Scholarly article on topic 'Documentation and Conservation Guidelines of Melaka Heritage Shophouses'

Documentation and Conservation Guidelines of Melaka Heritage Shophouses Academic research paper on "Social and economic geography"

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{"Historical Building" / "Melaka Shophouse" / "Building Typology" / "Building Documentation" / "Conservation Guidelines" / "Planning and Design"}

Abstract of research paper on Social and economic geography, author of scientific article — Noorfadhilah Mohd Baroldin, Shamzani Affendy Mohd Din

Abstract Melaka shophouses are now threatened by urban development which involves the conversion of the image and the changing of the urban fabric. The aim of this study was to clarify conservation issues in Melaka and involves the aspect of site and facade typology to review building design and its influence. However, the focus should not only on the building facade but should also take into the environmental factors that lead to building defect. This problem identified could be overcome by comprehensive conservation planning and design study guidelines in order to detailed articulations for conservation guidelines of Melaka Shophouse.

Academic research paper on topic "Documentation and Conservation Guidelines of Melaka Heritage Shophouses"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 50 (2012) 192 - 203

AcE-Bs 2012 Bangkok ASEAN Conference on Environment-Behaviour Studies, Bangkok, Thailand, 16-18 July 2012

Documentation and Conservation Guidelines of Melaka

Heritage Shophouses

Noorfadhilah Mohd Baroldin and Shamzani Affendy Mohd Din

Department of Building Technology & Engineering, Kulliyyah of Architecture & Environmental Design,International Islamic

University Malaysia


Melaka shophouses are now threatened by urban development which involves the conversion of the image and the changing of the urban fabric. The aim of this study was to clarify conservation issues in Melaka and involves the aspect of site and facade typology to review building design and its influence. However, the focus should not only on the building facade but should also take into the environmental factors that lead to building defect. This problem identified could be overcome by comprehensive conservation planning and design study guidelines in order to detailed articulations for conservation guidelines of Melaka Shophouse.

©20122 Published by Elsevier Ltd . Selection and peer- review under responsibility of the Centre for Environment-Behaviour Studies (cE-Bs), Faculty of Architecture, Planniug & Surveyi ng , Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia

Keywords: Historical Building; Melaka Shophouse; Building Typology; Building Documentation; Conservation Guidelines; Planning and Design.

1. Introduction

Melaka shophouse has many valued qualities, which community concern to protect and enhance its history, architecture, culture and strong sense of community. The conservation of Melaka shophouse is addressed to trace memories of the past, present and adapt for the future condition in those places.

* Noorfadhilah Mohd. Baroldin. Tel.: +6-016-278-4072; fax: +603-6196 4864. E-mail address:

1877-0428 © 2012 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and peer-review under responsibility of the Centre for Environment- Behaviour Studies (cE-Bs),

Faculty of Architecture, Planning & Surveying, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia


The city centre of Melaka which is composed of the earliest settlements is not exempted from the sustainable of development problems. This study divided into three main study zones which under observation of Majlis Bandaraya Melaka Bersejarah (MBMB). The most obvious problem is the traffic system in the study zones that caused the study zones is the main route in the city centre. Beside that, the climatic factor and community activities also led to building defects. Therefore, all these conservation issues around the study zones need model proposes of comprehensive conservation planning and design study guidelines in Melaka sector. The problems are how to develop a comprehensive planning of Melaka shophouse in Melaka city, which conserves the traditional characteristic of the district while sustaining related areas to development of the city.

The future Melaka shophouse will become a place which tells the area's history with its physical environment, serves the needs of resident social and culture activities. The objectives of the research are to propose conservation guidelines of Melaka shophouse which are sustainable to social life and visual characteristics of the district. The new comprehensive conservation planning and design study guidelines will enhance an effort to preserve the historical monument characteristic.

