Iversen: Architect of Ipoh and Modern Malaya

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Ruth Iversen Rollitt
2015. Areca Books
Hardcover. 24.13 cm x 24.13 cm, 240 pages
280+ colour photographs
ISBN: 9789675719226


By Ruth Iversen Rollitt

50 Best Malaysian Titles for International Rights 2015

Iversen: Architect of Ipoh and Modern Malaya, is a biography of the Danish architect B.M. Iversen (1906–1976). It is illustrated with hundreds of original photographs, building plans and original paintings by the architect.

Perhaps more than any other architect of his generation, B.M. Iversen (1906–1976) introduced modern architecture to Malaya. From his award-winning Federal House and the landmark Loke Yew Building in Kuala Lumpur, to the 38 cinemas he designed for the Shaw Brothers and the Cathay Organisation, Iversen’s buildings remain icons of Malaysian Art Deco and Modernist architecture. Arriving in Malaya in 1928, the young Danish architect worked for Booty & Edwards and then Keys & Dowdeswell before moving to Ipoh. There, he settled down, founded his own practice and began to experiment with variants of tropical architecture. He was joined by his Dutch friend Henk van Sitteren after the war. By the time Iversen retired in 1966, the partnership of Iversen & van Sitteren had grown into a large firm with 14 architects of Danish, Dutch, British, and Malayan nationalities. The firm was responsible for the design of thousands of buildings in Penang, Perak, Cameron Highlands, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

Written by the architect’s daughter, Ruth Iversen Rollitt, this warm, richly illustrated biography sheds new light on the life and work of Iversen, whose career spanned almost four decades in Malaya.

Iversen: Architect of Ipoh and Modern Malaya by Ruth Iversen Rollitt, features a foreword by Dr Jon Lim and an epilogue by Dr Lai Chee Kien

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About The Author Ruth

Born in Batu Gajah, Perak in 1938, Ruth Iversen Rollitt grew up in Ipoh and was educated in Denmark. In 1962, she returned to Malaya after marrying the Scottish rubber planter Donald Baxter. She was widowed the following year when her husband was murdered in a pay-roll robbery. She returned to Denmark in 1966 and married the British diplomat Philip Rollitt in 1969. Joining him on various postings, she lived in London, Singapore, Islamabad, Bonn, and Tokyo before retiring to London. She is the mother of three sons.


Editorial reviews of Iversen: Architect of Ipoh and Modern Malaya by Ruth Iversen Rollitt

Iversen: Architect of Ipoh and Modern Malaya

“The Iversens had a tradition of keeping letters and journals so the book is a compilation of Iversen’s own journal — which he presented through colourful cartoons written in Dutch — and his wife Corry Iversen’s handwritten letters, pictures and building plans kept throughout the years.” Opalyn Mok, Malay Mail

“The 230-page book, is a pictorial feast of both black and white, and coloured photographs, from the albums which Ruth’s mother compiled for her father. Ruth said, “It had taken at least three years to publish and contains excerpts from my father’s letters to his mother and also pages from his book, called Unfinished.” Mariam Mokhtar, Ipoh Echo

In the news see more

Berthel Michael Iversen: architect

Cherishing her father’s legacy, by S. Ista Kyra, New Straits Times

An Afternoon with Ruth Iversen Rollitt, Mariam Mokhtar, Ipoh Echo

Iversen’s Ipoh,  Foong Thim Leng, The Star

10 things about: B.M. Iversen, the architect of modern Malaya, Opalyn Mok, The Malay Mail

‘I weep for Ipoh, my beloved hometown’, Mariam Mokhtar, Rakyat Times


Book launches of Iversen: Architect of Ipoh and Modern Malaya by Ruth Iversen Rollitt, 23 March 2015 see more


List of Illustrations
Foreword by Jon Lim
Author’s Preface
B.M. Iversen’s Career Timeline
The Early Years

Chapter 1:
Denmark 1906–1928
Werner, the Planter
Berthel’s Turn

Chapter 2:
Arrival and His First Job
Arrived in Penang, April 1928
With Booty & Edwards, Kuala Lumpur, 1928–1929
Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall

Chapter 3:
Working with ‘Fully Fledged Architects’
With Keys & Dowdeswell, Singapore, 1929–1931
With Keys & Dowdeswell, Ipoh, 1931–1934

Chapter 4:
On His Own in Ipoh
Independent, B.M. Iversen, Architect, Ipoh, 1934–1942
Cottages for the Camerons
The Pre-War Cinemas

Chapter 5:
The War Years
Fleeing the War in Malaya
Evacuation from Singapore and Batavia
In Australia, 1942–1944
In New Guinea, 1944–1946
The Post-War Practice

Chapter 6:
Post-War Malaya
B.M. Iversen, Architect, Ipoh & Penang, 1946–1950
Iversen of Ipoh
The Penang Office

Chapter 7:
Architecture of the Federation
Iversen & van Sitteren, Ipoh, Penang & Kuala Lumpur, 1950–1962
Building for the Government
Van Sitteren in Singapore

Chapter 8:
Merdeka and More Cinemas
Iversen’s Merdeka Portfolio
More Cinemas

Chapter 9:
Partnerships and Transitions
Per and Ruth Iversen
Iversen, van Sitteren & Partners, Ipoh, Penang, Kuala Lumpur & Singapore, 1962–1966
Houses and Housing Estates
Retirement in Denmark, from 1966

Epilogue by Lai Chee Kien

Weight 1200 g
Dimensions 24.13 × 24.13 × 1.9 cm


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