Fresh chapter opens for building

VIPs taking a group photo outside the George Town World Heritage Incorporated building at the junction of Lebuh Carnarvon and Lebuh Acheh, Penang.

THE eclectic-style George Town World Heritage Incorporated (GTWHI) office in Penang will soon be transformed into a heritage education and experiential centre.

Situated at the junction of Lebuh Carnarvon and Lebuh Acheh, the building will remain as the GTWHI office but upgrading work is underway to incorporate the additional facilities.

Komtar assemblyman Teh Lai Heng, who is GTWHI director, said the rescue, restoration and rejuvenation project costing an estimated RM1.6mil would be completed by mid-2021.

“Upon completion, the centre will be enlightening visitors on sustainable and holistic heritage conservation and management,” said Teh during a restoration ceremony at the building on Saturday.

“This project will rectify misaligned roof trusses, repair cracks on the walls and relieve the load stress on the walls.

“It will experiment on aeration modules to combat dampness, a common problem faced by heritage buildings in George Town.

“The airwell in the building will be reinstated to allow for natural lighting throughout the building.

“Floodgates and active fire-fighting facilities such as fire- resistant doors and a sprinkler system will be installed.

“Energy-efficient lighting and air-conditioning systems will also be introduced.”

Teh delivered the opening remarks on behalf of Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.

He said the building was designed by one of the earliest known Straits Chinese architects, Chew Eng Eam, as the Universal Pharmacy in 1921.

Chew also designed the Loke Thye Kee building, Majestic Theatre and the Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce building which have similarities that could be observed for restoration purposes.

The GTWHI building served as the Penang Heritage Centre before it was used as the GTWHI office from 2010.

GTWHI general manager Dr Ang Ming Chee said the organisation’s experience as the site manager for the George Town Unesco World Heritage Site prompted them to find sustainable conservation methods.

“We will be brave and yet mindful in experimenting with new methodologies to address common defects faced by heritage buildings in George Town.

“The problems include roof leaks, structural cracks, high levels of dampness on walls, dilapidated wall plasters and rotten timber.

“The whole restoration process will be documented on video and shared with the local community and heritage conservation professionals upon completion of the project,” she said.

Ang thanked the sponsors besides inviting potential sponsors to contact GTWHI and join the new chapter of heritage building restoration.

The project’s consultation team head architect Tan Bee Eu led a site visit.

Among those exploring the building were Pengkalan Kota assemblyman Daniel Gooi, state secretariat general administration and security department senior

assistant secretary Ambika Devi Daran and Penang Island City Council heritage conservation department architect Fazreen Dharleila Abdul Jalil.

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