The Star Online, October 28, 2007
INTERNATIONAL Real Estate Federation (FIABCI) Malaysia sees itself playing the lead role to interna-tionalise the country's real estate sector and attract more foreign investors to Malaysia.
According to FIABCI Malaysia president Datuk Richard Fong, the organisa-tion has been in active discussion with the Economic Planning Unit to set up a centralised coordinating body to plan and coordinate international property promotions and road shows in target markets in the Middle East, South Korea and Japan.
The government wants FIABCI Malaysia to come out with a blueprint to achieve its objectives to to make Malaysia an international property destination.
In July, Datuk Ser Effendi Norwawi, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, announced the Government’s plan to set up a matching grant of RM50Mil each between the Government and private sector for international promotions.
Fong said the plan to attract RM20bil worth of foreign direct investments for properties in the next five years would help stimulate the property industry and 140 other industries that are directly related to the industry.
This was obvious from the growing number of Malaysian winners at the FIABCI International Prix d’Excellence, an annual competition of the world’s best projects.
Tan Sri Francis Yeoh, Managing Director of YTL Corp Group is pleased to win these two awards.
He said, "I am pleased that our contribution to the arts is now well recognised. Our commitment to build a better community instead of just homes is equally appreciated. I thank all involved and I applaud their passion in these successes. Most of all I thank our Lord Jesus for this blessing. He deserves the glory.”
The Star Online, October 28, 2007
OLD is gold. Given a twist, it can take on a whole new life as in the case of the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac).
What was formerly an old, rundown engineering workshop used by Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd had been turned into a space for performing arts.
The old is married with the new; the transformation is simply stunning.
Every cloud has a silver lining
The flash flood on June 10, 2003 destroyed The Actors Studio complex in Plaza Putra below Dataran Merdeka and left the founders, Datuk Faridah Merican and Joe Hasham, scouting for another location.
They soon heard about the site in Sentul. After seeing the place, they knew that it was perfect and wrote to YTL Corp Bhd managing director Tan Sri Francis Yeoh. Later, they met and presented their plan for a performing arts venue in the city.
Yeoh, who has a passion for arts, shared the couple's vision and told them to “go for it”.
KLPac’s founding partners were Yayasan Budi Penyayang, YTL Corp and The Actors Studio.
The concept was a creative adaptation of the old and original to one that transcended history and culture.
In order to keep as much of the original structure intact, brick walls of the workshop was preserved. Then, a modern, four-storey steel and glass structure that provides functional and aesthetic spaces was incorporated into the old structure.
In fact, some materials of the former workshop unearthed on site were retained as part of the theatre design, said KLPac theatre manager Teoh Ming Jin.
“We wanted a raw finish to the building, which is true to its form. The cracks on the floor, for example, added to the authenticity of KLPac,” he explained.
The pre-mix flooring was unconventional. Heavy-duty tarmac was used for indoor use and required no maintenance.
In Pentas 1, a strap of old zinc roof ran around the wall above the stage. The side walls bore timber blocks in various sizes and PVC pipes were used to enhance acoustics and add to the aesthetics of the theatre space.
By reusing buildings and natural materials, the embodied energy was retained, making the project much more environmentally sustainable than entirely new constructions. The old trees and vegetation that matured with the old building was retained and preserved. Lighting, sound and rigging were designed with practicality, user-friendliness and quality in mind.
Teoh said KLPac reflected an innovative use of building materials within a very tight budget and timeframe.
“The entire project cost RM30mil and was completed in 15 months (plan, design, construct and build),” he said, adding that the 11-month construction period was considered extremely quick.
In comparison, Istana Budaya, which had almost the same capability, cost approximately RM250mil.
Decision making between teams also contributed to the success of KLPac, said Teoh. It involved theatre people designing for theatre people, besides architects and contractors.
Teoh said: “We knew exactly what we wanted, the vision was there and we stuck to it.”
A showcase of adaptive reuse
Besides being honoured by FIABCI Malaysia in the Malaysia Property Award 2007 in the Special Award for National Contribution category, KLPac had won the Persatuan Arkitek Malaysia award in 2006 for the adaptive re-use category for its creative blending of old and new architecture.
Adaptive reuse is a process that changes a disused or ineffective item into a new item to serve a different purpose. Sometimes, nothing changes but the item’s use.
Successful built adaptive reuse projects are those that best respect and retain the building’s significance and add a contemporary layer that provides value for the future.
Not only are performances held in KLPac, it also hosts other events such as product launches and dance events.
“A whole lot of new people are coming to use the space, “ Teoh said.
Cutting edge design
THE Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac) seemed to have struck a chord among the judges in the final round. When asked which of the projects stood out in this year's submission for the FIABCI Malaysian Property Award, the answer was simply KLPac.
Star Publications (M) Bhd group editorial education advisor Datuk Ng Poh Tip said KLPac stood out this year because it was more than a commercial development.
"It has enhanced the cultural life of Kuala Lumpur and has given the performing arts a much-needed boost. Kuala Lumpur has become livelier with its existence," she said.
Ng added that KLPAC richly deserved the award. "We need more of such projects in the country," she said. Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers vice president Tan Sri Clifford Herbert said KLPac was very well done because the developer took an existing project and turned it into something that people can appreciate.
"I think developers should take more effort in conserving old buildings, What YTL did is really an example of how you can completely enhance an old building's facade, keeping some things intact but adding a new dimension of modern architecture," he added.
