Saturday, 5 Dec 2020

Eco-friendly chamber for paper offerings among amenities proposed for new funeral parlour complex in Bidadari

SINGAPORE – An eco-friendly burning chamber for paper offerings that will reduce the unpleasant effects of open-air burning and wake halls designed to offer families privacy from public view will be among key features of a new funeral parlour complex in Bidadari estate.

The Housing Board (HDB) announced on Tuesday (Nov 3) that it has awarded the design consultancy tender for the new funeral parlour complex to a team led by Laud Architects Pte Ltd.

HDB and the National Environment Agency (NEA) announced in January 2018 the redevelopment of funeral parlours at Mount Vernon Columbarium complex into the new funeral parlour complex to meet demand for after-death facilities and services in the face of an aging population.

The new funeral parlour complex will occupy 1.1 ha of the 7.1 ha previously occupied by Mount Vernon Columbarium complex.

Slated to be completed in 2025, it will be located near an existing Gurkha cantonment, a proposed Chinese temple and proposed residential areas. A memorial garden will be developed next to the site and the new Bidadari Park will be located directly opposite the funeral complex across the Sang Nila Utama Road.

“There is a need for a purpose-built funeral parlour complex given the shortage of spaces to hold wakes. There used to be eight funeral parlour halls at Mount Vernon Columbarium, but has since been returned to the state for redevelopment in October 2018,” said Mr Ang Zisheng, president of the association of funeral directors Singapore.

“The new complex minimises disamenities arising from funerals held at void decks and available open spaces in public estates. It could also set a benchmark for the funeral profession,” he added.

Apart from 12 funeral wake halls, there will also be shops selling flowers and funerary goods and paraphernalia. The complex will also have a seminar room and a food and beverage outlet for the public.

There will not be a columbarium and crematorium in the low-rise complex. Instead, a centralised eco-friendly burning chamber will be built inside for paper offerings as open-air burning will not be permitted.

Entrances to wake halls and funeral trade shops will be designed to face inwards toward the complex’s internal courtyards. Funerary activities and processions will be blockedfrom public view, through the building layout and design elements such as screens.

Mr Ang hopes the bidders for the tender for another funeral parlour complex in Woodlands, which is closing on Nov 5, will “do more than just provide functional spaces for funerals.”

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“They must also make sure to provide a conducive environment for grieving,” he said.

Demand for funeral service halls has grown as they offer amenities like air conditioning and wi-fi, Mount Vernon Sanctuary managing director Ang Ziqian said. “I believe (the new Bidadari complex) is a step in the right direction,” he noted.

Mount Vernon Sanctuary took over a derelict crematorium at Mount Vernon Columbarium and turned it into funeral service halls.

“Over the eight years of its operations, until the area was taken back for the HDB redevelopment, Mount Vernon Sanctuary (found that) Singaporeans want … funeral service halls that are decent and dignified in serene park-like surroundings,” he added.

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The funeral parlour complex in Woodlands Industrial Park E8 is the first of four such sites that the NEA will roll out over the next decade to cope with demands of the ageing population. The 5,002.8 sq m parcel will house 10 to 14 wake halls, embalming facilities, as well as florist shops, a food and beverage outlet, and shops selling funerary goods and paraphernalia.

The site is expected to be operational about four years after the award of the tender.

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