University of Malaya - National University of Singapore

UM-NUS Joint Architecture Study


The University of Malaya and National University of Singapore recently held a joint architecture study of Ipoh for 20 students, 10 from each university, who stayed in Ipoh for two weeks. Named the ‘UM-NUS Joint Studio Programme 2012’, this programme has been ongoing for several years with an earlier programme covering Taiping in 2010.

University of Malaya - National University of Singapore

According to Mr Roland Sharpe Flores, Visiting Senior Fellow, School of Design Environment, NUS Department of Architecture, the programme allows students to be exposed to the methodologies of historical documentation and analyses of places and buildings.

University of Malaya - National University of Singapore

Additionally, it enables its students to engage with the town’s residents as part of its cultural study segment.

Flores explained that Ipoh was selected as “it had a significant stock of shop houses with its historic core fairly intact”, and its development was historically significant referring to the Great Fire that destroyed many parts of old town.

Unlike Old Town which was developed organically with some blocks having different sized shop lots, New Town that emerged after the fire, was a planned modern development that featured wider roads and alleyways to provide for fire breaks and services.

(l-r) Students Joel Tay (NUS), Syakirin (UM), Ishaq (UM), Serene Wong (NUS),Hafiz (UM)

For the students, their two week stint here was an eye opener where they noted a variety of architectural styles. All of the students interviewed described their two week stint as “an enriching study experience”.

A point noted by all the participants was that preserving one’s heritage is always a good practice especially for the next generation. Flores gave advice saying that “whenever a new preservation was happening, to publicise it so that more restoration can occur”.

The students, who were also taken on a tour of Kuala Kangsar (KK) by Perak Heritage Society VP Law Siak Hong, also found KK very interesting saying “there is so much to see”.

Is there a ‘niche market’ for architectural tours here?


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One thought on “UM-NUS Joint Architecture Study

  1. Most assuredly there are terrific architectural tours of Ipoh, the towns of the Kinta Valley, and numerous Perak towns and kampongs. In recent years, books on our built and social heritage have appeared even as important landmarks disappear.

    However, more effort has to be ploughed into understanding the legacy of buildings and the context in which they have existed. Heritage lives on. Understand the social environment in which Ipoh was built and you will get close to appreciate fully every building which remains standing, even though which have vanished.

    But not all important buildings are about their architecture. Walls speak, smell and they can tell wonderful stories of the people who inhabited these spaces. They are stories waiting to be told, the stuff to pass on to the future generations. And it is our responsibility to collect these memories, in any form, while they live among us.

    The Exhibition of the UM-NUS Joint Studio Project IPOH 2012 is now on at the NUS Museum in Singapore. With your financial support, it can be brought to Ipoh.

    There are lots of you out there who sincerely care for your hometown heritage. If you feel strongly about preserving our built environment and want to contribute to the organisation of the exhibition, please contact Mohd Taib Mohamed or Law Siak Hong at the Perak Heritage Society.

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