*Produced by SilverKris for Heritage Collection*
Conservation and adaptive reuse have been perennial buzzwords in Singapore’s urban-planning discourse. They entered common usage in recent years, thanks to big-scale public projects such as Victoria Theatre and National Gallery Singapore, involving big-name designers and architects. But the adaptive reuse of the city’s hundreds of smaller buildings and shophouses, though flying under the radar, is just as noteworthy and far more prevalent.
And now, with the arrival of our newest buzzword – staycation – Singaporean residents have a chance to appreciate these shophouses while being tourists in their hometown. Heritage Collection is a homegrown hospitality brand founded in 2011 with the aim to “marry the concepts of enterprise and conservation to deliver a unique experience that stands out from mainstream hotels,” says a spokesperson for the company.
To create its remarkable portfolio of properties, the team at Heritage Collection collaborated with landlords in Chinatown, Boat Quay, Tanjong Pagar, City Hall and Clarke Quay to create comfortable shophouse apartments by refurbishing history-soaked spaces and adding modern conveniences. The results are one-of-a-kind stays where local guests can reconnect with their heritage and visitors can appreciate Singaporean culture. Moreover, updating heritage buildings with new fittings, in a bid to make them more relevant and sustainable, ensures their survival for future generations.
One of the company’s notable properties is Heritage Collection on Seah, nestled in a quaint corner along Seah Street. Built during colonial times, these shophouses once housed members of the Hainanese community. Individual units are equipped with kitchenettes and access to shared washer dryers, while the old architectural features allow for interesting, non-conventional layouts. The buildings’ ornate façades, featuring timber-framed, casement-style windows, are ideal for photo-ops.
The heritage experience continues beyond the property, with Singapore’s vibrant Downtown Core a stone’s throw away. Guests can walk to cultural hotspots, including MINT Museum of Toys, dedicated to vintage collectibles and playthings; National Gallery Singapore, housing the largest collection of Southeast Asian art in the world; Art Deco gem Capitol Theatre, with a striking sign originally built in the late 1920s; and CHIJMES, which features an ornately designed Gothic chapel.
Heritage Collection’s other properties around Singapore also offer a similar experience, boasting façades that evoke the nostalgia of the 1930s and 1940s, and interiors informed by contemporary design elements and modern amenities.
The brand has even expanded into New York with a portfolio that covers the East Village, SoHo, Chelsea and the Grand Central area, among other neighbourhoods.
While the ongoing pandemic has disrupted travel plans, there’s a renewed interest among Singapore residents to both take a break from their daily routines and rediscover the city they call home. A stay in a refurbished heritage shophouse ticks both those boxes, as well as enables guests “to appreciate the present continuities as extensions of our historical past”.