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Burkill Hall to be returned to its original identity as an Anglo-Malayan style house

06 Nov 2015

- Last surviving example of Anglo-Malayan plantation-style house in Southeast Asia conserved in the Singapore Botanic Gardens

- Preserving cultural heritage is an essential part of resilience building

- Global paints and coatings company AkzoNobel furthers its commitment to 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation, with Singapore’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site

Burkill Hall 

AkzoNobel to repaint historic Burkill Hall and the Bandstand with a complete suite of wall, wood and metal coatings.

Burkill Hall, one of the historic buildings in the Singapore Botanic Gardens, will be repainted and returned to its original identity as an Anglo-Malayan Plantation Style House. Global paints and coatings company, AkzoNobel will refresh the look for Burkill Hall and the Bandstand, through the Garden City Fund, the National Parks Board’s (NParks) registered charity. The renovation of Burkill Hall is the first flagship Human Cities project to be announced as part of the commitment the company made to the 100 Resilient Cities organisation, under AkzoNobel’s ‘Human Cities’ initiative.

The partnership was announced jointly by Dr Leong Chee Chiew, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, NParks and also Commissioner of Parks & Recreation and Mr Jeremy Rowe, Managing Director of AkzoNobel Decorative Paints for South East and South Asia, Middle East.

Heritage holds key to emotional connection and human resilience

The 156-year old Singapore Botanic Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, played an important role in fostering agricultural development in Singapore and the region. In particular, the Gardens’ success in the cultivation and promotion of Para Rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) led to the birth of the modern rubber industry that brought great prosperity to Southeast Asia in the early 20th century. The research carried out at the Gardens also laid the foundation for the flourishing orchid industry, placing Singapore on the world map for orchid cultivation.

Burkill Hall served as the residence of the Gardens’ superintendents and Directors for more than a hundred years. Built in 1868, the building is believed to be the only surviving example of an Anglo-Malayan plantation-style residence in the region. 

As part of its initiative, AkzoNobel will also undertake the restoration and re-coating of the Bandstand. A ‘must-see’ attraction at the Botanic Gardens, the Bandstand derived its name from the open parade ground built in 1861, which regularly hosted evening performances by military bands. In 1930, an octagonal gazebo-like building was constructed, where it remains today. Though less frequently, concerts are still occasionally held at the Bandstand as a nod to this early tradition. It is today a popular backdrop for wedding photos.

Creating better, happier living environments

Since the inscription, the community, including several corporate organisations, has offered strong support for the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Professor Leo Tan, Chairman of the Garden City Fund said, “We are encouraged by the number of organisations which have stepped forward to support the living legacy of the Singapore Botanic Gardens through the Garden City Fund. With AkzoNobel’s partnership, the community will now be better able to appreciate the Gardens’ cultural heritage. We welcome more corporate organisations to join us in raising awareness of the Gardens’ rich history.” Please refer to the media factsheet for details of corporate support for the Gardens.

Dr Nigel Taylor, Director of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, said, “The rich cultural heritage of the Singapore Botanic Gardens is a collection of the shared memories spanning generations of Singaporeans. Conservation of the Gardens’ icons like Burkill Hall and the Bandstand are key to this. What was thought to be a black and white colonial bungalow, Burkill Hall was recently revealed to be an Anglo Malayan plantation house, the only surviving example of its kind in the region. It is thus significant that Burkill Hall be repainted to its original white exterior. Such contributions from corporate organisations like AkzoNobel are integral to the community support in sustaining the legacy of our first UNESCO World Heritage Site.”

AkzoNobel will contribute to the restoration of these culturally important structures with a comprehensive portfolio of wall, wood and metal coatings. Jeremy Rowe, Managing Director of AkzoNobel Decorative Paints, South East and South Asia, Middle East said, “We are honored to be a partner for the restoration of such iconic structures within the Singapore Botanic Gardens. At the same time, we would also like to congratulate the Gardens at its inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Preserving and protecting cultural heritage is one of the main pillars of our Human Cities initiative. It is designed to help urban areas become more inspiring and energizing for its citizens.

“Singapore has transformed from a Third World rural landscape to a First World urban one within a generation. Rapid urbanization creates a melting pot of cultures, capabilities and ambitions.  As new people, companies and communities combine in new or growing cities, it is the culture that can define the story for this area for generations to come. AkzoNobel is committed to creating more value in these communities. 

“Our Human Cities initiative is all about making meaningful contributions that re-energize urban areas, safeguard heritage and help cities become more inspiring and vibrant. The work we are doing in Singapore Botanic Gardens is a great example of what we are trying to achieve and is the first of several flagship projects linked to our 100 Resilient Cities commitment that we’ll be launching around the world. We thought it will make a nice gift for Singapore’s 50th birthday.” added Jeremy.

Mr Lim Horng Dar, Associate Director, City Relationships, 100 Resilient Cities, said, “Our mission is to link cities that want to boost their resilience to industry experts that are able to offer help and advice, and also to provide those experts with a better understanding of what cities need. We are very happy to see this work occur because preserving and celebrating cultural heritage is a critical part of resilience building. We cannot move forward without understanding and celebrating our past.”

Painting a cohesive, sustainable nation

As a mark of respect to the heritage of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, staff of AkzoNobel will be also be involved to help coat Burkill Hall.  From late October to the following February, AkzoNobel will also be engaging both global and local communities through the use of social media, sharing fun facts of the Gardens.

As a leading global paints and coatings company and major producer of specialty chemicals, AkzoNobel calls on its expertise and products to protect, restore and add colour to the built environment. ‘Human Cities’, a company-wide initiative, aims to transform urban spaces and enable more sustainable and enjoyable living for its occupants.

Countries around the world have experienced the transformative power of ‘humanizing’ urban living. The community initiatives undertaken by AkzoNobel are wide-ranging, from education and youth skills development, to sports and recreation.

Media Factsheet: Contributions from corporate organisations in support of the Singapore Botanic Gardens

Last updated on 09 July 2018

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