The building stock as a resource: ROCHOR+

Buildings can be considered as a resource essential for the organization of economic, social and cultural activities in space as well as a sink for construction materials. The quality and durability of the tangible and intangible values of the building stock depends on the way buildings are maintained, adapted and replaced over time. The building stock of the ROCHOR+ area is one of the examples Module_III examines to  discuss methods how this resource has been put to use in the past and could be used in the future.


ROCHOR+ is home to one of Singapore’s most diverse neighborhoods where mass housing complexes and shopping malls blend in with rustic historic shophouse streets. Historically at the fringe of the city, the ROCHOR+ area has over its history carried urban and rural building types of different styles, construction techniques, construction materials, the volumetric dimensions and morphological shapes. With much original substance originating from its distinct historic periods still in place, the historic layers of the urban fabric give testimony not only for the expansion of Singapore’s urban core but also for the modernization of Singapore’s buildings and the introduction of novel building types.


Given the diversity of buildings that has been created in ROCHOR+ over the past 190 years, we investigate in the major causes for transformation in the composition of Rochor’s building stock, the speed and the effects such changes have on present and future development. We look at changes on two scales: the individual buildings as it is maintained and changed by its occupiers and entire neighbourhoods that fall under urban renewal and conservation schemes devised to implement great urban planning visions.


Using historic maps, surveys and photographs, we reconstruct building information for the ROCHOR+ area from different periods of urban development and analyse the dynamic composition of the building stock. In a bid to better understand the expansion and transformation of Singapore’s built environment Module 3 uses an open model approach that integrates the drivers, the institutional regimes (rules and conventions) and the physical constraints that shape the organization of Singapore’s land and real estate. The historic GIS database that is being developed gives account not only of the existing buildings but also of the buildings that have been replaced in the process of upgrading.


The aim is to inquire in possibilities to save natural resources as well as enhance man-made resources through elaborate schemes of conservation, maintenance and upgrade.



M-III website Rochor Plus_cap3

Changing street views. Old and new buildings on Dickson Street in 2012. (Jessica Tan, 2012)

M-III website Rochor Plus_cap2

Survival. Figure ground of Rochor in the 1970s and 2008s. Note the extent of the demolition. (Jax Tan, using data from SLA, 2012)

M-III website Rochor Plus_cap1

Succession. Transformations of the building stock in the Rochor+ area and density of building footprints, reconstruction from historic plans. (Ankur Choudhury, Jax Tan, Iris Belle; map cedits Ministry of Defence Singapore Collection, Courtesy of National Archives of Singapore and Singapore Land Authority)