1st Prize in FutureNow Competition 2020, Tubądzin Design Awards
Revival of Heritage Shophouses through Intervention of Light
Western colonialism in Malaysia spanned over 100 years had left various typologies of colonial-style architecture across the heritage cities, which is now an exquisite historical legacy of the country, an emblem of collective memories. Shophouses are one of the common typologies that were once being the pulse of daily living, but currently many are being left empty or lost its essence within the midst of ever-changing transformation. While acknowledging the identity and existence of these historical archetype, yet intrigued by the notion of adaptive reuse and urban heritage regeneration- the project started off by posing question: ‘What if the shophouses are able to gain a second life instead of being an empty shell for the sake of conservation?’
Daylight as a crucial natural element in tropical architecture, playing important roles in passive design, personal well-being and sensational experience. Falls under tropical climate, Malaysia is blessed with abundance of daylight all year round. By altering existing structures and bringing in natural lighting, this project re-imagines the adaptive reuse of shophouses through the intervention of daylight. This process attempts to grant the old buildings with new purpose and adaptation to the contemporary context and environment, considering most of the typical shophouses are designed in enclosed and deep layout which forbids daylight and openness.
In order to revitalize the shophouses, they are re-purposed as local museum that documenting the memories of township and communities, and daylight will become part of the interpretive essentials. This project proposes the programmatic intervention through the converge between local museum, historical gallery, cottage industry workshop and retails, event spaces, community cinema, small-scale library and coffee shop etc. The programmatic complex complement one another to grow a community within the deteriorating structure, regenerate its architectural purposes to be alive again.
As an urban restoration project, the design intent to give subtle touch of change without sacrificing the essence of heritage sensation. The original structures are intervened through the implementation of features like courtyard, chimney, channel, perforation, fenestration, gap and so on. These adaptations for daylight interpret various attributes of light, augmenting the texture of architecture, sensitivity of exhibited content and duality between light and shadow. It elevates daylight as a speculative character of the museum, acting as a guiding path or a journey of experience, that leads the audiences to discover and unfold the story lies within the architecture. This approach retains the exterior image of heritage fabric, but hopefully infills new spirit within the interior spaces.
In this project, daylight is being conveyed and signified as a poetic resolution in reviving the soul of traditional shophouses, while giving diverse characters that shape a journey within the walls. Accompanied with the newly introduced programmes, the natural light shall rejuvenate a new life to these seemingly dying architecture, providing nourishment to elongate their lifespan and empowering their endeavors upon the rapid urbanization and modernism- realizing the meanings through ‘Light of Revival’.