About

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People’s Park Complex, January 2017. Photo by research team.

This project website is used to solicit memories from the public around shopping malls and their cultural heritage in Singapore.

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With more than 200 malls across the island, Singapore has 1.08 sqm of retail space per capita, or an estimated one mall for every 53,000 people (Guzman 2016). Despite its ubiquity, there has been scant scholarly and public attention paid to shopping malls as potential sites of heritage in Singapore, perhaps because they are a postcolonial phenomenon as compared to religious and civic landmarks.

Being highly transient buildings, most malls undergo frequent redevelopments to keep up with rapidly changing trends. As consumer outlets, they are often given lower regard as identity markers. After the novelty of their initial opening fades, the more enduring shopping centres in Singapore are often remembered for their iconic landmarks, distinctive retail and businesses, and the lifestyle trends that have emerged around specific malls. However, as malls are either physically demolished or revamped to respond to changing market conditions, much of such characteristics disappear as well.

As entire generations are brought up in shopping malls, they have become sites of cultural memories and heritage. It is therefore timely that a more sustained research and documentary process be effected to raise awareness of these places as prospective sites of both tangible and intangible heritage.

As such, our research project primarily responds to three aims:

a. To raise the awareness of the shopping centre in Singapore as part of the republic’s cultural heritage. Such would be critical in sensitizing both the public and developers into the need to recognize the historical value of the properties, services and legacies involved that would bring about more culturally meaningful mall spaces in future as part of the goals of making Singapore a liveable city.

b. To identify the architecture and socio-cultural aspects of shopping centres as part of Singapore’s cultural heritage.

c. To establish a framework and process of studying and documenting the intangible heritage in shopping centres in Singapore.

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This project is supported by the Heritage Research Grant (HRG) from the National Heritage Board awarded in March 2017. The project is titled “Evaluating the Tangible and Intangible Heritage of Shopping Centres in Singapore”, Project number 92.90. The project has been granted ethics approval by the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Institutional Review Board in October 2017, reference number IRB-2017-08-015.

The project’s research team include:

Liew Kai Khiun, Assistant Professor, Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University.

Natalie Pang Lee San, Senior Research Fellow, IPS Social Lab, Institute of Policy Studies, National University of Singapore. Formerly: Assistant Professor, Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University.

Lai Chee Kien, Adjunct Associate Professor, Architecture and Sustainable Design, Singapore University of Technology and Design.

Crystal Abidin, Lecturer, School of Communication and Creative Arts, Deakin University. Formerly: Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore.

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This page was last updated on 06 August 2018.