Friday, 15 August 2014

Queenstown rolls out heritage plan

5-year blueprint includes $2m museum to connect the present with the past
By Melody Zaccheus, The Straits Times, 14 Aug 2014

QUEENSTOWN has unveiled a five-year plan to protect its heritage, becoming the first estate here to clearly outline its preservation efforts.

The plan will seek to not only conserve sites in Singapore's first satellite estate, but also connect the present with the past with a $2 million museum by 2020 and a festival once every two years.

A highlight of its ambition is a network of galleries, heritage corners and markers to be rolled out across various parts of Queenstown by next year.

The blueprint by civic group My Community and Queenstown Citizens Consultative Committee maps out tangible goals even as different pockets of the 61-year- old estate undergo development.

My Community founder Kwek Li Yong, who has been championing the estate's heritage, said: "It incorporates feedback from residents on what they feel is important to conserve. Rather than just ride the wave of nostalgia, we worked out concrete plans for the neighbourhood."

These include the construction of 11 galleries displaying residents' old photographs across void decks, walkways and public institutions, and the installation of 38 site markers highlighting historic places and buildings.

The six Queenstown neighbourhoods will also have areas carved out to pay homage to the precincts' rich history. These heritage corners will feature interactive spaces with photographs, artefacts, 3D displays and stories from residents. These will brighten up the half a dozen neighbourhoods including Commonwealth, Tanglin Halt, Princess, Duchess, Mei Ling and Queen's Close.

Each area is distinct, said Mr Kwek. "There's the industrial heritage of Tanglin Halt, the Hakka tombstones of Commonwealth, the military camps of Princess estate, the old town centre of Duchess estate and the Malayan Railway which used to run through Queen's Close," he said. He also gave the example of Block 145, Mei Ling Street which will have a kampung-themed exhibition that pays tribute to its early years as the site of Boh Beh Kang village.

Speaking at the blueprint's launch yesterday, Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Chia Shi-Lu said the aim is for Queenstown to become a centre for community heritage which people can visit to "relive their memories... and understand how different social institutions have evolved".

It is also part of the estate's bid for the National Heritage Board's Heritage Town Award 2014.

Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing, who was guest of honour at the launch, said balancing redevelopment and heritage will continue to be a top priority. "If we can do this well in Queenstown, it will be a testimony to how we can do things on a larger scale in Singapore, balancing conservation and development at the same time."

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