The much-anticipated soft launch of the book entitled, “Iversen – Architect of Ipoh and Modern Malaya” written by the great architect’s daughter, Ruth Iversen Rollitt, was held on Sunday, March 22 at the Sarang Paloh Event Hall, Ipoh.
The event was organised by Areca Books, Penang with the tacit support of Perak Heritage Society. It was attended by nearly a hundred guests consisting of professionals, laymen, students and members of the press.
Khoo Salma, President of Penang Heritage Trust, was the emcee. Renowned writer and sometime historian, Abdur-Razzaq Lubis officiated at the launch. In his opening remarks Razzaq spoke on the importance of protecting our heritage, be it buildings or culture or traditions, as they reflect and identify our past.
Perhaps more than any other architect of his generation, Berthel Michael Iversen introduced modern architecture to Malaya. Arriving in Malaya in 1928, the young Danish architect worked for KL-based Booty & Edwards and then Keys & Dowdeswell before moving to Ipoh.
From his award-winning Federal House to the landmark Loke Yew Building, Iversen’s buildings have remained icons of Malaysia’s modernist architecture. He designed over 38 cinemas for the Shaw Brothers and the Cathay Organisation. In Ipoh, he was involved in the building of the Grand Hotel, Mercantile Bank, the Lam Looking Bazaar, Ipoh Swimming Club and the Lido cinema, to name a few. His legacy and works are recorded in this delightful and readable book by his beloved daughter.
Ruth, expressed her delight at the overwhelming response and described the protagonist as “a wonderful father and a good husband to my mother” in her speech. The audience was given a preview of the book and the golden opportunity of getting their copies signed by the author.
When asked on the hardest thing about writing her first book, Miss Ruth replied, “It wasn’t hard because I loved it so much. I got so much help to turn it into a book because, as I’ve said earlier, my love for my father was so great. Moreover, I’ve all the materials, letters, photographs and sketches. I just have to put them together. So it’s a joy.”
And this is her advice for aspiring writers, “Patience and a good team to help.”
The hardcover book is priced at RM120 and is available at all major bookstores throughout the country.