School of Creative


BA(Hons) Arts Management

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Why conserve built heritage? A study on Singapore’s heritage conservation process and public participation

With the advancement of Singapore, old buildings that are key figures to the country's history and heritage are being torn down in the path of redevelopment. The purpose of this paper is to assess the differing level of public participation, power of each major stakeholder, as well as considerations made for the protection of the intangible aspects of heritage such as spirit of place, amidst the conservation process. This study is done through a case study on the recent heritage conservation cases of the Pearl Bank Apartments and Golden Mile Complex. Empirical data obtained from major stakeholder groups, residents, the government, developers and civil society organisations are gathered for an analysis against Arnstein Sherry's 'A Ladder of Public Participation' to measure the public's level of citizen power. It is shown that members of the public bear only tokenistic power in influencing the outcome of conservation results, and there is a lack of transparent process and appropriate platforms that meaningfully engage all stakeholders to ensure holistic heritage conservation that considers the intangible aspects in addition to the physical fabric of the building. It is proposed that Singapore should develop a supportive legal framework that incorporates public participation at a higher level and involves members of the public at the decision-making level.

Keywords: heritage conservation, architectural conservation, spirit of place, public participation

Subtopics: values of heritage, preservation of spirit of place, public participation in heritage conservation process

Ng Xin Pei

Ng Xin Pei

Xin Pei is graduating with a BA(Hons) Arts Management from LASALLE College of the Arts. Having obtained a Diploma in Animation, she always had a keen interest in the arts and media. Her work at the Visual Arts Centre as a management trainee has made her adept at multitasking and efficient communication with different stakeholders. She has worked with different parties for various media projects such as Thomson Community Club's refurbishment, the Urban Redevelopment Authority's Project Rediscover as well as The Rangoli Movement, a project supported by the Singapore Land Authority and National Arts Council. She currently aspires to pursue a career in marketing and project management while continuously expanding her skills and knowledge. In her free time, she enjoys painting as a form of relaxation and creative expression.

Work experience

2021 – present
Visual Arts Centre
Management trainee