Preservation and Conservation of Johor’s Character: Historical Buildings

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Old Johor Bahru meets the modern Johor Bahru, and a river that had witnessed it all

Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA), Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) and Think City gathered 100 small contactors from grade G1 to G3 at the Conservation Workshop at Amari Johor Bahru recently.
From the hotel via Jalan Trus, workshop participants were given a walkabout tour on the row of 18 colourful historical shop houses.

Tan Hiap Hong, a conservation consultant, shared how true Johoreans would know that the original shophouses’ facade was not colourful. He found the original colour of the buildings by interviewing the shophouses’ owners who recalled the colours from memories of their childhood. In cases where owners could not give information, conservators would “scratch” the wall to see the first layer of the paint. Tan showed how the original colour could also be seen from the peeling weathered paint.

Sand and lime were used in certain ratios depending on the finishing

Iskandar Malaysia acknowledges the potential of heritage elements not only as a mean towards enhancing historical and cultural awareness but also to preserve and enhance the ‘soul’ of the region. Therefore, more skilled contractors would be needed.

The workshop is under the Johor Bahru Transformation Programme, a joint effort between Johor Bahru City Council (MBJB) and IRDA towards the conservation of heritage buildings along Jalan Segget. Under the Johor Bahru City Centre Heritage Conservation Masterplan, a total of 263 buildings were identified as heritage buildings.
Preserving and conserving the buildings require incorporation of local ‘character’, and to later develop them into tourist attractions. Contractors were educated and guided on the right methodology for conservation and restoration of heritage buildings.

Iskandar Malaysia aims to increase the community’s appreciation and efforts towards conserving our rich heritage by not only through buildings but also by other cultural elements such as traditional costumes, food, and games.

Johor has plenty of heritage sites and a rich history to be told and experienced not only to tourists, but for future generations as well.

IRDA is preparing a guidebook on building conservation which will include a basic introduction of conservation, building materials, application process and other related information. The guidebook is expected to be ready by early next year.