Conservation Consternation


Conservation in Singapore can be a bit of a joke. For example: there used to be a magnificent old house along Amber Road (pictured above) – described as ” ‘The Butterfly House’, a Victorian-style bungalow built by Regent Alfred John Bidwell almost a century ago in 1912″. It was given Conservation Status on 3rd Sept 2007. So when condo developers bought over the site (The Aristo), they had to preserve the building – but they did so by sticking only to the letter of the law, churning out the monstrosity below:


When I first saw the plans for the condo, I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry, it seemed so blatant an attempt to give the finger to the building’s Heritage status…. So seeing this sign outside the old Joo Chiat police HQ:



… is rather worrying. Whilst the building itself will be conserved, as highlighted in the URA sale site (LINK) , there’s no guarantee it won’t turn into another rubbish site like the Aristo.

Another old building along East Coast road suffered a similar poor fate, stuck now behind the walls of the SIlversea condo.

Can anything be done to guarantee the integrity of the Joo Chiat Police HQ ? Anyone interested may wish to contact the Heritage Society



  1. I used to live on Amber Rd but didn’t know the history of that house. Thanks. It’s just appalling to know how it will be “preserved”. I’m still reeling over the “Invest in Heritage” slogan for the Red House condo development. It adds insult to injury.

    Thanks for this post.

    1. You should see the bigger joke that is the Matilda House in Punggol. Judging by how the construction around it was done, they might as well demolish the whole structure and rebuilt it.

  2. Same thing happened to matilda house in punggol. It was supposed to be conserved, but from what I saw, the whole building was almost completely torn down and build up from scratch. What a joke. I stay at punngol sapphire btw and witnessed the demolition.

  3. As a true blue Singaporean, whenever you see any empty piece of field, the next movement, it will be turned into either a condo or shopping mall. Hence very soon, we only see concrete walls and loads of people; no more greenery in this tiny island 😦 .

    So you think they are bothered to preserve old buildings etc., there is already insufficient breathing space for its people…

  4. Hi hi, Sonny

    You wrote an article regarding conservation consternation (world press in September 2013) and the butterfly house was mentioned in your article.  Which is now named as Aristo @ Amber.  

    The condo has TOP in last Oct . Keen to write a follow up article on the butterfly house ? How the house is conserved and developed into?  

    The developer didn’t manage to conserve much of the house and cant even restore the house to good condition. Landscaping around the house is bad and water fall feature which is a highlight behind the conversation house was not built.

    I am one of the unit owner of Aristo .

    Hope to hear from you soon.

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