KUALA LUMPUR (KL) - MALAYSIA CAPITAL
HERITAGE TRAILS : Market Square
 
 

MARKET SQUARE

MALAYSIA HERITAGE TRAILS

 

CENTRAL MARKET

 

The Central Market is a cultural centre, filled with restaurants and handicraft shops.

 

This Art Deco building by architect/engineer TV Lee began construction in 1936. Its layout is splayed to align with the street pattern. No two fa?des are alike but the whole is held together by the unifying treatment of the windows and doors. The stepped entrance design as well as the strong moulded frieze, which runs along just below the roofline, is repeated on the sides. Note the Art Deco ornamentation in the form of the wrought iron panels of interlocking rings, above the doorways. The windows and skylight are ?Calorex? glass, which transmits only 20% of the sun?s heat but admits 60% daylight. For years, the Market was Kuala Lumpur?s largest single room, measuring 123.7m long, 60.8m wide and 7.9m high (407ft x 200ft x 26ft).

 

Central Market was the town?s wholesale and retail wet market. When the decision was made to demolish the Market and surrounding shophouses, concerned ?citizens and organizations, including Badan Warisan Malaysia, campaigned for its conservation. With government backing. Bumi Harta Sdn Bhd, the property developer, commissioned architects William Lim Associates and Chen Voon Fee to renovate the building. When it reopened in 1986, this was the first case of a heritage building being adapted for a change in its use on a large scale.

 
 
 

JALAN HANG KASTURI

 

When Central Market was a market selling fresh produce, the Jalan Hang Kasturi shops played a complementary role, retailing such goods as dried fish and preserved vegetables. Many of the dry goods stores still remain.  The shophouses along this pedestrian mall are mostly Neo-classical structures. A particularly fine example is the block of shophouses at No 32?52, built around 1909. Alternating roofline and window shapes link these two-storey buildings.

 
 
 

OCBC BUILDING

 

This Art Deco building was constructed in 1938 as the headquarters of the Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation. The architect was AO Coltman. This design was innovative for its time as it provided basement storage for bicycles, which were usually parked haphazardly on the pavement. Unlike other Art Deco fa?des, the corner of the building is not accentuated due to the recessed entrance and the regularly spaced windows that flow across the fa?de. At one end is a tapering stepped pylon with a flagpole on top. A muted mosaic panel runs up the centre of the pylon.

 
 
 

MARKET SQUARE

 

The original township centered around Yap Ah Loy?s large market and gambling sheds, close to the river confluence where the miners first landed.

His house, a large wooden structure, was located at the Lebuh Pasar Besar end of the Square. In 1882, citing health reasons and claiming that the site was state land, Frank Swettenham wanted Yap Ah Loy?s market and gambling sheds demolished. As a compromise, Yap Ah Loy removed his gambling sheds and was allowed to rebuild his market provided it had brick piers and a galvanized iron roof. However, he was only granted the land title for life and, upon his death in 1885, the Government took over and relocated the market. The site vacated by the original market became known as Old Market Square.

 

In 1907, AK Hubhack, Government Architect, presented to the Sanitary Board design guidelines for shop houses to be erected in the Square. This has resulted in a gracious symmetry for the Square as a whole. The three-storey shophouses are examples of ornate Neo-classical designs, as evidenced by the decorative plaster garlands, roof-top gables and balustrades. Later, two classic Art Deco structures, the Mayban Finance Berhad building and the Clock Tower, were built. The Tower was erected in 1937 to commemorate the coronation of King George VI. The sunburst motif, a common Art Deco design, is featured at the base.

 
 
 

SIN SENG NAM RESTAURANT

 

Loke Yew built this block of shophouses located at No 2?8 Medan Pasar around 1906. Designed by AK Moosdeen, the block was sometimes referred to as The Red House owing to the distinctive exposed red brick, which has since been painted over. Although designed as a whole, each shophouse fa?de is treated differently with the alternating window designs between each floor and shophouse. In 1908, the block was extended to include No 8.

