Reviving Fort Tanjong Katong
THE TEAM BEHIND THE ACTIVATION PROPOSAL
Continuing on from our previous blog post, we wanted to share more about the team working hard on the Fort Katong activation proposal and their motivations for wanting to kickstart this project. We interviewed some members of the team and want you to hear from them!
In conversation with Mr Jack Sim, Resident of Meyer Road
“When I first moved to my house in Meyer road, I noticed there was a Fort Road so I was wondering, “Where is the Fort?”
When asked about why he got involved in the Fort Katong Activation Proposal, Jack shared with us that as a Meyer Road resident himself, he has always been very interested in the Fort and was also a part of the excavation works that took place in 2003-2004. Passionate about the project, Jack believes that the activation project can create an exciting opportunity for people to come and participate in learning about Singapore’s history as people can chat and share their stories over a cup of coffee.
"Is the Fort part of our way of life? Yes! Knowing how Singapore used to defend itself and how we have been defending itself from then till now as well as how it connects to all the other Forts in Singapore. The Tanjong Katong Fort helps reinforce our psychological defense."
Jack also shared that people who are interested and keen to contribute to this project can give their voice in support of the Fort because , “this historic monument belongs to every Singaporean."
“I think people want to have a sense of history and belonging to their neighborhood. … they are curious to know all that lies undiscovered in Singapore."
In conversation with NUS Archaeology Professor John Miksic and NTU School of Humanities Associate Professor Goh Geok Yian
“There is a lot not recorded in our history resources and how Singapore’s history is so much more complex and detailed.” - Professor Miksic
In conversation with Professor Miksic and Professor Goh, they shared their vested interest in learning the untold local historical narratives of Singapore’s history that may not be taught in schools or a part of the widely-told narrative. Echoing the sentiments for Jack when speaking about the name of Fort Road, Professor Miksic pointed out that, “many people don't know why Fort Road is called Fort Road. They don't know that there is an entire fort beneath them because they just don't see the Fort”.
Professor Goh also added that people often don’t think that there is anything from our history to discover and so, with this project, they will be curious to know, “how do all these historical artefacts and architecture contribute to the larger narrative of Singapore’s history?”
“This Fort Katong contributes to Singapore having a unique local identity because it reminds us of the times our ancestors lived in where there were pirates and attacks from European powers… Singapore's topography has changed so much since then but in the past the ocean was right there... where enemies used to attack. And so, all these things affected how the locals lived in that time, what objects they used, where they formed their neighbourhoods and so on.” - Professor Miksic
In conversation with Andrew Ang and Neo Zhen Yang, previous WeCreate Studio interns
“It’s not everyday you get to work on a historical project like this and I wanted to see it completed from start to end.” - Zhen Yang
Andrew and Zhen Yang, polytechnic students studying Architecture, were first brought onto the Fort Katong Activation proposal project as part of their job scope during their internship at WeCreate Studio. However, both of them chose to stay on as volunteers even after the end of their internship, contributing their skills and hard work to the project.
When asked about why he was interested in this project, Andrew shared that because of his keen interest in archaeology when he was younger, this project has been eye-opening for him to see how architecture and archaeology has come together in this historical monument. Zhen Yang also shared that a historical project like this was hard to come by and so they both wanted to see it to its completion.
Speaking as a young adult and on behalf of young adults, Andrew also shared his belief that, “people [his] age (in their twenties) will be interested and keen to explore a fort like this” and Zhen Yang confirmed this sentiment by adding, “even though it was built by the British during colonial rule, the British used to be here and they influenced Singapore’s heritage and roots so this definitely counts towards our local history.”
“Not everyone may come to explore the fort, they may just come because it’s a cafe. But, either way, it will attract a crowd because it brings people together and there is an opportunity to learn about Singapore’s heritage.” - Zhen Yang
In conversation with Trecia, Principal Architect and Founder of WeCreate Studio
“WeCreate Studio is an architectural firm grounded in values for people. With the awareness of Fort Katong, we must do our best to reposition this portion of history creatively with the modern needs, so that we can bring the lessons of our forefathers back to the younger generations.” - Ar. Trecia Lim
To answer the question about how WeCreate Studio became involved in the Fort Katong Activation project, we spoke to Trecia. Sharing about her personal interest in the project, Trecia mentioned her excitement to know that, “there are remnants of history still yet to be uncovered, given our small land mass and young history. History and heritage is important to understanding our roots. I am honoured to contribute in my capacity as an architect”. Trecia also shared that WeCreate Studio’s role in the project is to provide research and facilitate conversations as the project’s curator. This would allow WeCreate Studio to “look into the opportunities of how we can create models and systems that can support the financial needs of the maintenance of the Fort and sharing the Fort’s history with the public.”
“If you are interested to be part of the development of the remaining fragments of Singapore’s history, do step forward!”
We do hope this article has given you some new insights about the Fort Katong project and why the activation proposal is an endeavour close to the hearts of many on the team. As this project progresses, we will be posting updates so do keep a lookout for that! Feel free to contact us if you have any queries or would like to offer your support for the project!