Plan to Demolish Historic Ellison Building

Making way for North-South Corridor


The Land Transport Authority (LTA) will have a conversation specialist to guide on how to reduce the effect of the future tunnel works on Ellison Building. Authorities said in August that one of the nine units of the building will be broken down to make some space for upcoming North-South Corridor. It is a 21.5 km expressway. They also said that the building’s torn down corner comprises of house numbers 235, 237 and 239. It will be re-constructed after the tunnel is completed in 2026.

The plan was in place regardless of the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) gazettes of the building at the junction of Rochor Canal Road and Selegie Road. Romanian Jew Isaac Ellison built that. It is popular because of its cupolas and the Star of David on the façade.


The news invited heritage lovers to show concern and appeal to the authorities to review their plan.
URA and LTA told yesterday that final plans will be made after conservation specialist’s report and discussions with heritage groups are completed.


Some observers found this as a turnaround. Both the agencies had said it was impossible to completely avoid the building as a part of it lies along the corridor alignment. But LTA said the intention to consult a conservation expert was already on the plan. The LTA and URA said that they met heritage experts several times this month to take their opinion on feasible measure to protect Ellison Building during the process of construction.


International Council on Monuments and Sites (Icomos), the Singapore Institute of Architects and a heritage blogger attended these sessions. Some experts said that first decision disregarded the historical value of the building. They asked authorities to look into all possible ways.


Experts told ST that they recommended various other options at the first session. They include propping the building up and strengthening the base while the corridor is constructed. They asked to give underpinning support for the structure while the work is underway. It will retain and reinforce the second floor.


Some of them suggested that they think there may be hope for the historical building. They realized that appointing an expert and independent heritage conservation specialist will help offer some practical solution to retain the building. It will save it from partial tearing down. Icomos Singapore President, Kevin Tan, stated that they had a useful meeting with the authorities. They are now exploring more available options. Nominated MP, Kok Heng Leun, asked the authorities to consult earlier before making final decisions. He noted that the round corner of the building and its cupolas have prominent features. The building marked the limits of Singapore municipality. He also said the talks must start earlier. It should be as upstream as it possibly can be.


In fact, preserving historical heritage is important and there are ways to avoid their demolition to construct new structures and roads around. Experts must suggest feasible alternatives where the building stays in shape. Every country is conscious of its history and monuments because they reflect the taste and lifestyle of their ancestors.






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