Conservation Houses

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Conservation Houses

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In a city where technology and urbanization is the norm, it is still refreshing to see state and individual initiatives to preserve and promote culture and history. This is exactly what the Singaporean government and other concerned stakeholders are doing with their conservation houses or shop houses, sources of historical and cultural delight (and even nostalgia) for many Singaporean residents and visitors.

Conservation houses are not just found in Singapore, there are hundreds if not thousands of such conservation houses in Southeast Asia. The common element shared by these properties is the motivation to preserve their architecture and heritage.

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Showcasing Singaporean Heritage and Culture

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Conservation houses are those that are specially identified so as to retain their history and heritage. These are often small terraced properties, and will often feature a pedestrian way in front of the units. These properties serve not just as living quarters for residents but may be transformed into a commercial properties, particularly the first floor. Thus, such conservation houses are flexible Singaporean real estate properties that can be used for both to live in and to conduct business from.

These real estate properties were constructed from 1840s to 1960s, and have carried the prevalent urban and cultural fabric of those time periods. Conservation houses are available as two-, three- or even four-storey buildings, with built-in areas that range from 2,000 square feet to 6,000 square feet. Conservation houses will feature different designs and construction, depending on the owner or developer.

At their core, these real estate properties will feature high ceilings, wooden floors and beams. There are some conservation houses that will include courtyards which are often converted into dining areas. In premium conservation houses, sundecks are available on the second floor. The architectural and cultural elements are the things that help make these properties attractive for real estate buyers.

And because these properties are valuable to the community, these are often priced higher compared with other properties. Some of these properties can be rented in Singapore, and rent can range from S$4,000 to more than S$16,000 per month. The premium conservation houses can be found in Cairnhill and Emerald Hill, with some properties located in Chinatown, River Valley and Newton areas.

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Other Key Elements of Conservation Houses

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Conservation houses in Singapore share similar designs and style elements. All conservation houses feature wooden construction, particularly for its structural members. The properties make use of timber beams for primary and secondary beams. Wood is also the main material used for floors, windows and rafters.

These Singaporean houses will typically feature “The Five-Footway”, a sheltered passageway for pedestrians and guests. With this passageway, guests and pedestrians are protected from changing weather. This feature in conservation houses was included in the Town Plan for Singapore, as mandated by Raffles.

The roofing of the property is also another point of interest. This is often available in “pitched” construction, with timber structural support, laid in natural-looking V-profiled terracotta roofing tiles. For conservation houses constructed from 1900s, Marseilles tiles are used.

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NUS “BABA House” – Showcase of a Conservation House

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Singapore boasts dozens of conservation houses that help promote the culture and heritage of the city-state. One such conservation house that managed to gain recognition and attention is the NUS Baba conservation house once owned by a Straits-Chinese family, situated at 157 Neil Road. This can be considered a showcase property, and has been supported by the government in terms of renovation and conservation. The property is valuable not just to URA but also to the Singaporean community since this is one of the few houses that have been carefully restored and protected under local conservation laws.

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