The continuous story : interpretation and presentation of historical forts in Singapore
Abstract of dissertation entitled
The Continuous Story
Interpretation and Presentation of Historical Forts in Singapore
Chia Ing Ping
for the degree of
Master of Science in Conservation
University of Hong Kong
The Research The research began with exploring the interpretation and
presentation of two historical forts, Fort Canning and Fort Siloso, in Singapore.
The Find A dozen forts had been built historically; since the founding of
Singapore by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819 to the beginning of the 20th century.
The Revelation The historical fortifications were interconnected and inter-
related to each other strongly and intimately. They were elements of a comprehensive coastal defence system. The arc of fire of their guns covered each other to protect and guard the township.
Geographical matters The pattern of the town settlement can be read from the
locations of the forts. They mapped the outline, or the frontiers of the power, economics and residential centre of colonial Singapore. The forts were the cornerstones of the historic town.
More Geographical matters Clues to the natural geography and landscape of
early Singapore can be interpreted from the relationship between the forts and the land. Singapore's ancient landscape had altered beyond recognition. The forts might be one of the last physical evidence.
Power and Economics There were complex political issues and power
wrestling between the Imperial government and the Colonial government over the funding for the construction of the forts. It took more than a decade for any approval or funding, for the colony's fortification works, to arrive from the government for each phase of construction.
The Present Context Half of the forts succumbed to development pressures.
The remaining survived precariously between being packaged as a theme park to being forgotten and abandoned.
Heritage vs the Past What is heritage? Heritage is not a synonym of history,
or the past. Only when we consume the past by interpreting it, produce meanings and deduce values through its presentation, would we have 'heritage'. The intriguing process of interpreting, and presenting the past as heritage shall be explored in greater detail in the paper.
Circular and Continuous Heritage is time sensitive, for it is a perspective of the past, or the future, from a standpoint in the present. As the standpoint shifts, the process of interpreting and re-interpreting the past, presenting and re-presenting the heritage to suit a new set of conditions would begin. The process appears to be as much circular and continuous, for the starting point changes with each cycle. The story continues.
Heritage and Identity Heritage is not static and constant, but it is expressed
and presented through real and concrete objects. It is also a powerful tool to place one in time and in space, generating a sense of belonging and identity. The hypothesis is that heritage is a handy and effective instrument for the individual in the process of knowing and identifying himself/herself. The community would be formed when individuals identify with each other, based on common meanings and values. We shall be referring to 'national identity' when shared meanings and values of a community are placed in the context of a nation.
The use of heritage could be either profoundly inspiring, or simply practical.
School:The University of Hong Kong
School Location:China - Hong Kong SAR
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:historic buildings conservation and restoration singapore
Date of Publication:01/01/2002