Singapore identifies Padang, surrounding architecture as potential candidate for UNESCO World Heritage Site

Singapore identifies Padang, surrounding architecture as potential candidate for UNESCO World Heritage Site

SINGAPORE: Singapore has identified the Padang and its surrounding architecture as a potential candidate for Singapore’s next UNESCO World Heritage Site, the National Heritage Board (NHB) announced on Thursday (Mar 9).

Named The Padang Civic Ensemble, the site was chosen as it is considered most likely to fill the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) criterion 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”.

“This is because The Padang Civic Ensemble is an outstanding example of a British colonial civic square in the tropics,” NHB said in a media release.

“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.”

The Padang already has a high level of preservation, having been gazetted as a national monument on Aug 9, 2022, added NHB.

Adjacent buildings such as 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 other national monuments are similarly of high historical significance, it said.

The latest move means that The Padang Civic Ensemble has been added to Singapore’s Tentative List for UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

This is a necessary step for participation in the preliminary assessment – a new mechanism in the UNESCO World Heritage Site process, said NHB.

Under the preliminary assessment, countries will receive guidance from the World Heritage Centre and two international advisory bodies prior to the submission of a full-scale nomination. If the site is nominated and subsequently inscribed, this entire process could take five to six years.

In addition to the preliminary assessment, NHB said it will carry out further research this year to determine potential implications on the site and surrounding developments. This will help to guide the decision at a later stage on whether Singapore will formally pursue the nomination.

“This is an important step as Singapore will have to carefully study and balance long-term urban redevelopment needs with the protection requirements of a World Heritage Site,” said NHB.