Latest Event Updates
12 October 2018
Over the Malaysia Day holidays in mid-September 2018, the Ampang Park Shopping Complex in Kuala Lumpur was demolished. When we came back to work after the holidays, all we saw where the building had once stood were several earth movers shifting rubble.
Over the past couple of years, following the news that this complex was going to make way for the MRT (no doubt, part of the city’s sorely needed transportation infrastructure development), there were many expressions of regret and a lot of nostalgia making the rounds both in social media as well as main stream media. It was obvious that Ampang Park Shopping Complex held great memories for many who grew up in KL in the 1970s, 80s. And, if one were to go by the comments on the demolition, it even holds a place in the hearts and minds of those who have lived in KL in the 1990s and early 2000s.
This overwhelming sentiment demonstrates that this building was so much a part of the heritage of our city. It certainly validates the inclusion of this shopping complex in Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia’s (PAM) publication, “Guide to Kuala Lumpur Notable Buildings” (1976) which listed 71 structures built between the 1880s and 1974 which PAM deemed to be of architectural merit and historical importance.
A quick survey of the list shows that over half the structures listed were built by the late 1930s and would for most part be considered to be “heritage”; credit must be given to the forward-looking authors, that the remaining 32 are modern buildings, constructed in the two decades post-Merdeka.
About a dozen, eight of which are from the latter group, have been replaced by other, bigger, higher density developments. Some, such as the AIA Building on Jalan Ampang with its original distinctive diamond-shaped sunscreen of iodised aluminium, have been substantially changed to be unrecognisable. A few are vacant and their futures unknown to us while several others have had major developments in their immediate vicinity with later-day high-rise blocks substantially extending their floor space.
For the most part, religious and education-related buildings have remained extant, although there have been a couple which have been demolished and new, larger, grander structures built to replace them. Some others, like the old hospital at Tanglin, were demolished and replicas built, looking almost alike, but using new materials; which begs the question why they were demolished in the first place.
Many of those from the list which remain have in one way or another been changed, upgraded, updated, refurbished to meet new uses and current building standards and accessibility, some for the better, with the jury still out for others.
It is, however, a sad testament to KL’s architectural history that today, the buildings considered by PAM as iconic, deserving to be preserved as part of the architectural heritage of Kuala Lumpur, and which contributed to our national architectural identity, are no longer with us.
As we come towards the end of 2018, perhaps it is time to take another look at this list of notable buildings of Kuala Lumpur, to hopefully take stock of what remains, and to extend this list to include others built since the mid-1970s. With a more comprehensive inventory of notable buildings for the city, Badan Warisan Malaysia would hope that these will in the future be acknowledged and “protected” by the owners, statutory authorities and KLites, as an integral part of the architectural, historical and cultural character of our city.
President of Badan Warisan Malaysia
ABOUT THE TALK
Audrey has written “Memories of a Malaccan” as a tribute to her father, Lim Keng Watt (1909-1996). She has selected images from his vast collection of photographs and postcards and has drawn on his notes, documents and other memorabilia to highlight significant aspects of the socio-political scene of Malaya before, during and after World War II. She will talk about her father’s life and times – as student and teacher, Scout, sportsman, soldier, musician and drama enthusiast. The nostalgic pictures and interesting mementos she shares will fascinate both general readers and history buffs
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Audrey Lim is a Founder-member of Malacca Theatre Group. Has helped the MTG organise inter-school drama competitions. Also acts and helps regularly in its productions. Served as President of the MTG for 3 terms. She wrote a book titled Write with Success originally published by Longmans, now revised and reprinted as Write It Right ; now in its 12th. edition. Recently she wrote 2 short plays for the latest Malacca Theatre Group production Snippets held in November 2016, one of which was a historical but fictionalized play about her aunt who had been jailed by the Japanese during the Occupation, while the other Beauty and the Bard was in the finals of the Short and Sweet drama fest in KL.
ABOUT THE TALK
The importance of intangible cultural heritage is the wealth of knowledge and skills that is transmitted through it from one generation to the next. Pua kumbu, a tie and natural dye resist textile in Sarawak, has long been known as sacred traditional cloths woven on backstrap looms by the Iban women weavers. As an aesthetic material culture, the pua kumbu possesses a unique identity that carries the legend, stories and rhymes that are inseparable from the traditional Iban cosmology and belief system. Once a ritualistic cloth, at present day, the pua kumbu has become only the symbol of Iban identity and cultural pride because of transformations in their belief system, way of life and education.
The knowledge and skills in the production of pua kumbu are becoming very scarce amongst the young generation of Iban women, most of whom treat this intangible cultural heritage as the knowledge and skills of their grandmothers. It is becoming a dying art. Collective memory seems to be the only way to restore the fragments of knowledge and skills of pua kumbu production – identification of the name of design, motif, rhyme and story for each design ever produced in the past. The application of memories of pua kumbu narratives as the path to identify each pua kumbu ever produced is guarded by traditional intellectual property rights owned by families who have the recognized ownership of designs; it can give both positive and negative impacts in the work of conservation and restoration of the knowledge.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Dr. Welyne Jeffrey Jehom is currently under the Department Of Anthropology And Sociology in the Faculty Of Arts And Social Sciences of the University of Malaya.