2. Research Background

Why does historic building and environment have a reason for conservation? Because of: Aesthetic value, Value for architectural diversity and contrast , Value for environment diversity and contrast, Value for functional diversity, Resource value, Value for continuity of cultural memory and heritage, Economic and commercial value (Fitch, 1990). Fitch (1990) and Carmona (2003) identifiy a series of levels of intervention (types of change) to historic building and environment, see table 1.

Table 1. Levels of intervention to historic building and environment

No Level of Intervention Definition

1 2 Preservation Restoration Maintaining of the artefacts in its current physical condition Returning the artefact to the physical condition it had at some previous stage of its life

3 4 Refurbishment (Conservation, consolidation) Reconstitution Physical intervention in the fabric of the building to ensure its continue performance Piece by piece re-assembly of a building, either in situ or on new site

5 6 7 8 Conversion (Adaptive reuse) Reconstruction Replication Façadism Adaptation of a buildings to accommodate a new site Recreation of vanished buildings on their original site Construction of an exact copy of an existing building Preservation of the façade of an historic building, with a new building behind it Demolition and clearance with new development on the site

9 Demolition and redevelopment

3. The Study

The aim of this study was to clarify the conservation issues in Melaka and the aspects of building typologies should be considered as a whole and in detail. (Abdul Aziz Deraman, 1975). This aspect involves the study of the façade typology of the site and the environment culture to review building

characteristic. In the exercise of early conservation work, the focus should not only on the facade of the building but should also take into the cultural and social environment factors that lead to building defect.

In addition, this study also demonstrates a connection between factors of history; architecture and culture are interrelated and should not be ignored in the course of conservation work. This is consistent with what was stated by David, GS (1992) that architecture is a testament to the touch, mergers and changes in culture and evidence of changes in social organization, politics and religion. Architecture is also linked to patterns of behaviour and world views that includes aspects of cosmology (Timmons, 1976).

The study zone is one of the oldest city areas in Malaysia and has a history that traces back to the Melaka Sultanate. It is located in a strategic location in the heart of the Melaka city. It can be seen from the study zone shows rapid development which plays an important role in the development of the city itself.

Fig. 1 Study zone.

3.1. Zone 1.

Zone 1 is separated by Sungai Melaka. However, there are two bridges linking the two areas, namely the Bridge and Chan Koon Cheng Tan Kim Seng Bridge. The area is also the starting point for tourists before the track of other streets around the town of Melaka. 'Red Square' at the region's major tourist attractions with the availability of historical buildings from the Dutch as Stadhuys, Church of Christ and the Church of St.Francis Xavier.

• Laksamana Road. This road is between the streets of the busiest in the city of Melaka as it is a one way street and vehicles from the Road and Lorong Hang Jebat Treasurer will use this road to get to Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, Jalan Hilir Kota and Jalan Bandar. Admiral Road would go to the 'Dutch Square' which is an open field with fountains and statues at the tower at its center.

• Gereja Road. Part of this road has been closed to vehicles and reserved for pedestrians only.

3.2. Zone 2.

• Tun Tan Cheng Lock Road (Heeren Street). At the time, the road is known as the 'Heeren Street' or the Dutch-English translation means "First Class Gentlemen Street '. Roads are still maintaining the

character of existing residential areas and buildings in the area inherited architecture of high value. This road is the most popular way of travel for the unique architecture coupled with the variety of activities along with the availability of Baba Nyonya Museum, eateries and shops selling hand craft. These roads are one-way road and the width of the course is only 4 meters and the width is increased to 6 to 7 meters in the middle of the road. At the time, the road is known as the 'Heeren Street' or the Dutch-English translation means "First Class Gentlemen Street '. These roads are still maintained as a residential area and the characters of buildings in the region inherited a high architectural value. This road is the most popular way for travellers to add unique architectural diversity of activities along with the availability of Baba Nyonya Museum, eateries and shops selling hand craft. This road is a roadway, and the width of the course is only 4 meters and the width was increased from 6 to 7 meters in the middle way.

