3 Feb 2018: Aesthetics in architecture

Among the scientists, the architect is regarded as an artist; among the artists, the architect is seen as a scientist; in a cultureless surrounding, the architect is sought out as a culturalist – the person of reason in an irrational, and often unfair world. — Malaysian Institute of Architects

PAM books

Just in time for the ninth World Urban Forum in Kuala Lumpur this Feb. A sublime collection of essays and architectural photography, available now from Areca Books!

It’s a pity most people tend to take architecture and buildings for granted — or overlook then completely — as they go about their fast-paced lives in a rapidly changing landscape. Ask yourself. Who designed the City Hall in Penang? How do you describe the architectural style of The Central Market in Kuala Lumpur? “Architecture is not just about buildings. It is a public art-form and also a cultural signboard that describes the signs of the times”, according to the Malaysian Institute of Architects, the organisation behind a series of publications on architecture and urbanisation, now available at Areca Books. Also known locally as Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia (PAM), the group further asserts that grand old buildings of the past are more than just historical records — they are like memorial stones of our culture, the link between periods of history that tells the story of the progression of us as a people and a nation. This is a sentiment that should resonate among Penangites, as events over the past few decades have placed the fate and future of George Town tottering on a fragile and fine line between the urgent need for heritage and cultural conservation and the profitable pull of economic development.

The following titles from PAM feature the past, present and future of architecture in Malaysia, and the people behind them. The impressively researched and handsomely illustrated books should prove to be an interesting read for professionals, as well as laypeople who are interested in landscapes, architecture, urbanisation and history.

PAM Centre: in the eye of a storm is a historical and descriptive narrative of Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia (PAM) through the lineage of the various PAM Centres, beginning in 1969 at the Merlin Hotel to the present one at Jalan Tandok in Bangsar. Some of the facts are referenced from a previous book, some from PAM files as well as articles from Architecture Malaysia and some from the author’s own experience and memory from over the years. (2017, Hardcover, 22cm x 22cm, 117 pages, ISBN 9789675264177, RM80)

Views Reviews Interviews attempts to capture the spirit of the various eras through views, reviews and interviews of some of the participants of the Merdeka Jubilee Architecture Symposium. It is supplemented by images, cuttings and extracts from newsletters, magazines and archives. The underlining theme and story is that of a community of dedicated architects who respond to the circumstances and opportunities of their times and pour their energies in the development of their profession and their architecture; taking Malaysia from 1957 to 2017 and Beyond. (2017, Softcover, 26cm x 21cm, 168 pages, ISBN 9789675264191, RM80)

Logbook aka the official catalog for Kuala Lumpur Architecture Festival (KLAF2017), the main event of the architectural calendar in Malaysia. This publication attempts to offer an insight into the festival and the latent energies in architecture within Malaysia and elsewhere. Designed as a compendium annual of the domestic architectural realm, the editors aimed to provide a platform and stage. The objective is to construct a concentrated moment to bring together and galvanise a constituency of influencers, projects, speculations and ideas, and to present them to the public at large in Kuala Lumpur and internationally.(2017, Softcover, 27cm x 21cm, 376 pages, ISBN 9789675264184, RM138)

Architectural Heritage: Kuala Lumpur — Pre-Merdeka pools together a whole series of important pre-independence buildings that tell a story of how the nation was formed. It is a record and tribute to Kuala Lumpur’s old diversity and the nation’s history. In its simplest and non-technical form, this book also acts as an informative pocket-sized guidebook for tourists and visitors who are keen to take a quick historical tour of the city. (2007, Softcover, 26cm x 13cm, 172 pages, ISBN 9789834049379, RM50)

Post-Merdeka Architecture 1957-1987 brings together exhibits and materials from the Exhibition of Post Merdeka Architecture in 1987 together with other articles. The format of this book is structured to introduce a series of articles to the reader followed by a complete catalogue of photographs and illustrations of the selected buildings arranged in a chronological order; to tell a story of a journey through time. In a rapidly changing built environment where many buildings are defaced, mutilated, vandalised or even demolished, this book is therefore a timely effort to collate all information available and place them into the pages of history. (2007 (reprinted), Softcover, 30cm x 16cm, 164 pages, ISBN 9789834049379, RM30)

Architecture and urbanisation takes centre stage in February during the ninth session of the World Urban Forum, which takes place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This event will focus on the implementation of the policies and strategies formulated during Habitat III, a conference on housing and sustainable urban development held in 2016 in Ecuador.

Today, architecture is vulnerable, and it should be particularly cherished, respected, and stewarded by those who make their living around it. (Jones, Partners Architecture)