Past Events

Challenges Facing the Conservation of Chinese Heritage Temples in Penang and Singapore

Penang Institute is proud to host a public lecture entitled “Challenges Facing the Conservation of Chinese Heritage Temples in Penang and Singapore” by Yeo Kang Shua and Tan Yeow Wooi which is scheduled as follows:

Date: November 16, Friday
Time: 7.30pm–9.30pm (Registration starts at 7.00pm)
Venue: Conference Hall, Penang Institute, 10 Brown Road, 10350 George Town, Penang

Speaker 1

Yeo Kang Shua is Associate Professor of Architectural History, Theory and Criticism at the Singapore University of Technology and Design. He held the inaugural Hokkien Foundation Career Professorship in Architectural Conservation from 2014 to 2018. He worked on a number of Chinese architectural conservation projects in Singapore, such as Wak Hai Cheng Bio, Hong San See, Former Keng Teck Huay Building and Lian Shan Shuang Lin Monastery and had the honour of being accorded the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Award for Culture Heritage Conservation for the first two projects. He has contributed articles in both local and international journals on theories of architecture, conservation and history.


One of the characteristics of traditional Chinese architecture is that the main components of the structure are fabricated out of timber. However, being an organic material, timber requires periodic maintenance and in some cases, their replacement becomes necessary. As with other built-forms, temples undergo reconstruction, renovation, extensions and/or alterations over time. When modern building materials, such as reinforced concrete, became available from the early 20th century in Singapore, these were gradually adopted for use in both the construction of new temples as well as in the renovation of historic ones. In the Singapore context, it was during the 1970s and 1980s that numerous historic temples experienced extensive change in building materials, especially from timber to concrete. This was before the push for architectural conservation by the authorities in the 1980s took place, but a change in policy, along with the issuance of International Charters and Documents such as The Nara Document on Authenticity in 1994 and the Principles for the Preservation of Historic Timber Structures in 1999, led to a shift in our understanding of the conservation of Chinese architecture. This talk will place the subject in a wider socio-historical perspective and will discuss the technical challenges in the conservation of Chinese temples, specifically in the conservation of timber.

Speaker 2

Tan Yeow Wooi graduated from the architecture department of Taiwan’s National Cheng Kung University, and is presently the director of the Penang-based Tan Yeow Wooi Culture and Heritage Research Studio. He is also a member of ICOMOS International, ICOMOS Malaysia and Registered Conservator of Jabatan Warisan Negara (National Heritage Department). Tan has also written substantially on the subject of heritage and conservation. His publications include: The History and Architecture of Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi, Penang, Kapitan Chung Keng Kwee’s Shen Zhi Jia Shu and Hai Ji Zhan and Penang Shophouses – A Handbook of Features and Materials.


As one of the large communities in Penang, the Chinese have built numerous traditional temples over the past two centuries. These temples are mostly clan- and locality-based and house a pantheon of patron gods and deities. With their different and unique architectural styles, these temples reflect the sociocultural origins of the Penang Chinese. Hence, they are precious heritage that deserves to be properly and professionally conserved. Identifying the original style and understanding the history of the temples are crucial before restoration is carried out. This talk will focus on the case of Hock Teik Cheng Sin Temple on Armenian Street and will discuss the challenges involved in restoring and conserving this, one of the oldest, temples in George Town.

Kindly register your interest here. Please feel free to circulate this invitation to your family and friends. For further enquiries, please contact the secretariat at

Note: Coffee and tea is provided. Please be punctual.