HERITAGE BUILDINGS THAT HAVE FALLEN VICTIM TO REDEVELOPMENT IN MALAYSIA’S MODERN MAKEOVER.
By Harvé Dhillon
The rapid urbanisation and construction of skyscrapers and shopping malls have been a speculation of the world as Malaysia aim’s to become a fully industrialised nation by 2020. Despite the successful perception that has blinded the West, and even Malaysian’s to an extent there has been a fundamental flaw, that has created a significant loss of historical architectural assets in the countries capital. Kuala Lumpur has established a unique identity whereby colonial shop fronts juxtapose glass towers in the background. However, hidden behind the picturesque panoramas and streetscapes we see a legacy diminish in the name of a new identity.
Designed by Swan and Maclaren, the Bok house was completed in 1929 for local millionaire Chua Cheng Bok. It was demolished in 2006 causing an outcry amongst the public and local conservation groups. However the government had claimed that it was a privately owned and not registered as a heritage building.
Despite the numerous vigils and petitions by the old girls of the school, the historic school was demolished just a few years after it celebrated its centenary to make way for KL’s latest shopping mall, The Pavilion.
Pudu Jail was built to house criminals and drug offenders in stages from 1891-1895, by then British state engineer Charles Edwin Spooner. The eastern part of Pudu Jail was demolished in June this year for a mixed development project which would include a transit centre, serviced apartments, office spaces, recreational areas, hotel and commercial spaces.
The Malaysian public needs to be conscious of how fragile heritage is and to speak up for its protection, conservation and preservation. Despite the economic success a loss of such history is creating a nation which loses a distinct and diverse history and resulting in homogenous architectural development.