3.3. Zone 3

• Hang Jebat Road (Jonker Street, Young Noblemens Street). In the past, this road is known as the Straat Jongker which means 'Young Noblemens Street'. This area is occupied by the superiors of the Dutch people and the Baba Nyonya and is the focus of traders at the time. This road is also the main route to the chariot of the Dutch, and British.

• Hang Kasturi Road. Known as the 'Second Cross Street, there are premises that are still maintained craft activities like making cane. Tourists are seldom the way tap in the street activity is more focused on business and residential.

• Hang Lekir Road. Known as the 'Fourth Cross Street, has a short way and mostly residential premises.

• Hang Lekiu Road. Known as the 'Third Cross Street, Kampung Kling Mosque's wall located next to the road provides an interesting effect on this route

4. Research Methodology

Information gathering stage of the study area was divided into two parts; the first one is a study of the historical background, and the second is the establishment of the city centre. It includes an introduction and understanding to the study of Melaka town itself. It is more about the history of the early commencement of the Melaka city and its development as one of the key areas that contribute to the formation of the historic city of Melaka. The facts that influence the development of the study zones and patterns of change will also be distributed as the basis for the study zones. (A Ghafar Ahmad, 1997)

In conducting this review, the review will only cover an area which has been gazetted by the Melaka City Council as the history of the area of the old city of Melaka. The buildings of the selected studies will be the Melaka shophouses which are in variation of style:

• Dutch style 1600-1700

The Dutch style is the earliest type and can only be found in Melaka, mainly on Heeren Street. Originally built by the Dutch in the 17th century these types of shop houses and town houses are either one or two storey height with simple façade design with limited openings on the upper floor, normally with only one centralized or at the most two symmetrical windows. The ground floor are mostly now being used as residential rather than shops, with symmetrical façade design of centralized door and two side windows. The sidewalk is not connected to the adjacent buildings therefore this type of buildings have private entrance porch. Structurally the walls are of Dutch-brick and plastered with lime, roof structure is of timber.

• Southern China style 1700-1800

The Chinese population in Malaysia generally and in Melaka particularly, mainly came from Southern China. Like for the Baba Nyonya Museum at Heeren Streets, the architectural tradition followed was a modified version of the 'Chinese National' or Northern Style. This architecture embodies the spiritual notion of harmony with nature. This is manifested in the symbolism of the ornaments that are used to convey luck, directions, seasons, the winds and constellations. Structurally the walls are of the brick and plastered with lime, the roof structure is of timber.

• Early Shop house style 1800-1900

The early form of two storey type of shop houses is built to the street edge with recessed ground floor forming a pedestrian walkway, generally simple in detail and relatively low in scale. With masonry dividing wall, they are normally built in rows with simple pitched roof. The façade is a means of filling the space between the two and walls. The upper floor façade supported by squat pillars project over the pedestrian walkway, and consists mostly of timber construction with continuous row of paneled or louvered shutters. The spandrel is either timber (for the earlier type) or masonry while the upper beam is generally placed directly above the window opening, leaving no room for frieze and with exposed roof rafters forming an overhang and simple fascia board. The upper floor façade is bordered by plain masonry pilasters at each side and the ground floor has full width opening. Structurally, buildings of this style incorporate masonry dividing walls with timber upper floor and tiled roof.

• Early Transitional Style 1840-1900

The two storeys structures are built to the street edge and incorporate a sidewalk pedestrian which is well entranced in the style of the nineteenth century. Expressive gable ends to rows. Ornamentation is minimal with the upper consoles often enlarged and simple decorated with floral motifs. Green glazed ceramic vents and plain pilasters. The usual orders are the Tuscan and Doric, upper floor openings with a row continuous timber shutter are common. Cornices or horizontal mouldings along the beam make the structure appear heavy. Structurally, buildings of this style incorporate the use of masonry dividing walls with timber upper floor, tile roof and timber beam.

