. but chinatown and boat quay are terrible examples.hahaha.

  13. #13

    Default Re: The past isn't always perfect- Sunday Times today

    Quote Originally Posted by redstone
    Just had a discussing with an architecture student and CSer here.

    I feel that conserving built heritage is a must.
    BUT what's 'inside', the soul of the building(s) or the area that is important. If not the building is just a dead shell with nothing. We should not let our heritage be destroyed by over commercialization. Like Chinatown, Boat/Clarke Quay as said, these areas had almost completely lost it's cultural charm. Other countries still very much retain it's charm over the years, but sadly due to land scarcity the heritage areas are loosing their heritage.
    Heritage refers to any immaterial, intangible possessions handed down by the ancestors so that the future generations had a piece of the past, a reminder of history. Conservation of the facade is insufficient, no doubt. But we're not just talking about total conservation, which only exists in the ideal world. Countries who could retain the "cultural charm" could afford to do so as they had other areas with less charm to tear down to make way for the "greater good". It's more than making an effort we're talking about. It's the severe scarcity of land which still doesn't seem to sink in the minds of the people.

    Conservation of the facade is hardly enough, I totally agree. But it beats the destruction of the building altogether. And such an article, coming from someone whom I respect for the writing, betrays the hidden weariness of "clinging on" to something of value, of importance, because the price to pay had turned into a burden.

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    Senior Member Sion's Avatar
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    Default Re: The past isn't always perfect- Sunday Times today

    Quote Originally Posted by Wisp
    Actually sydney is pretty much facing the same scenario now =/. The old wharf towns and ghettos have been turned into yuppie condos and yacht clubs now...Now what remains is only photographs.
    "You wouldn't be able to preserve the past. But you could modify the past in the context of modernity and progress." - Bob Carr. :-)

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    Default Re: The past isn't always perfect- Sunday Times today

    'Reification' is a fact of late capitalism, it's how creatively it's done that matters to me more. i don't blame consumerism, i blame those who chose the consumerist approach despite having alternatives available.

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    Default Re: The past isn't always perfect- Sunday Times today

    Quote Originally Posted by redstone
    Commerialization. Sadly everything. It's sad. Owners do not take pride in their buildings enough. The owner should suit the new building. The new use should suit the old building, not the other way round. Like Fullerton Hotel. The whole building's interior been gutted and completely rebuilt (except for a room). It's just an empty shell.

    Large areas had been gone. The present site of Parkview Square used to be a big shophouse area, I still remember. But all had been cleared. Entire neighbourhoods demolished.
    I'm actually very fond of the Fullerton Hotel.I've stayed there a few times and there's a strong sense of the spirit of history in there.
    I think it's hard to preserve the original usage of the building with new tenants. but new meaning can be added to old buildings. just went for a street party at Haji Lane yesterday. that area is popping up with designers and boutiques, it is refreshing to see people use these old places for new purposes and revitalise the areas, while interacting with original tenants such as the prata shops and fabric stores.

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    Default Re: The past isn't always perfect- Sunday Times today

    Quote Originally Posted by Sion
    "You wouldn't be able to preserve the past. But you could modify the past in the context of modernity and progress." - Bob Carr. :-)
    I agree...but all those houses and bars had been bulldozed down. I think there are only 2-3 areas that retained their original architecture (in CBD sydney) , but as said, they've been filled mostly with boutiques and restaurants now...

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    Default Re: The past isn't always perfect- Sunday Times today

    Quote Originally Posted by shinken
    Conservation of the facade is hardly enough, I totally agree. But it beats the destruction of the building altogether. And such an article, coming from someone whom I respect for the writing, betrays the hidden weariness of "clinging on" to something of value, of importance, because the price to pay had turned into a burden.
    That's a good point, but it's quite singaporean a mentality in the way that sentimentality and emotional attachment is pointless, and if something is inefficient then create something new to replace it
    A sort of "if the grandmother is too much hassle to take care of let's put her in an old age home and let someone else take care of her" approach to issues

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    Senior Member redstone's Avatar
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    Default Re: The past isn't always perfect- Sunday Times today

    Chinatown is culturally dead. The shophouses taken over by modern establishment. One would expect to see traditional trades in these areas, but sadly no.

    Commercialization and redevelopment is a must but, not enough preservation is being done here. Both physically and culturally. I can't justify the preservation of Changi Prison and Cathay Building. Both are wall conservation. Changi Prison, such a great heritage site and govt isn't doing anything and state cost as a reason not to modernise the prison or demolish the newer Tanah Merah Prison (10+ years old). And for Cathay, nothing but a dead wall. The era of grand cinemas and film watching had gone with the closing of Capitol Theatre.

    Saddening

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    Default Re: The past isn't always perfect- Sunday Times today

    for anyone interested, you can find out more about conservation guidelines on http://www.ura.gov.sg/

    hey, no one has the article to send over?

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