Training Builders for Heritage Conservation

Text by Law Siak Hong
Photos by Lau Sook Mei

After initial contact through our committee member Charlie Choong, we finally met Ar Tan Seong Yeow and his students at UTAR Kampar. Our expectations were met; the future of building conservation has gone up one notch!

From left: Ar Tan, his students, Mohd Taib and Hong (partly hidden).

To formalize this first contact between PHS and the Engineering Faculty of UTAR, Ar Tan introduced the undergraduate course in Construction Management. The course emphasizes basic skills useful to the industry, which includes quantity surveying, technical design and hands-on skills development.

Scale model of Kampung Kepayang.

Four final-year students presented their project on the proposed rehabilitation of Kampong Kepayang, a one-street town straddling the main trunk road 9km south of Ipoh . They used well-designed storyboards, scale models and a slide show, which they took turns to comment, in English, with commendable communication skills. They proposed strengthening the existing buildings by shoring the foundation, as well as repairing the walls by ‘preferred practices’ – adopting strictly conservation guidelines. Their project involves designating adjacent land for housing and recreation, and revamping this heritage town for tourism, to benefit this small community.

Soon Juinn Yann briefing us on the project.

Chang Kok Yung...

Abandoned and left dilapidated because of vehicular traffic and air and noise pollution, Kampong Kepayang is also the subject of an art film by Hayati Mokhtar, which premiered in Singapore in July this year. With such interest, a recent announcement of the proposed demolition of the entire row on the west of the main road seems ill-considered. Would the government investigate the proposed re-alignment of the main road to save this heritage town?

Koid Chin Hooi...

...and Lee Haw Han. Well done, guys! Keep it up!

We feel encouraged that UTAR produces quality students with practical skills for building conservation. Now, if only local councils can be persuaded to compel all adaptive re-use (no mere renovation) of old buildings to employ the services of these well-trained graduates, who are surely an asset to the building industry and our efforts in building conservation.

Chilling out in the cafeteria with Ar Tan before we left.

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