She is of Bidayuh descent, born and raised in Kuching, Sarawak. She is motivated to be in the academic world in an effort to prove the highest of education qualifications is achievable despite having limited resources available and being a woman – one needs is the motivation. Therefore, in Dr. Welyne’s research in recent years, she focuses on problems that hinders development and the progress of the community she is dear to, and research that deals with the development of the community from within
ABOUT THE TALK
Alex Teoh is a paper and book conservator, active in restoration and collection care for rare manuscripts, collectable prints, ephemera, antique maps and antiquarian books. Trained in the UK, he has been working on various heritage centres, libraries and private collection in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. Since his first talk/presentation at Badan Warisan in 2012, Alex returns to share further on the conservation and restoration scene in Malaysia and our Nusantara area.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Alex is a member of the International Institute of Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (IIC) and the Society of Bookbinders in the UK. Locally he is a member of Badan Warisan Malaysia and Manassa (The Indonesian Association of Nusantara Manuscripts)
ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
BROUGHT TO DELIGHT
20th Aug – 8th Sept 2018, 10am – 6pm
Main Lobby, PAM Centre
As part of a collaboration and partnership between Badan Warisan Malaysia, Linea Architect Sdn Bhd with KLAF2018 and Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia (PAM), BROUGHT TO DELIGHT is an exhibition featuring the recently conserved Sultan Suleiman Royal Mosque, Klang, curated and produced by Badan Warisan Malaysia.
ABOUT THE MOSQUE
The Sultan Suleiman Royal Mosque was officiated as the Suleiman Jamiur Rahmah Mosque when it was completed in 1933. The building was designed as an octagonal garden pavilion-like structure at the foot of the old Astana Mahkota Puri in Klang. It was the largest concrete structure in Malaya in 1933 – quite an engineering feat at a time when reinforced concrete was relatively new.
An Art Deco edifice, the mosque stands as one of the most unique religious architecture in the country. The ambitious project involved close consultations with the fifth Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Alaeddin Suleiman Shah, who selected the site and vetted through the design and planning details. Design credits go to the architect, Leofric Kesteven (Chairman of the Malayan Institute of Architects from 1931 to 1933); John Thomas Chester, the reinforced concrete specialist attached to United Engineers Ltd; and Rodolfo Nolli, the Singapore based Italian sculptor who worked on the ornaments of the building.
The mosque has stood for over eight decades, but not without transformations to its interior and Ablution Pavilion, affecting its original design intentions. Jabatan Kerja Raya Negeri Selangor, with assistance from the Jabatan Warisan Negara and Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor, had successfully completed the restoration of the mosque in November 2017. The building has been brought back to its original 1933 appearance (as closely as possible), which includes the uncovering of colourful bas-reliefs adorning its upper walls and its original sunken ablution pond.
As consultants to Jabatan Kerja Raya Negeri Selangor, Linea Architect Sdn. Bhd. and Badan Warisan Heritage Services had worked together in recording the original architectural details and the construction process involved in the restoration of the Sultan Suleiman Royal Mosque from 2015 to 2017. These records serve as references to understand Malaya’s architectural scene in the early 1930s and would be displayed at PAM Centre from 20th to 26th August 2018.
The Sultan Suleiman Royal Mosque was placed under the National Heritage list in 2012. A ceremony to mark the completion of its restoration took place on 3 November 2017, officiated by the Sultan of Selangor, HRH Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah Alhaj.
ABOUT THE TALK
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Originating from Finland, the term ‘VERNADOC’ (vernacular documentation) refers to a methodology of vernacular architecture study that emphasizes the information and data collection on site using basic techniques to produce high quality measured drawings. Having gained international recognition, the use of VERNADOC is expected to result in drawings that will provide an insight into the heritage element to the value of measured buildings with the goal of incentivizing building owners and inspiring community members to join hands in conserving those buildings.
ABOUT THE TALK
We live in the Anthropocene, an age where humans might as well be gods. Across the world, rapid development, deforestation and other forms of environmental degradation are driving habitats and species to extinction faster than we can save them. More than 75 per cent of Malaysians now live in urban areas, generally disconnected from the bulk of nature conservation efforts that take place in large swathes of remaining natural ecosystem far from towns and cities.
Meanwhile, in spite of human action, nature exerts her own agency. While we encroach on wild areas, a sizeable number of plants and animals demonstrate remarkable resilience in adapting to urban settings. While urban areas are seldom associated with biodiversity conservation, patches and pathways of habitats and ecological corridors exist within the city. These support wildlife and challenge our assumptions of sterility, our understanding of urban green space, and our expectations of green cities.
This talk presents the preliminary findings of an ecological survey conducted by The Rimba Project at the Badan Warisan Malaysia (BWM) centre in downtown KL. It revisits a decade-old tree-planting project on the site, reviewing its progress and considering its significance amidst the backdrop of rapid development in KL’s Golden Triangle. Presenting a glimpse into the diverse animal life found in BWM’s one-hectare site, this talk argues that space can, in fact, be considered a hybrid expression of ex-situ and in-situ conservation. It is a co-produced space where human and natural agency operates in tandem, where the unexpected encounter with a bird, bat or insect may yet surprise us even as we go about our busy, busy lives.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Benjamin Ong is an ecologist based at the University of Malaya’s Rimba Ilmu Botanic Garden, where he founded and manages The Rimba Project, a campus sustainability and urban conservation initiative. In 2016, he was awarded a Chevening-CIMB ASEAN scholarship to study Sustainable Development at the University of St Andrews. He won the Chevening Green Volunteer of the Year award in 2017 for his work with the Transition University of St Andrews, a community-based sustainability organisation. Benjamin’s research interests centre on the relationship between human communities and nature, especially in the urban space. He is an avid writer and photographer. His latest book, The Backyard Before You, is a meditation on biodiversity conservation in the urban residential neighbourhood.