Let’s Talk Heritage: Relocate and save but risk losing its authenticity? Or keep in-situ and risk losing it altogether?
“Salinger House” Paroi, Negeri Sembilan. (2019)
The fundamental guiding principle in the most established of heritage charters, such as those championed by the International Committee of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), is the belief that locating a heritage building or structure from its original setting to a new site destroys its authenticity.
While there does not seem to be much discourse on this issue in Malaysia, expansive plaudits and acclamation have been forthcoming from established leaders in the Malaysian heritage arena for some recent projects which saw heritage buildings being relocated to new sites.
These include the so-named Rumah Pusaka Chow Kit a.k.a. “Rumah Degil”, was moved (2018) a distance of around two (2) km, and now sits snug between Balai Seni Negara’s main gallery building and its administrative annex block in Kuala Lumpur; and the “Salinger House” originally located in Bangi, Selangor (built 1985-1992), and which is in the last stages of being reconstructed in its new home near Seremban, Negeri Sembilan. This is a result of the house being sold a few years ago to its current owners after the land on which it was originally located was sold separately for redevelopment. Then there is the case of the century old Kampong Teluk Memali mosque being moved (2017) from the banks of the Perak River near Kampong Gajah to a new housing development in greater Ipoh, Perak. In 2004, the “Alma Baker house”, a two-storey (part brick and part timber) building masonry and timber house was dismantled in Batu Gajah, Perak, and reassembled in Setiu, Terengganu around 2010. And over 20 years ago Badan Warisan moved the Rumah Penghulu Abu Seman a much further distance, over 300km, from Kedah to Kuala Lumpur.
Rumah Pusaka Chow Kit a.k.a. “Rumah Degil”, in front of Balai Seni Negara’s main gallery building, Kuala Lumpur. (2019)
Add to this list the many other heritage buildings, too many to name, which have been “saved” because they have been relocated. It is perhaps timely for the many professionals and preservationists who fight to protect and safeguard our heritage resources to get together to discuss this issue. Should relocation be eschewed except in exceptional circumstances such as when there is no other option for saving the structure, and if not relocated, it will cease to exist? Should one wholeheartedly embrace this practice and promote adapting and relocating an existing building to meet changing economic and social needs in today’s society or is the cultural heritage significance of a building wholly bound to its original setting?
Mind you, the costs and risks of relocating a heritage building should not be underrated. Past experience has shown that this is an expensive exercise and that great care and much planning has to be put into place to ensure that the fabric of the building will not be damaged, and the new context within which the structure is moved is one which will offer as good, if not better, opportunity for the cultural heritage significance of the structure to be enhanced.
Badan Warisan would be very interested to hear from our readers on what could or should be the way forward. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to participate in a round-table discussion on this.
President of Badan Warisan Malaysia
GRAPHENSTONE HERITAGE CONSERVATION TECHNOLOGY: One Day Workshop in Collaboration with ICOMOS Malaysia and Badan Warisan Malaysia
Graphenstone is a Spanish manufacturer of the ultimate technology in ecological coatings systems, unique in the market, and a game-changer of the green building concept. With lime and graphene as the main ingredients, Graphenstone is proud to announce that they are the only mineral paints in the world completely natural, 0% emissions and CO2 absorption. Their materials are the only ones with Cradle to Cradle GOLD certification, and they perform with the highest resistance, breathability, natural anti-bacteria, energy efficiency, excellent performance, amongst many other properties.
The one day workshop will include a technical lecture by Graphenstone’s Technical Director, Patricia Silva an on-site demonstration by an experienced applicator, Fenando T. Viera and a hand-on wall repair exercise by participants. The workshop will cover deterioration of heritage walls in a tropical climate and a range of technical challenges commonly faced when conserving such structures (and solutions). Participants are encouraged to share related building issues faced in their property or project at the workshop. The hands-on wall repair exercise involves selected external wall surfaces of the Badan Warisan Malaysia building at No. 2 Jalan Stonor.
|10.00 am – 10.30 am||Registration|
|10.30 am – 12.30 pm||Technical Lecture by Graphenstone|
|12.30 pm – 2.00 pm||Lunch (provided)|
|2.30 pm – 3.30 pm||On-site Demonstration by Graphenstone|
|3.30 pm – 5.00 pm||Application Exercise by Workshop Participants|
The admission fees are as follows:
ICOMOS/PAM/BWM Member: RM10.00
Non Member/Other: RM30.00
The workshop is limited to 50 PAX ONLY and first come first serve basis. To register, please contact ICOMOS Malaysia secretariat at 03-2202 2866 or email to email@example.com. Interested participants are encouraged to check with ICOMOS Malaysia secretariat for the available seat remaining.
Tan Sri Dato’ (Dr) Haji Mubin Sheppard is a name synonymous with the conservation and preservation of historical buildings in Malaysia. Born in Ireland in 1905, he arrived in Malaya in 1928 to serve for the Malayan Civil Service (MCS) until 1963. Tan Sri Mubin’s love for history and Malayan heritage is evident from his numerous publications, his involvement as Editor and President of MBRAS, Museum Director as well as the founding of the Malayan Historical Society in 1953. He was instrumental in the founding of Badan Warisan Malaysia in 1982 and championed the conservation and preservation of Malaysia’s built heritage.
The Mubin Sheppard Memorial Prize was established by Badan Warisan Malaysia to raise awareness among younger members of society, about the built heritage of Malaysia. 21 yers after his passing, Dr. Sr. Zuraini Ali celebrates his life and work and will share her insights on the tireless efforts and significant contributions of Tan Sri Mubin from the 1950s until his death on 11 Sept 1994.
About the Speaker:
Dr. Sr. Zuraini Md Ali is a professional in architecture and heritage conservation in Malaysia. Her PhD entitled ‘British Colonial and Post-Colonial attitudes to Architecture and Heritage Conservation in Malaysia’ references many works of Tan Sri Dato’ (Dr) Haji Mubin Sheppard. She begin her professional career in Built Environment as an Assistant Architect and in the 1990s taught at Federal Institute of Technology, Kuala Lumpur and MARA Institute of Technology. Dr. Sr. Zuraini was among the pioneering staff who established the Department of Building Surveying, Faculty of Architecture, Planning & Surveying in UiTM and currently lectures at Universiti Malaya’s Department of Building Surveying, Faculty of Built Environment. As conservationist, Dr. Zuraini has worked on projects including the restoration of Dewan Tunku Canselor, University Malaya (2002-2004) and restoration of Taman Sejarah Kusta Negara (Phase 1) Sg Buloh (2012-2014). She has received several recognition and awards in her research and consultancy works including Honorable Mention in National Heritage Awards 2004: Conservation with Adaptive Re-Use of Bargas Zakariah, Badan Warisan Malaysia in 2005.