• Early Strait Eclectic Style 1890-1920

The early Strait Eclectic Style is characterized by buildings with relatively restrained use of ornaments on its façade. Doors and windows remain predominantly timber framed and shuttered although the use of glass in small plates on the shutters later became common. Transoms are flat arched or semicircular in filled with glass. Vents are employed with an elegance of economy, architectural composition as squares or diamond between windows. Ground floor masonry wall have symmetrical double doors, a pair of window and bat shape vents above. The style incorporates many of the features of the 'grand' classical style, reinterpreted and adopted to suit the shop houses vernacular may include pediments, pilasters, keystones and arches. From 1910's the use of reinforced concrete allowed wide roof overhangs and more elaborate cantilevered concrete decoration (consoles). This style exhibits almost exclusively a bipartite elevation with two windows. Structurally, buildings of this style incorporate extensive use of masonry with the introduction of reinforced concrete lintels and beams, timber upper floor and tiled roofs.

• Late Straits Eclectic Style 1920-1940

This is the most spectacular style particularly in the use of ornamentation. The tripartite arrangement of three windows on the façade reduces the actual wall space to the minimum and provides maximum ventilation. In later example, the wall surface is replaced by columns or pilasters framing the windows. The constrained indigenous façade design borrowed freely from the various ethnic traditions. Chinese panel frescoed are often combined with Malay timber fretworks that fringe the cape of the roof. Brightly colour ceramic tiles and plaster delicately moulded into bouquets, festoons, plagues and other elaborate ornamentation bear testimony to the artistry of the shop houses builders. The development of reinforced concrete in the 1910's enabled large spans to be achieved and elaborate cantilevered details to be

incorporated into facades. Structurally, buildings of this style incorporate extensive use of masonry with first floor timber fenestration and tiled roof.

• Art Deco style 2930-2950

Art Deco is a decorative style widely used between the 1930's and 1950's. The style is characterized by the use of straight lines (typically three parallel) arranged either vertically or horizontally in conjunction with other geometric elements, creating a strong vertical or horizontal emphasis to the structure. A granulated render adapted from and regionally known as 'Shanghai Plaster' was introduced at this time and was commonly utilized. The exuberant classical decoration of earlier style became much more restrained and in many cases was stripped completely. Windows are arranged in groups rather than the typical three bays commonly observes in the earlier shop houses style (casement shuttersf. Highlighting the date of construction on the facade of the building as well as the use of metal frame windows is typical of this period of architecture. Structurally, buildings of this style are or reinforced concrete masonry rendered or Shanghai plastered. Development or reinforced concrete resulted in cantilevered sunshades and high pediment or parapet wall.

• Early Modern style 2950-2990

Following the development in western art and architecture from the end of the 29th century to its pinnacles in the 1920's and 1930's, it actually embraces a wide variety of movements, theories, and attitudes whose modernity resides in a common tendency to repudiate past architecture. Walter Gropius, Le Corbusier, Miss Van de Rohe was the important figures in the general trend towards a radically ornamented, simplified approach to architectural style was built with reason, form by character and the aesthetic quality of which came from the simplicity of their form. The abstract relationship of solid surfaces and large, clean cut openings rather than from applied ornament or decoration. The trend soon caught up in the country after the war. Although in moving design away from the quaint and craftsmanship, local influences were not disregarded but were adapted to form a unique modern style. Structurally, the buildings of this style use reinforced concrete

1840 1860

Fig. 2 Typology of Melaka shophouse.

5. Findings

5.1. Conservation Issues in the Study Zones.

The city center of Melaka, which is composed of the earliest settlements are not exempt from the sustainable of development problems. The areas around the building are being actively led the study zones under pressure. In addition, earliest shophouses left dilapidated and threatened. Most of the dilapidated building is made up of houses owned by individuals who rent stores. Tenants are not interested in maintaining a rented building as any interest on such buildings (Touru, 1989).

