Padang, surrounding civic architecture identified as potential candidate for Singapore’s next UNESCO World Heritage Site

The site was chosen as it stands a good chance of meeting the World Heritage criteria.

Justin Hui

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Published: 10 March 2023, 6:05 PM

The Padang and its surrounding civic architecture have been added to Singapore’s Tentative List for UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 

The area, named the Padang Civic Ensemble, was identified by the National Heritage Board (NHB) as the “best possible option” for Singapore’s second nomination into the UNESCO World Heritage Site list, announced the National Heritage Board (NHB) in a press release on Thursday (Mar 9).

The first was the Singapore Botanic Gardens. It was successfully inscribed into the list in 2015. 

As a British colonial civic square in the tropics, NHB said it stands a good chance of meeting the World Heritage criteria of being “an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history”.

“The coalescence of colonial-era and post-independence civic institutions within a single municipal area bears testament to the historically widespread phenomenon of decolonisation and the globally significant transition of long-held British territories to newly independent nations in the decades following World War II,” said NHB.

Besides its high potential to meet the World Heritage criteria, The Padang Civic Ensemble bears national and historical significance. 

It has a high level of preservation, having been gazetted as a National Monument on Aug 9, 2022, and the adjacent buildings have strong historical significance. 

These include the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, the Former Supreme Court and City Hall (now the National Gallery Singapore), the Former Parliament House and Annex Building (now the Arts House) and various other National Monuments.

NHB said that adding The Padang Civic Ensemble to Singapore’s Tentative List for UNESCO World Heritage Sites is a necessary step for participation in the preliminary assessment. The Tentative List submission is the first step in the potential nomination of an UNESCO World Heritage Site in the future.

This new mechanism in the UNESCO World Heritage Site process allows countries to receive guidance from the World Heritage Centre and two international advisory bodies before submitting an official nomination. 

NHB will also conduct further research to determine potential implications on the site and surrounding developments. The research will assess the benefits and implications of the proposed nomination, and the exact timeline needed for a full-scale nomination to the World Heritage list. 

The outcome of NHB’s research, as well as the results of the preliminary assessment, will help guide whether Singapore will formally pursue the nomination at a later stage.

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