Petition for 23 Amber Road

Letter written to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of National Development (MND) regarding 23 Amber Road, triggered by a tour at Katong conducted by the Historic Architecture Rescue Plan (HARP). What surprised me was that Mr Heng Whoo Kiat, the head of Strategic Planning replied me and thanked me for my “passionate representation” and asked to meet me personally to hear my views. I was very surprised because I thought my letter was just one amongst many and I did not even know if it would be taken seriously. But my feedback was received and considered. This really changed my view of the government.

katong tour with harp 018

The Permanent Secretary
Ministry of National Development
Maxwell Road
Singapore 069110

Dear Sir,

Re: Proposed Amendment 37/07 to Master Plan – 23 Amber Road

I am writing in response to the partial conservation of the 23 Amber Road house. I have been following the news about it and recently read an excellent article in the Review of Straits Times by the Singapore Heritage Society on the 28th of June, Thursday about it.

I have been hesitant to send this email as I wanted to seek out all possible solutions first before I suggest anything to you. I have been consulting my university friends who are studying Architecture and Civil Engineering, asking for suggestions on how the proposed conservation of having a new building stacked onto part of the old one appealed to them and how such conservation efforts can better take place. As I really hope instead of just asking that the house be kept in totality, I could suggest something helpful as well.

However, it seems pretty tough, whether to try to build pillars to lift the new building off the ground, such that the house can be kept untouched, or to continue in the proposed plan to build a tall, unrelated building on the most insignificant part of the house, the front porch. The former is not very feasible technically speaking due to the need for a deep foundation for a tall building. And the latter gives the impression of a man wearing tuxedo with pyjamas pants or a jet plane being built onto a BMW. It’s very disproportionate, disintegrated and even clashing, as it is unable to bring out the beauty of either the new or the old parts of the structure. Yet, I really understand and appreciate your department’s heart of wanting to come up with a compromise to satisfy both the developer and the heritage lovers.

Therefore, when I read the article in the newspaper, I was very pleased with the suggestions that they gave. As their point of view, is very similar to mine. I’m hoping, you might consider what they suggested. They suggested a “floor area ratio substitution or even property swop.” I wonder if it it something possible for 23 Amber Road.

I recently went to the house to have a look. It’s really beautiful and very majestic, one of the last few seaside houses from the early century still remaining. It too has architecture value that I’m sure you are very aware of. It sounds really cliche, but I really do hope, that it can be somewhere I can bring my kids to in the future when I start a family. It would really be a shame to read about a very interesting house, wanting to find it, but realising it has been demolished, especially one of such beauty and architectural merit and wondering why nobody did anything to save it.

Thank you very much for your time.

Yours faithfully,

Chua Shuyi

2/7/2007

I took this from bus 36 on 20/6/2010

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