- Bridging Positivist and Relativist Approaches in Recent Community-Managed Architectural Conservation Projects in Singapore
- Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia
- ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute
- Volume 33, Number 3, November 2018
- pp. 647-676
- View Citation
- Additional Information
Over the course of the past decade, architectural conservation in Singapore has moved beyond the prevailing "3R Principle" of "Maximum Retention, Sensitive Restoration and Careful Repair" formulated by the Urban Redevelopment Authority in the 1980s towards a more nuanced understanding of conservation. The former principle was grounded in a positivist construction of historical "truth" that is substantiated by the historic fabric of a building. It grew out of an intellectual tradition set out in conservation charters dating from the period between the 1870s and the 1960s. Since the 1970s, however, postmodern relativism has increasingly influenced the heritage field worldwide. Recent conventions advocate a more fluid understanding of authenticity that takes local cultural contexts into account. In Singapore, this shift has become evident in recent institutional projects, particularly in the conservation and restoration of religious buildings. Recent community-owned architectural conservation projects suggest the reasons for this shift.