Temple bags restoration award with gleam of spit and polish

Temple bags restoration award with gleam of spit and polish
Craftsmen from China used their saliva - a traditional technique - to clean the gold leaf on wood carvings at the century-old Hong San See Temple, in a four-year, $3 million restoration.

To restore the gleam of the gold leaf which features heavily in decorative wood carvings at the century-old Hong San See Temple in River Valley, a team of craftsmen from China used their saliva - a traditional restoration technique used by artisans to remove dust.

This was part of an extensive four-year, $3 million programme by the temple to restore the crumbling national monument at 30 Mohamed Sultan Road to mint condition.

The temple, where Hokkiens from southern Fujian have met and worshipped since the early 20th century, was one of five winners of the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) Architectural Heritage Awards at a presentation ceremony held at the temple yesterday evening.

"We are glad the effort paid off. We did this so future generations will be able to enjoy it in its full glory," said Mr Tan Aik Hock, chairman of the Singapore Lam Ann Association that maintains the temple.

The restoration also won an excellence award from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, or Unesco, in 2010.

The URA's annual awards honour owners, architects, engineers and contractors for conservation excellence in two categories: first, national monuments and fully conserved buildings, and second, integrated old and new conservation developments. This year's other winners were in the second category.

They were the Frank Brewer bungalow at 5 Chatsworth Park, two 1940s and 1950s North Canal Road conserved shophouse units, a 1920s Transitional-style shophouse residential development at 125 Joo Chiat Place, and a series of eight shophouse units built in the early 1900s at Lorong 24A Geylang.

A total of 117 projects have received the awards since their launch in 1995.

There is no prize money.

Acting Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin, who presented the awards, said home owners and residents act as custodians of the conserved properties entrusted to their care.

"They are the visionaries who ensure that the buildings' characters are upheld even as they are adapted to meet modern needs," he said.


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