Tradewinds Corp Bhd chairman Datuk Seri Megat Najmuddin Khas felt KLPac was very interesting and deserved an award because it had transformed the whole environment of Sentul as well as perception of Sentul among the city's population.
"Sentul used to be known as the workshop for KTM. "Subsequently, it earned the dubious reputation of being a gangster's haven. Because of KLPac, people's perception of Sentul has become a bit more positive," he said.
Megat Najmuddin said KLPac had done well and would continue to do well. "For KLPac, the design, theatre and acoustic are very leading edge and among the best in the country now," he added.
Facilities at KLPac
- Academy with 6 studios - for rehearsals and training
- Sound recording studio - for sound recording
- Pre-function foyer
- Backtage bar - serving of drinks during intermission
- IndiCine - for independent filmmakers
- Academy foyer - waiting area for parents
- 3 studios - for rehearsals and training
- Administration Office
- Technical training/rehearsals studio - for tests on lighting and rehearsals.
- Box office- for ticketing and enquiries
- Main foyer, cafe and bar
- Set construction workshop - for audience to watch art at work
- Pentas 1: Proscenium theatre (504 seats)
- Pentas 2: Experimental theatre (200 seats)
- Green room - for artistes to prepare and rest before shows
- Wardrobe room, laundry room, merchandise counter, resource centre, surau
- Workshop loading bay - for loading of props, etc to theatres
- Lift serving ground to second floor - access for public and convenience to the disabled
- 400 parking bays (outdoors)
The Star Online, October 28, 2007
By Chan Ching Thut
Revived and renewed. Such is the lot of Sentul. Deriving its name from the Sandoricum koetjape tree (a fast-growing, upright-trunk tree which can grow up to 150 feet), Sentul may not have conjured much of a positive image for property buyers over a decade ago.Part of it was due to the area's image (railway workshops and downtrodden) and stigma (poor and crime-infested) and to a certain extent, the lack of private housing development.
As YTL Land & Development Bhd executive director Datuk Yeoh Seok Kian aptly put it: "Nobody wanted to know about Sentul. It had such a bad reputation." Nevertheless, the company, through its subsidiary Sentul Raya Sdn Bhd went ahead and took over a stalled project.
The developer aims not only to renew its physical environment and wealth but also to renew its community, their access to local services and relationship with the area. Yeoh acknowledged that Sentul was one of YTL's most ambitious projects in terms of size and complexity. It was not a very good area but challenges are what YTL always thrives on. We pride ourselves on being able to rejuvenate abandoned places, he said.
A second lease of life
The development of Sentul has been a bumpy journey stretching way back to the mid-1990s.
In 1995, Taiping Consolidated Bhd, in a joint venture with Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd, launched what was to be the city's largest urban development to rejuvenate Sentul from a poor suburb to modern, colourful and energetic enclave.
Known as Sentul Raya, the project was hit by the Asian financial crisis in 1997/98 and was deferred. Faced with financial difficulty, Taiping Consolidated went through a restructuring exercise, which resulted in YTL Corp Bhd buying over its assets and taking over the company.
It was subsequently renamed YTL Land & Development. A change of name was mulled, said Yeoh.
"But we thought we should stick to Sentul; it is a name of a tree. We will build it up and hopefully, it will turn to something that everybody will love," he added.
The Sentul Master Plan
In the original plan, the Sentul Raya development included 380-unit highcost and 774-unit medium cost apartments as well as a nine-hole golf course and 68 units of shoplots. When YTL took over, the project became simply known as Sentul and the plan was revised. The golf course was the first to go, to be replaced by a private park. That did not go down well with the property buyers but Yeoh argued that more people could enjoy the use of a park.
"The whole area has great potential because there are some old buildings that are very historical and have very strong architectural features. We turned one of the engineering workshops into the Kuala Performing Arts Centre (KLPac)," he said, adding that some of the old buildings would be converted into art galleries and restaurants.
A railway line separates the 294-acre Sentul master plan into Sentul West and Sentul West, each with distinct characteristics. Yeoh said: "The west is for those who like a serene life within a park, which is suitable for family and children. The east is more for those who are young, vibrant and full of energy; they like a lot of activity and nightlife."
To create more activities in the eastern portion, a shopping centre similar to a hypermarket is planned. Yeoh said the east and west would be linked by a skywalk, connecting the Sentul KTM Komuter station with the Sentul Timur LRT station. "It will cut through buildings and provide links between both stations,” he added.
At present, 2,000 families have moved into Sentul, after the completion of The Tamarind and The Maple condominiums. The Saffron is still under construction and more residential developments are in the pipeline.
KLPac theatre manager Teoh Ming Jin said Sentul's atmosphere had improved, with the new buildings built around the old instead of them being torn down. "Sentul has a very colourful culture and community," he said. Yeoh believes property buyers are now more interested in Sentul and he indicated that the value of land around the area has more than doubled.
"Of course, the community around here was skeptical when we first came in. "Indirectly, we are also helping with unemployment in the community as some have found jobs with us," he said.
With the help of the Government in infrastructure, Sentul has changed and more changes are in store, said Yeoh.
Sentul in the making
The Sentul Master Plan, unveiled in 2002, is a ten-year development plan. Five years on, the area is slowly taking shape and will probably turn out to be one of the most sought-after addresses for those seeking urban living within a lush green park.
This year, the Sentul project was awarded the Malaysia Property Award 2007 in the category for Best Master Plan.