The example in Fig 3 indicates that the owner did not want to rent out their buildings, but let old age consumption. Once the building is no longer safe for occupancy, they would demolish the building for replacement of new buildings. Apart from the demolition, the old shophouses have also been through many phases of change in the facade of the building and spatial layout.

Fig. 3 This is an example of dilapidated shop house façade at Laksamana street.

Transfer of ownership since the Dutch era so far has caused lots of broken shop is split into lots of smaller ones. By the year 1900, the shop houses have been given new numbers as a result of the division of land into lots smaller. The layout of the interior are sometimes modified to suit the ability, willingness and readiness of the owner and indirectly affect the depth of the changes in lifestyle, culture and social system that has long been built. The layout of internal spaces should be preserved and renovated so that future generations can see the lifestyle and culture in the past.

Changing the function of residential buildings to store also has caused many changes were made not only to the interior layout, but also to the facade of the shop houses. Front facade demolished and replaced with a larger opening to allow the building functions as a store run. Changes to the facade and layout of space will pollute the original purpose of the building is retained. With the passage of time is also changing the role of shop houses.

Building owners no longer live in their homes but rent the shop. Tenants doing business activities on the ground floor while upstairs was rented to someone else. Usually the upper chamber is divided into smaller rooms for rent. This leads to overcrowded conditions and the level of cleanliness is the main problem. Fig 4 shows that renovation or new construction is not directly related to the scale, context, and the characters surrounding buildings. Design continuity between the old and new units is ignored. This makes the new building seems to stand by itself and appear awkward in their own environment.

Fig. 4 The Renovations without regarded on the building characteristic make the façade seem lost their history.

The absence of integration of design particularly between the development of modern and old buildings are crippling the identity of this historic area. As a result, the uniqueness of the shop house in the old city of Melaka began missing and the town of Melaka had been forced to accept the new design elements that are less suitable and not harmonious. Placing the air conditioner unit on the front facade without thinking too much about facade style can be seen at shop house in Melaka as illustrated in Fig 5. The effect of the placement of air conditioning unit is crippled without control of the building facade.

Fig. 5 Placing uncontrolled air conditioner also can lead to building defect.

Sometimes the building façade added to the height of three storey and this causes the original scale were changed and the height of the building is no longer uniform. The front facade was retained and not changed, but additions are made on the back of the building. Height of the rear of the building had been added up to three levels. This change is not significant if we look at the front of the building but the reality is that the interior has been thoroughly renovated and has changed the architectural character of the building indirectly by the addition and renovation of this building material was introduced, see Fig 6.

Fig. 6 The Height Changes of the Shop House Façade Make the View is No Longer Uniform.

This addition is also if not addressed by experienced professionals will lead to a dangerous structure. The matter is due to the additional burden imposed on the original structure. Increase in height will also prevent the flow of air into the interior of the building. Quality ventilation of old shophouses that rely heavily on air wells are affected (Bill, 1997).

Fig. 7 Illustration Shows Bird Nest on the Ceiling of Shop House That Can Let to Building Defect.

Another big problem of shophouses in Melaka is the home owner of the shop itself as a place of swallows to nest as illustrated in Fig 6. The area identified is in the vicinity of Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, Jalan Hang Jebat, Sheep Street and Upper Village area. Action to make this building a kite bird nest are driven by high demand for bird's nest and it is a matter of export to Singapore, Hong Kong and China. The price of up to RM22, 000.00 per kg, the other owner - building owners are willing to make shop building as a bird nest (Nordic World Heritage Office, 2999f. The act of making the house as a place to store swift let nests have been invited to make noise, dirty and making a threatening environment. This situation, if allowed to continue would cause us to lose a more important legacy.

6. Implication

Due to the threats of the old shophouses is continuing without interruption, the researcher felt that it is her responsibility to conduct more in-depth study on this subject. It is feared that without documentation, and specific studies, the old shophouses will disappear and will be history. Efforts to prevent the disposal

should be intensified for the values of history and architectural heritage can be preserved. Documentation is one way to ensure that the architecture of the shophouses was preserved.

