Singapore heritage skills training

Students and professionals at the University of Singapore practise mixing lime under the supervision of Lee Godfrey - Senior Mason Conservator at York Minster Works Department.


With the support of our Commonwealth Heritage Skills Programme between 6–12 April 2023 the National University of Singapore (NUS) hosted heritage skills workshops with teaching from Lee Godfrey and Laura Cotter. Lee is Senior Mason Conservator at the York Minster Works Department and Laura is Research and Partnerships Manager for the York Minster Fund.

In one of the practical workshops, 17 participants from diverse backgrounds – students, practicing professionals such as contractors, and government representatives, learned how to replace and apply traditional lime plaster: mixing, applying, and letting the lime mortar dry. Marking a breakthrough in NUS’s outreach activities, for the first-time building owners from neighbouring houses also joined in to understand why traditional materials and approaches are important.

Singapore stands out for its unique urban landscape: historic districts, heritage buildings, and national monuments, which blend with modern high-rise buildings. The survival of these rich and varied historic sites amid Singapore's rapid development is possible due to deliberate, conscious, and integrated urban planning. With the city-state as a springboard providing an enriching backdrop, NUS’s MA in Architectural Conservation aims to provide a programme that is sensitive to the varied challenges facing historic Asian cities, as well as the diverse opportunities provided by the richness of cultural heritage and the socio-economic elements of the region. The MA offers a unique perspective on diverse Asian cultures by providing students with comprehensive knowledge, essential hands-on training, and experience to develop skills for various careers in historic building conservation and related fields.

Due to the strong connection between the built heritage of Singapore and the UK, NUS invited Laura and Lee to share their skills and expertise, drawing on their experience of finding ways to sustain heritage skills at York Minster. As well as delivering the practical workshops, Laura and Lee delivered a lecture to over 117 people, including 20 registered architects from Singapore, offering insights into conservation and repair. We were pleased to support Laura and Lee's heritage skills training in Singapore and we will continue to develop skills programmes that build local capacity and resilience, whilst safeguarding the future of important buildings and sites.

Left: Laura Cotter and Lee Godfrey before their heritage skills presentation in Hong Kong (CHF's Commonwealth Heritage Skills Programme funded the workshops in Singapore, but alongside this Laura and Lee also travelled to Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Mumbai). Right: Lee teaching at the University of Singapore. 

Insights into Conservation and Repair – Laura Cotter and Lee Godfrey in conversation with Kelvin Ang at the National University of Singapore

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