Buildings we remember: Badan Warisan's archive makes available 10,000 old photos


  • Arts
  • Saturday, 12 Sep 2020

The Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall was completed in 1923. It was built in neo-classical architecture style with a prominent dome on the roof of its central hall. Photos: Badan Warisan Malaysia

Are you looking for old photographs, particularly of heritage buildings?

Badan Warisan Malaysia (The Heritage of Malaysia Trust) has over 10,000 photos, including slides, negatives and postcards made available now for purchase.

Badan Warisan Malaysia president Wei-Ling Lim says many of the photos came from the collection of the late architect Chen Voon Fee, one of the founders of the heritage institution.

After he died in 2008, all his project papers, photographs, books and more were bequeathed to Badan Warisan Malaysia’s library as specified by his estate.

His collection of photos, postcards, slides and negatives include cultural and heritage buildings across Malaysia.

“We’d like to be able to share the aesthetics and beauty of old buildings in Malaya, which contribute to our history, ” says Lim.

“This could be especially helpful to a wide range of researchers, scholars, writers, students and general heritage lovers who want an opportunity to see how a place, building or monument looked in the past and compare it to the present.

“The now and then. We want to share our built and cultural heritage with the people of Malaysia and around the world.”

Designed by AO Coltman of Booty and Edwards, this KL building was constructed in 1937. Originally known as the Anglo-Oriental building, it was later taken over by the Malaysian Mining Corporation. Architect Chen renovated the building in 1988 for use by Mahkota College.Designed by AO Coltman of Booty and Edwards, this KL building was constructed in 1937. Originally known as the Anglo-Oriental building, it was later taken over by the Malaysian Mining Corporation. Architect Chen renovated the building in 1988 for use by Mahkota College.

Badan Warisan Malaysia is a registered organisation which aims to promote the conservation and preservation of buildings and areas with historical and architectural features in Malaysia.

Chen was an award-winning architect involved with many notable heritage projects, such as Gedung Raja Abdullah and Mahkota College (also known as Wisma Ekran).

He was involved in adaptive reuse work, including part of the Majestic Hotel and Kuala Lumpur’s old art deco Central Market – a wet market that was converted into a vibrant tourist hub.

Apart from his conservation works, he was also recognised for designing public buildings such as the faculty of geology building at Universiti Malaya, the famous A&W outlet in Petaling Jaya and the modernist State Mosque in Negri Sembilan.

“We have a (photo) collection of all buildings that were designed by Chen Voon Fee. There is a photo of the opening ceremony of the iconic A&W outlet in PJ, the first drive-through restaurant in Malaysia built over 50 years ago, ” says Lim.

“There are some photos taken during Merdeka Day in 1957 which took place at the Padang Merdeka in Kelantan. However, these photos need to be confirmed by the experts for the description itself.”

A photograph of SRK St Mary's (school) in Sandakan, Sabah, no date recorded, from the Badan Warisan Malaysia collection. A photograph of SRK St Mary's (school) in Sandakan, Sabah, no date recorded, from the Badan Warisan Malaysia collection.

Along with Chen’s contributions, Badan Warisan Malaysia’s photo archive starts from the 1960s and it includes photos from other Malaysian states, and countries such as Australia, Mexico, Italy, Indonesia and Thailand.

“However, most of the photos are of buildings located in KL. There are also photos of buildings that have been demolished, such as the Eastern Hotel and Bok House, ” says Lim.

The price range is RM30 to RM500 per image. Photos with lower rates will have Badan Warisan Malaysia’s watermark (used for non-commercial purposes), while images for commercial use (high resolution) will have no watermark.

Currently, Lim says Badan Warisan Malaysia is digitising slides and negatives, and will soon begin on a series of maps and drawings.

“Currently, anyone who is searching for a specific photo can email the Badan Warisan Malaysia librarian.

“In the future, once the digital image bank platform is ready, people can view and purchase these images online, ” concludes Lim.

Badan Warisan Malaysia is located at No.2, Jalan Stonor in KL. The place is open on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10am to 4pm. A tour of its Rumah Penghulu is available at 11am and 3pm on those days.

More info here. Contact: library@badanwarisan.org.my.

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