The findings indicate that the practice of conserving the old shophouses by Majlis Bandaraya Melaka Bersejarah (MBMB) is still not effective. A more effective measure in preserving the old shophouses needs to be undertaken. The findings of the exploratory survey prompt the author to discover the unseen causes in the erosion of the old shophouses. The main focus of this on-going research is concerned with the perception of the users towards the heritage value of the old shophouses. Hopefully, the outcome would shed some light to MBMB party on the ineffectiveness of the conservation of the Melaka shophouses.

7. Recommendation

Conservation planning and design study guidelines of study zones are very important to commemoration of the building and environment histories in the past. The development of the guidelines has to be maintained for a long time, where it is good planning and sustainable. Not only the factor of potentials but also need to plan several actions. There are many aspects in determine the planning and design guidelines of heritage building especially for building conservation when it is involving the authority guidelines and approval as their scope to control the development around their zone. Conserving a historic building is not only preserving the material but also the identity, historical and aesthetic value of the building itself.

Table 2. The Propose New Conservation Planning and Design Guidelines in Melaka.

No Potentials Value Action Focus Action

1 Visual / Physical factor / Aesthetic value Heritage Building Preservation Building height_

conservation planning and Building material

design study guideline Building characteristic

Front façade And back lanes

Deterioration factor (Physical, chemical and biological factor)_

Value for architectural diversity and contrast Public Realm Improvement Convenient Intensity and Development Structural stability of adjacent conserved buildings

Value for environment diversity and contrast Linkage to the nearby neighbourhood Zoning area Outside zoning Boundary wall Land use - owner

Resource value Transportation and pedestrian comfort (avoid traffic congestion) Pavement Car parking

A sense of security (focus on safety pedestrian access at back lane) Mechanical / Electrical Local people and tourist safety

2 Socio-cultural factor Value for continuity of cultural memory and heritage Commemoration of Melaka shop houses and formation history of Melaka

3 Economic factor Economic and Attraction for tourists and Direct grand to building

commercial value community activity owner

A community with a residential and commercial mixture Tax relief and taxing beneficiaries

Direct action by local


Value for function Diversified retail for goods and

diversity services

4 Training building conservator Value of Building Public Connection and Transference of

/ expert Characteristic community Development development right

Fig. 8 (a) Example of conservation planning design to avoid traffic congestion and encourage pedestrian. (b) Example proposal for pedestrian travel at the back lanes of the shophouses to create calm and safety environment to the local people and tourist.

The character of the Melaka town is more frequently described by the architectural style and urban form. Roy (1970) stated that the planning design is only a part of element but it stimulates the eye and human spirits through the perceptual pattern by taking an example from other places such as Italian cities. Their urban area was designed with a sense of the significance of order and sensitive to the perceptual patterning using a colour role like Venice, Rome, Firenze and Bologna; where they are uniquely formed and distinctively calm, while vividly expressing the character and culture of its people.

8. Conclusion

Sustainable development of conservation of study zones needs comprehensive planning and design. The conservation planning and design study Act and regulation are important to be developed in order to pressure for conservation. It includes:

• Conservation Act of motivated potential development to the study zone.

• Act of zoning activity and culture that is related to bind to historical building characteristic.

• Role of contributor from all of sector; planners and designers, private society to determine the conservation policy, local people and tourist.

• Contribution Act to professional conservator and contractor.

Melaka shophouses are historic heritage which have unique characteristic in Melaka. The fast economic growth challenges for the changes of physical environment and human behaviour which are usually based on an economic orientation. In addition, there are new developments in Melaka. These affect the old shophouse and their history may be lost. The old shophouses are being changed: people modify them, breed bird nests, ignore architecture characteristic and abandon them. Conservation is

needed. This problem identified could be overcome and contribute MBMB party by comprehensive conservation planning and design study guidelines of the study zones.


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