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The Maris Stella Archway

As Bidadari town earnestly comes up in the area around Upper Serangoon Road, Upper Aljunied Road, and Bartley Road, no existing landmark is safe.


The latest victim: A 24-year-old school archway.


The iconic Maris Stella High School gate will be demolished but a new archway, slated to be completed by the end of the year, will be built using parts of the old gate with the original look retained.


The gate has to be removed from its current location in Mount Vernon Road as the road has to be widened to serve residents of an upcoming housing development in Bidadari estate, said the Housing Board in a statement on May 15.


The new gate will be located in Bartley Walk.


In a Facebook post the same day, Minister of State for National Development Tan Kiat How said that HDB has been in talks with the school management on ways to preserve the gate since 2018.


The option of relocating the whole gate was discussed but engineers assessed that doing so would risk damaging the gate and pose a safety risk to students.


Mr Tan said: “HDB intends to incorporate as much of the old gate into the new, such as the iconic blue tiles and possibly the plaque that carries the school’s name.”


The decision comes amid a petition to save the original gate. The campaign on Change.org has garnered more than 5,000 signatures since it was started on Thursday.


The petition was launched the day after Maris Stella High School announced that the gate, built in 1997, will be demolished after May 31.


The school’s alumni told The Straits Times that the gate’s unique structure incorporates East and West design elements that are unlike those commonly found in other Catholic schools.


HDB on Saturday said part of the driveway into the school compound had to be acquired to improve traffic flow in Mount Vernon Road for residents of an upcoming Bidadari estate.


ST understands that a Build-To-Order project - Bartley Beacon - has been planned for a site next to Maris Stella High School.


Announced last year, the project will include 880 flats comprising three-room, four-room and five-room units.


In its statement, HDB acknowledged that the school’s alumni and members of the public had asked if the gate can be preserved or replicated.


It said that Maris Stella’s alumni association will develop a digital replica of the design of the existing gate and incorporate it into the new gate.


“We will continue to work with the school and the alumni association on the design and construction of the new gate within the school compound,” said HDB.


The archway along Mount Vernon Road, which I visited five days before its removal.

The philosophical question of the month: If a historic landmark is demolished, and a replacement is constructed using parts of the original landmark with the original look retained... is it still heritage conservation?


Anyway...


Another notable urban and transport development: The archway has to make way for the widening of Mount Vernon Road, which was laid down sometime between 1956 and 1958. All this while, the road has been a single-lane dual carriageway. This status of at least 63 years will change this year, to serve the flats of Bidadari coming up around it.


The 1958 street directory showing Mount Vernon Road. The road’s length and alignment have largely remained the same all this while.

Mount Vernon Road.

Goodbye trees...


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