Architects, Engineers and Artists of Malaysia’s Independence
by Lai Chee Kien and Ang Chee Cheong
a KLAF publication project, Published by PAM, April 2018
Between 2001 and 2006, architectural historian Lai Chee Kien conducted a series of interviews with the key architects, engineers and artists who contributed to the landscape of Kuala Lumpur and its outskirts at the time of Independence. The ten projects – Merdeka Stadium, Merdeka Park, University of Malaya, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, Stadium Negara, Muzium Negara, Parliament House, Masjid Negara and Subang Airport – endowed the capital city with key structures for a functioning nation, and created fervour towards the sense of citizenship in Malaysia.
The Merdeka Interviews, a collaboration between Lai Chee Kien and Ang Chee Cheong, brings together for the first time in a single volume, 17 interviews which reveals not only the protagonists’ roles and work in shaping these architectural icons, but also the milieus, circumstances and larger historical contexts during which they practised. The publication of these interviews is relevant and timely, as we look back in time to discover the courage and spirit that forged a nation of peoples from multiple origins in the first decade of Independence, and their endowments on the landscape of Kuala Lumpur today. As a group of voices, it tells not only a history of the nation’s architecture and buildings at its birth, but altogether the story of Malaysia.
W. Ivor Shipley
Chuah Thean Teng
Ho Kok Hoe
Lai Lok Kun
C. Raymond Honey
Lee Kwok Thye
Stanley E. Jewkes
LAI CHEE KIEN is Adjunct Associate Professor at the Architecture and Sustainable Design Pillar, Singapore University of Technology and Design. He is a registered architect, and graduated from NUS with an M Arch. by research , and a PhD in History of Architecture & Urban Design from the University of California, Berkeley . He researches on histories of art, architecture, settlements, urbanism and landscapes in Southeast Asia. His publications include Building Merdeka: Independence Architecture in Kuala Lumpur, 1957-1966 (2007) and Recollections of Life in an Accidental Nation: Alfred Wong (2016). His 2015 work, Through the Lens of Lee Kip Lin: Photographs of Singapore 1965-1995 was awarded the Singapore Book Award for Best Non-Fiction Title in 2016. The co-authored work Building Memories: People, Architecture, Independence won Book of the Year 2017 in the same series.
ANG CHEE CHEONG is an independent architect based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He is a registered practitioner and participates in projects of all scales and ambitions, with an enthusiasm to engage with new domains and ideas. He maintains a broad interest in art, media, technology and culture, and where they intersect with architecture, supporting a strong conviction in architecture as an agency for progressive social organisation and transformation. His previous experience and current activities include projects in architecture, urbanism and design, academia and occasionally contributing articles to various publications. Ang was recently appointed the Director and Chief Curator for the Kuala Lumpur Architecture Festival 2017 and 2018, and also serves as the Editor for the official KLAF catalogue, The Logbook (2017) and the Architecture Malaysia magazine.