Ipoh which has been the top destination for domestic visitors for the last four straight years owes its popularity due to its food and the old world charms of its city.
Knowing that the charms of the city lie in the attractiveness of its heritage buildings it was good news to learn the owner of Arlene House formerly known as the Chung Thye Phin building located at Old Town had invited the architecture department of Ungku Omar Polytechnic to conduct a detailed measured drawing of its heritage building.
Ipoh’s Old Town enclave with its old buildings adapted to house eclectic cafes and boutique hotels have earned the locale to be recently coined the title of ‘hipster’ a word used in the 50’s and 60’s to describe a trendy and stylish image though in an unconventional manner.
Not surprisingly then that Ipoh was recently voted by Lonely Planet as the “6th must visit Asian destination for 2016” and praised for its attractive ‘timeworn old period buildings and colonial masterpieces’ together with its foods on offer.
The owners of Arlene House who requested anonymity said they were committed towards conserving their building.
“Our objective is solely to restore and conserve heritage buildings. We started work on the building since 2012.
“We were aware that detailed measurement is a tool that helps to conserve a building so we approached Ungku Omar Polytechnic to do a measured drawing.
“We feel the detailed drawings can provide a showcase and help educate the community and other interested parties about the design, personality and the role of the building in the history of Old Town
“Other than the restoration we have no other plans for now” said its owners.
Arlene House is centrally located within Ipoh’s Old Town Heritage Trail where hoards of visitors walk by every day. As with all of Old Town the building has a wealth of history.
Built by the last Kapitan China of Perak, Chung Thye Pin in 1907 the building had always been associated with dispensing medicine first as the Medical Hall by Dr RM Connally then followed by Oldfields Dispensary and George Town Dispensary in later years until the late 20th century.
The building with its facade of arches and columns with rusticated grooves would probably classify it under Lonely Planets category of ‘colonial masterpieces’.
Ungku Omar Polytechnic’s Lecturer for Architecture En Jaki Mamat said the most important goal of conservation is to ensure the survivability and continuous use of the building.
Jaki, also the Vice President of Perak Heritage Society said that fifteen of its students participated in the project covering all elements of the building in order to produce a complete set of drawings and identify the historical background of the building.
“The measure of conservation is that old buildings should facilitate current needs and this can be achieved through adaptive reuse.
“Every building has a value be it historical or architectural. It has a story behind it that reflects the people and a place in time.
“The detailed measuring allows interested parties to share its history, design and personality with future generations.
He added that that the detailed documentation also allowed for reference, repair and inventory and potential listing for national heritage.
“The initiative by Arlene House will create awareness by other owners of heritage buildings of the importance of conservation”.