Friday, December 11, 2009
Art Noveau and Neoclassical Walk
There is so much more to Kuala Lumpur than the Petronas Twin Towers and the Sultan Abdul Samad Building! A walk through the older parts of downtown KL is a trip through history. The Art Noveau and Neoclassical buildings constructed in the pre-War years of 1900 – the 1930s have such charm and character, and tell of the glory days of Kuala Lumpur when it was a bustling hub for trade and commerce.
Unlike the largely utilitarian buildings of today, Art Noveau and Neoclassical shophouses, offices, banks and other buildings place as much importance on form and beauty as they did on function.
Art Noveau architecture generally has hyperbolas and parabolas in the windows, arches and doors, and decorative moldings inspired by nature and typically taking on the form of stylized plants, flowers, seashells, flames, insects and ribbons.
Neoclassical architecture, on the other hand, began in the mid-18th century and is principally derived from the architecture of classical Rome and Greece. Neoclassical buildings frequently make use of pillars and are evocative of ancient civilisations.
Muzium Telekom, a telecommunications museum, is housed in a Neoclassical building constructed in 1928 as a main telephone office. It is located in Jalan Raja Chulan, just down the hill from St. John’s Institution and St. John’s Church, and is open 7 days a week from 9.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m. except on public holidays. Like most Neoclassical buildings, Muzium Telekom is symmetrical in form and has tall Grecian columns that rise to the full height of the building.
The Coliseum Cinema isn’t the only Art Deco building in Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman! These Art Deco shophouses, constructed circa 1920, have incorporated ziggurats, crosses, geometrical shapes and horizontal and vertical banding into their design.
Neoclassical and Art Noveau buildings in various stages of decay line Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman. This Art Noveau beauty, constructed in 1915, could do with a facelift, especially since it is in such a conspicuous part of town.
Art Noveau shophouses in Lebuh Pudu and Medan Pasar are reminder of the decades when the area was the business and financial hub of Kuala Lumpur. These shophouses remain fully functional and now house various restaurants and textile shops. I hope they will be preserved for posterity, for what is a society that has forgotten or abjured its history?
The nature-inspired details on this Art Noveau shophouse in Lebuh Pudu are almost like something out of a storybook! If only the property owner would maintain and repair this work of art accordingly.
Jalan Tun HS Lee has Art Noveau shophouses with attractive decorative moldings. The contrasting pastel hues of each shophouse add to their charm and eclecticism.
This Art Noveau shophouse in Jalan Hang Kasturi, facing the side entrance of Central Market, juxtaposes the old and the new – It’s lower two floors houses a McDonalds restaurant!
What a difference a coat of paint makes! Art Deco shophouses adjoined to the Central Market Annexe are such a source of interest and artistic inspiration. If only all the heritage buildings in Kuala Lumpur were this well-maintained!
Thank you for taking a walk down history lane with me, and I hope you will visit again soon!