KUALA LUMPUR (KL) - MALAYSIA CAPITAL

HERITAGE TRAILS : Architectural Heritage

 
 

BACKGROUND TO

KUALA LUMPUR

 

This is a tour through one of the early commercial centres of Kuala Lumpur, which includes examples of various styles of shop house architecture.

 

These styles were initially adapted from buildings in southern China and later incorporated Western elements. The typical Chinese shop houses were built in rows with a common wall between them. Each shop house was long and quite narrow, with a depth of two or three times the width.

 

The traditional shop house had two storey. It combined a store in the front at street level with the owner?s living quarters above or at the rear. A central air well provided light and ventilation. The first floor projected over the ground floor to form a covered walkway.

 

The building backed onto a narrow lane, which was used for deliveries and removal of night soil, and to provide access for fire fighting. Prior to 1884, shop houses were atap huts built by Chinese merchants to service the miners. In 1884, Frank Swettenham, concerned about fire hazards, decreed that the shop houses had to be rebuilt in brick with tiled roofs.

 

The Kuala Lumpur Heritage Trails is a collaboration between Tourism Malaysia and Badan Warisan Malaysia (Heritage of Malaysia Trust).

 

The Badan is a non-profit non-government organization. It was established in 1983 with the objective of promoting the preservation and conservation of Malaysia?s built heritage.

 

Badan Warisan?s Heritage Centre is located in a 1920s British Colonial style bungalow. It has facilities for exhibitions, seminars, a gift shop and a specialist resource centre. In the garden is the restored cultural exhibit Rumah Penghulu Abu Seman, a Malay timber house formerly residence of a local headman in Kedah. It is beautifully adorned with intricate carvings and decorated to reflect a house in the 1930s. Guided tours which includes a video documentary of the restoration are available. Visitors are very welcome.

 

BADAN WARISAN MALAYSIA,

2 Jalan Stonor, 50450 Kuala Lumpur.

Tel 03-2144 9273   /   Fax 03- 2145 7884

Open: Monday-Friday 10:00am- 5:00pm, Saturday 11:00am - 4:00pm

Closed: Sunday and public holidays.

 
 

ARCHITECTURAL HERITAGE

This is a tour through one of the early commercial centres of Kuala Lumpur, which includes examples of various styles of shophouse architecture. These styles were initially adapted from buildings in southern China and later incorporated Western elements.

 

The typical Chinese shop houses were built in rows with a common wall between them. Each shop house was long and quite narrow, with a depth of two or three times the width. The traditional shop house had two storey. It combined a store in the front at street level with the owner?s living quarters above or at the rear. A central air well provided light and ventilation. The first floor projected over the ground floor to form a covered walkway. The building backed onto a narrow lane, which was used for deliveries and removal of night soil, and to provide access for fire fighting. Prior to 1884, shop houses were atap huts built by Chinese merchants to service the miners. In 1884, Frank Swettenham, concerned about fire hazards, decreed that the shophouses had to be rebuilt in brick with tiled roofs.

 

FIVE-FOOT WAY

 

A shop house was required to ?provide an arcade or verandah-way at least five feet in width . Called the kaki lime or five-foot way, this created a 1.5m wide covered passage, which enabled pedestrians to walk under cover, protected from the sun and rain, and away from vehicular traffic. As the town grew, sewers and other utilities were laid beneath the streets and the roads were repaved, thus raising the street level above that of the five-foot way. The level of the walkway can therefore be an indication of the period in which a shop house was built - the older the shop house, the lower the walkway.

 
 

In general, the period of construction can be approximated by its architectural style, namely Utilitarian, Neo-classical or Art Deco.

UTILITARIAN

1880s - 1900s

NEO-CLASSICAL

1900s - 1930s

ART DECO

1930s - 1940s

     

Large single wooden beams spanned the fa?de and were supported by heavy pillars. The first floor had a single opening, which was covered with simple wooden shutters. Later, this was replaced by a brick and mortar wall with two or three windows. The windows then became more detailed and included fanlights. The elevation of these shops was quite low with steeply sloping tiled roofs that often included jack roots for additional ventilation.

These shop houses were often three-storey high. The fa?des were more elaborate, incorporating elements of Neo-gothic, Baroque, Palladian or Renaissance designs. Greek and Roman columns, ornately decorated window frames and festoons were common. Ornate fa?des featured parapets, open balustrades and flamboyant gables.

Art Deco fa?des were characterized by strong horizontal and vertical elements and decorations were reduced to abstract geometric shapes. Typical Art Deco features included banding devices, Shanghai-plaster motifs and concrete flag poles.

 
 
 
HERITAGE TRAILS : Architectural Heritage
KUALA LUMPUR (KL) - MALAYSIA CAPITAL