d+a | Issue 116 • Jun/July 2020

/ FEATURE / 12 THE ARCHITECTURAL COMMUNITY WEIGHS IN ON THIS TOPIC AND IDENTIFIES THE OBSTACLES THAT STAND IN THE WAY. CONSERVING SINGAPORE’S MODERN BUILT HERITAGE spirit” in its nation-building years. “These are the tangible legacy of the visionary leadership of local politicians, planners, developers and architects who created a vast new landscape during 1965 to 1975,” says Ho Weng Hin, one of the three founding members of the Docomomo-Sg Working Group-In-Progress and Founding Partner of Studio Lapis. For example, the Pearl Bank Apartments, designed by architect Tan Cheng Siong, became an important prototype for high-rise, high-density urban living that embodied the pioneering spirit and innovation of that era. While it still stood, it was studied and feted by architects, planners, urbanists, architectural historians and heritage enthusiasts both as an elegant solution to L et us be honest: Modernist buildings are not the easiest to love. Abstract, hard-edged, unornamented and often composed of solid, simple walls of reinforced concrete, they are the antithesis of conventional definitions of beautiful architecture. In Singapore, they are everywhere, since the country underwent rapid urbanisation when the modern tradition was in vogue, loosely defined as from the 1950s to the 1980s. It naturally begs the question of why they are special and worth saving – in short, what exactly is the fuss? ARCHITECTS STATE THEIR CASE Perhaps the most compelling argument is that they are symbols of Singapore’s “can-do WORDS LOW SHI PING / PHOTOGRAPHY JEREMY SAN, SHS COLLECTION This is the first feature in a year-long series where we spotlight the conservation of Singapore’s modern built heritage across six different themes. Visit the d+a website for complementary stories on this important issue. EDITOR’S NOTE 1