Restored Teochew temple garners Unesco award

Restored Teochew temple garners Unesco award
The Yueh Hai Ching temple, Singapore's oldest Teochew temple on Phillip Street, is to reopen at the end of March 2014 after its $7.5 million makeover.

A $7.5 million, five-year makeover of the Yueh Hai Ching temple - which included two years on research alone - has earned the team behind it a 2014 Unesco Asia-Pacific Heritage Award.

The Phillip Street temple, which can trace its roots back to 1826, picked up an award of merit alongside four other historic sites in the region, such as India's Shri Sakhargad Niwasini Devi Temple Complex.

Lucky Shophouse, a residential home in Joo Chiat that was formerly Lucky Bookstore, was also awarded the Unesco jury commendation for innovation.

The Unesco panel - comprising international conservation experts - noted that the shophouse project, transformed by Chang Architects, played up historic textures and colours while celebrating functionalism inherent in early 21st century design.

The awards programme recognises the efforts of private individuals and organisations that have successfully restored and conserved structures and buildings of heritage value in the region.

The panel met in June to review 46 entries.

Chairman of the Yueh Hai Ching temple's restoration sub-committee, Mr Jamie Teo, said that the award will please worshippers while helping to attract even more tourists to the historic temple.

Bankrolled by the temple's custodian, Ngee Ann Kongsi, a Teochew social welfare organisation, the project sought to restore the dilapidated temple to its original form.

Unesco noted that the temple, which has the highest density of craft and ornamentation works of any temple in Singapore, had been "methodically and meticulously conserved".

Architectural conservator Yeo Kang Shua, who led the project, said the award is an "affirmation of the effort we put into the restoration of the temple".

There are fewer than 10 buildings here that can boast of such a title.

The assistant professor at the Singapore University of Technology and Design said: "The standards of conservation have become higher over the years and it's increasingly difficult to win an award from Unesco. So this recognition is testament that our approach is correct."

This article was published on Sept 3 in The Straits Times.

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