 

On the Lebuh Pasar Besar side, the corner shophouse, Sin Seng Nam Restaurant, has very fine stepped Dutch gables. Note the interesting entryways where wooden bars serve as security doors and also provide ventilation. In earlier times, the restaurant was well patronized by planters and known as the Vatican.

 
 
 

THE OLD GIAN SINGH BUILDING

This corner block of buildings, along Lebuh Ampang and Jalan Tun Perak, was constructed in 1909. Built by different owners in a diversity of styles, they share a common roofline and complement one another beautifully. Look carefully at the complex plasterwork and detailing, a blend of Dutch, English and Islamic influences.

 

Tan Jit Cheuh built the shophouses facing Lebuh Ampang. Two bay windows adorn the corner of the building and a pair of occuli windows can be seen above the entrance. On Jalan Tun Perak, the central shophouses, built by Loke Yew, have recessed upper floors. Observe the curious shortened columns on the first floor above the rusticated bases.

 

Rasoolbhoy Allibhoy built the two shophouses on the right. The star and crescent motif on the central triangular pediment indicates an Islamic influence. Clan Singh, a major textile store occupied this shophouse from the 1920s onwards. In 1921, the rightmost section of the building was added to the block.

 
 
 

BANK BUMIPUTRA BUILDING

Located at the corner of Jalan Tun Perak and Jalan Melaka, this beautiful Art Deco building was designed by AO Coltman in the 1930s. Rusticated arches of the ground floor arcade follow the original curve of the road. The front fa?de has a central panel flanked by two tower-like pylons. Framing the panel is an exceptional white stucco frieze of interlocking disks.

 

Alternating vertical bands of rendered wall with elegant motifs divide the panel Originally called the Oriental Building, it housed Radio Malaya when first built. The building is an example of the links between the innovations of broadcasting and the style of Art Deco. From afar, the building resembles the early radio designs of that period.

 
 
 

LEBUH AMPANG

 

This is a vibrant area, with predominantly Indian restaurants, spice and sundry stores and money-lenders.  There are also street vendors selling fresh flower garlands.  This is a street where examples of Utilitarian, Neo-classical and Art Deco features can be seen. Shophouses No 16 - 18, built in 1930, has as Art Deco ornamentation stylized plaster peacocks between the two upper floors.

 

No 24 - 3D is a linked group of Neo-classical shophouses elaborately decorated with distinctive plaster carvings, scrolls and rooftop balustrade. Columns on the top floors divide each fa?de into two bays, with a window in each bay. No 32 - 34 are two-storey Utilitarian shophouses. The jack roof, carved wooden fanlights and the unusual butterfly grills provide ventilation.

 

Lebuh Ampang was the street of the Chettiars, a south Indian caste of money-lenders. An economic force in Kuala Lumpur?s early development, the assessment of the credit worthiness of their clients was to prove invaluable. Their role has diminished with the establishment of banks and other financial institutions.

 

An example of a Chettiar house exists at No 85, which is decorated with glazed ceramic tiles of peacock designs. The peacock is the carriage of Lord Muruga who, in his bachelor manifestation, is the Hindu deity of the Chettiar caste Inside the shophouse, the traditional low benches, chests and an old safe, are visible expressions of this activity,

 
 

JALAN TUN HS LEE

High Street, as it was first known, was one of the early streets in which the shophouses were rebuilt in brick and tiles as can seen in No 34 - 40.  These are some of the oldest two-storey traditional shophouses dating back to the mid-1880s. The walls are constructed in brick and plastered over. The original roofs have been clad over by corrugated iron or tile roofs.

These shophouses are lower than the adjacent buildings and the five-foot ways here are around 2ft (60cm) below the surface of the road. Note the strong Chinese influence in this street with many fa?des adorned with small octagonal feng shui (geomancy) mirrors. Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese belief system that teaches how to live in harmony with the positive and negative forces in the universe. The mirrors are placed there by the shop keepers or owners to repel evil spirits. The spirits see themselves in the mirror and are frightened away.

