Preserving our heritage: NUS launches postgraduate programmes in architectural conservation

The new Master of Arts in Architectural Conservation (MAArC) programme kicked off on 8 Jan with an orientation session for its inaugural cohort. Offered by the NUS School of Design and Environment’s Department of Architecture, the MAArC offers a uniquely Asian perspective on architectural conservation education in Singapore and the region.

The orientation session was held at the NUS Baba House, a fitting venue as the 126-year-old building serves as a laboratory by facilitating hands-on training and research into architectural conservation. It is one of two unique resources available to the Department, the other being the Tun Tan Cheng Lock Centre for Asian Architectural and Urban Heritage in Melaka, Malaysia.

“We have been doing a lot of conservation work in Singapore since the 70s and 80s, but we need a knowledge base,” said Prof Ho Puay Peng, Head of NUS Architecture and UNESCO Chair Professor on Architectural Heritage Conservation and Management in Asia. “Hopefully, with this programme, we will train a body of outstanding conservationists and policymakers so that they can bring Singapore and the region’s conservationism to another level.”

The MAArC offers three streams that provide a holistic and comprehensive education in historic building conservation: policy and management; design in the historic urban context; and materials and technology. Students in the programme may choose one of the streams as a specialisation. Through this balanced approach, MAArC students can contribute to critical discourse, shaping the practice by providing thought leadership.

At the event, Ms Hwang Yu-Ning, Chief Planner & Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore, shared, “I appreciate the approach that the School is intending to take that will balance not just the academic part but also the practitioner as well as the policy parts because all these need to come together to make a conservation programme work.”

NUS Architecture undergraduate Ms Cardinia Gladyandza, who is part of this first cohort of MAArC students, wants to help kickstart an “ecosystem of conservation practitioners” that will help make conservation more accessible to the region. Her classmate, retired radiologist, and NUS Medicine alumnus Dr Lee Peng Hui hopes to contribute to conserving modernist architecture. He shared, “I think there’s been a lot of people looking at the older buildings, such as the pre-Second World War buildings, and I think it’s also important to maintain significant modern heritage.”

The MAArC programme has two intakes every year, in January and August. It can be done full-time in a year or taken flexibly between two and four years. Visit here for more information.