Sustainability in Realtion to a Sense of Place

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Moving on to the views of what is the term “sense of place” in sustainability, ‘The notion of place in the construction of History, Nostalgia and Heritage in Singapore’, by Lily Kong and Brenda Yeoh, argues about the proper definition and importance of how ‘place’ could be crucial to creating and maintaining a sustainable city in Singapore. Their views describe about how every ‘place’ has “gain significance because they are part of an individual’s routinized biographical traces” (pg 5) and “beyond individual memory, some places are given meaning through association with life and times of prominent personalities”. (pg 5) In her chapter of ‘The interlocking nature of place and time’, she further describes how life in the past affects how people live their lives in the present. She also gave an example of various heritage sites in Singapore which includes Haw Par Villa, Tiong Bahru flats, the life of kampung and farmers in the past, so on and so forth. Lily Kong also exclaims on how in ‘place-making’ “when constructed places are not confined to here and now but include places of past experience” (pg 3). 

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For instance, in Singapore past, there used to be farming practices in the kampung era, however as time goes by, the government of Singapore wanted to build more housings with the amount of land available. As technology advancement and western cultures start to come in, farming is slowly decreasing as it uses a certain amount of land which can be used to build high rise buildings for accommodations. As mentioned from their point of view, “in the retaining parts of old Singapore, we are retaining the memory of early immigrants who transformed Singapore from a fishing village to a bustling city”. (pg 8) With that, to still solve sustainability issues of food security in Singapore, ‘Urban Farming’ was practiced in the small city, as traditional farming slowly starts to decrease. Some urban farming can be found currently in hospitals and malls such as Khoo Teck Puat Hospital and Funan Mall in Singapore. With this, the aim is to raise awareness and bring local and young farmers who love farming back together.

Thus, Lily Kong and Brenda Yeoh focuses more on place-making from the past and exclaims that a ‘sense of place’ is not only through different cultures and their upbringing, but also how the individual spaces from the past form a characteristic, which form their individual interest and passion from the different groups of people.

Another method of maintaining relevant built spaces would be practicing the adaptive-reuse method which is the process of reusing an existing building which was once abandoned, to create a new life in it by designing it for another purpose other than which it was originally built and designed for. Moving on to the views of adaptive-reuse to create sustainability, ‘Adaptive reuse of heritage buildings: Sustaining an icon or eyesore’, by Peter A. Bullen argues about how maintaining and redeveloping buildings such as the heritage building is important as “according to the Department of Environment and Heritage, heritage buildings provide a value glimpse of the past and lend character to communities and therefore should be conserved for future generations”. (DEH, 2004), Moreover according to his views, “adaptive reuse can transform heritage buildings into accessible and useable places which brings life and people together in a sustainable manner”. (Peter A., pg 2)

After conducting interviews and research about the negative and positive experiences of adaptive reuse from different perspectives and views from what others might think, some of them disagrees that adaptive reuse will be an effective method in creating sustainability as they often have the thought that “adaptive reuse may not reach the desired standards of new buildings” and “their layout may be inappropriate for any change of function, particularly commercial buildings” (Peter A., pg 3). However, where there are some negative views about using the adaptive reuse method to achieve sustainability, Peter A. Bullen had come to a conclusion that, while “many respondents remain doubts about the viability particularity economic issues and functionality, the concept of adaptive reuse of heritage buildings as a component of sustainability was strongly supported”. (Peter A., pg 10) Moreover, he argues that by adapting the “adaptive reuse method, it provides the opportunity to make the total built environment more aesthetically pleasing and productive, while retaining streetscapes and our sense of place” (Peter A., pg 10). 

He further argues in a large extend that, “as sustainability of local communities depends on the sense of place and value they place in their local community. Heritage invests local communities with a powerful reason to look after their local environment and lead more sustainable lifestyles as the have a powerful connection to their physical environment through visual amenity and the intrigue and uniqueness offered by the buildings and streetscapes.” (Peter A., pg 10). According to him, he also believes that, “people feel a stronger sense of connection with their local surrounding through heritage, which is quite different to the mentality associated with new building stock, in that it can be, replicated anywhere and therefore lends to no specific connection to the local environment” (Peter A., pg 10). Hence, he describes “buildings are cultural icons and their preservation impacts on community well-being, sense of place and therefore social sustainability” (Peter A., pg 10) 

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