 
 
 

THE OLD FEDERAL STORE BUILDING

 

Two brothers, Chua Cheng Tuan and Chua Cheng Bok, founded the Cycle and Carriage Company in 1899 They moved to this building known as Federal Stores, located on Lebuh Pasar Besar, in 1905. The building is quite unique due in part to the fanciful fa?de with its garlic shaped finials and absence of the five-foot way. The building spans the entire block. The company was responsible for importing many of the first cars into Malaya. In 1909, when they introduced a bus service, the rickshaw pullers and gharries drivers protested against it by stoning the premises. The company had the agencies for the Monopole cycles and carriages, Albion car and Singer sewing machines. Today, Cycle and Carriage is a thriving car dealer in Malaysia and Singapore.

 
 
 

MS ALLY COMPANY

This building, located at the corner of Lebuh Pasar Besar and Jalan Tun HS Lee, was built by Yap Hon Chin in 1907. In 1910, it became known as the Federated Building as it housed the showrooms for the Federated Engineering Company. Later, Sime Darby established its Kuala Lumpur branch office here. The building is now occupied by MS Ally, which from its origins as a cigar shop to a pharmacy today, has served generations of Kuala Lumpur?s residents. The corner fa?de of the building is unusual in that the windows are asymmetrical. The Dutch-style gables create a distinctive skyline. The peacock feathers and wave curves on the triangular pediments should be noted.

 
 
 

BANK SIMPANAN BUILDING

 

No 99 Jalan Tun HS Lee is a three-storey shophouse built in 1914 in classic Palladian style. It was designed to accommodate the printing presses and provide the best natural light for typesetting, hence the wide span of the fa?de and the new larger-style Renaissance windows.  The pediment spanned the entire roofline of the three bays. The building was reputedly the largest shophouse constructed during World War 1.

 

Called the Commercial Press Building, it housed the Commercial Press and Photographic Stores. The company, established in 1908 sold wholesale photographic materials and provided printing services. The Press printed the first Chinese newspaper in Kuala Lumpur.

 
 
 

THE SZE YA TEMPLE & ENVIRONS

Following Feng Shui principles, Sze Ya Temple is set at an angle to Jalan Tun HS Lee and Lebuh Pudu. As a result of this orientation, the Temple is tucked behind the shophouses and is visually obscured. The orientation also created the unusual angle of the walls, arches and stairways of these buildings. A lane off Lebuh Pudu leads to the gate of the Sin Sze Si Sze Ya, or Sze Ya Temple.

 

Built in 1864 by Kapitan dna Yap Ab Loy as a tribute to the deities Sin Sze Ya and Si Sze Ya, it is one of the oldest and most revered Taoist temples. During the turbulent 1880s when there was frequent fighting between the Malays and Chinese, Yap Ah Loy was sent to assist Sheng Meng Li, Kapitan Cina of Sungai Ujong. When the latter died in 1862, it was popularly held that ?the blood which flowed when his head was chopped off was white and not red ...?. As a result, he was later credited with supernatural powers and associated with the powerful Cantonese god Sin Sze Va. The oracles of this deity guided Yap Ab Loy during the Selangor Civil War. Later, when Yap Ah Loy?s blood-brother and loyal lieutenant Chung Lai died, he too became deified and was known as Si Sze Ya.

 

 

Originally housed in a small atap hut, the Temple was rebuilt in 1882 in brick and Ules. It comprises a main hall and two side halls. In the main hall, the statues of Sin Sze Va and Si Sze Va are placed on the central altar. An altar to Yap Ah Loy with his photograph is on the left. Each time a worshipper makes a donation to the Temple, the brass bell and large drum along the left wall are sounded to announce the donor?s name. The hall to the right houses Kuan Yin, Goddess of Mercy, and several Buddha figurines. The left hail pays tribute to Thai Swe, Guardian of the Year, and Choi Sen, God of Wealth.   In 1904, when Yap Ah Loy?s family wanted to reclaim the land, the High Court ruled against it. A Temple Trust was then established, comprising 12 trustees representing the different Chinese clans.   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.

 
 
 
 
HERITAGE TRAILS : Market Square
KUALA LUMPUR (KL) - MALAYSIA CAPITAL