Saturday, April 28, 2012

Singapore: Adaptive reuse of heritage buildings along Jalan Besar

Jalan Besar is a street in Singapore that has been gazetted as a conservation area. I actually enjoyed walking along Jalan Basar from my hostel along Lavender Street, admiring the old but colorfully-painted buildings that have been adaptively reused for modern needs.

Here are some photos from Jalan Besar showing the many things you can do with a heritage building. As can be seen from the photos, old buildings need not be torn down to be economically viable. Despite the scarcity of land in Singapore, they have strong heritage conservation rules, especially since their preserved ethnic neighborhoods bring in the tourists.

Many of the buildings have restaurants, hawker stalls or even KTVs and night clubs.

I noticed there were also many hardware stores, stores that specialize in home fixtures and interior design including lighting and paint shops. One even had an Internet shop.

Regardless of what businesses are there today, the important thing is that these buildings will continue to survive because of strong heritage laws in Singapore and the new lease to life these new enterprises have brought to these buildings. And note that this is just one street. Singapore has many conservation areas. Those in Manila who say land is too expensive for heritage conservation should make a trip to land-scarce Singapore and see how its done.

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