Proposed Penang Heritage Square near Komtar (updated)

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Update (2 August): What is this huge (five-storey?) building in this plan? (It reminds me of the aborted ‘airport terminal’ building for the Penang Hill Railway.) Something to keep the developers/contractors happy? Do we need yet another ‘iconic’ building when we already have sore thumb Komtar, 1st Avenue and Prangin Mall nearby, with lots of unutilised space in them? Please, not more concrete structures when the space for a green lung is so limited. Thanks to QuercusBen on twitter for raising this concern.

Out of place: Futuristic building in proposed heritage square?

Also, do we need even more boutique hotels etc? Be careful that this place doesn’t become a another gentrified heritage area, devoid of authentic living cultural heritage.

Original entry (31 July 2012):

The proposed Penang Heritage Square has the potential to be a landmark if done properly, with ample public consultation, plenty of green and public spaces, and a showcase of heritage street food.


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Hopefully, it will compensate for the Komtar sore thumb sticking out of George Town. Perhaps, the hawker food zone can also double up as an open-air living street food museum, showcasing Penang’s street food heritage using a retro-setting reminiscent of the early post-war years of the 1940s to the 1960s.

Guan Eng outlines the plan for Komtar Phase 5:

Penang’s Heritage Square – Reclaiming Public Space For Penangites

The Penang State Government and Penang Development Corporation (PDC) are planning to develop Komtar Phase 5, comprising 4.5 acres, into Penang’s new heritage enclave, named Heritage Square. This is in line with George Town’s World Heritage Listing as well as to complement PDC’s revitalisation efforts for Komtar as the socio-civic centre and business hub of the State. This prime 4.5 acres of land in the heart of George Town will predominantly be public space, as part of giving back to city dwellers.

Heritage Square will comprise 5 major elements:

i. restoration and expansion of “Sia Boey” (Prangin Market);

ii. creation of urban spaces;

iii. creation of a Heritage Celebration Square and an iconic George Town Heritage Centre (GHC);

iv. reinstatement and adaptive reuse of heritage and old shophouses; and

v. restoration of Prangin Canal.

The Heritage Square and Centre will dedicate, consecrate and restore the cultural vibrancy of George Town by promoting the living heritage and street life in the inner city, as well as greening the city, thus ensuring a balanced development for the area.

The project which is at the planning stage, is also aimed at revitalising the Komtar Phase 5 area, and to enhance the heritage value and significance of the site by creating urban spaces and landscapes for healthy urban living.

The components of Penang’s Heritage Square comprise the following:

i) To restore and refurbish the existing “Sia Boey” (Prangin Market) structure. This will revitalise the “Sia Boey” into a retail and tourist site, comprising among others a visitors’ centre, crafts and souvenir retail areas, flowers and food hubs. To expand the “Sia Boey”, market, PDC will build an additional adjacent market to complement the existing one for the same intended use.

The restoration and revitalisation of the “Sia Boey” is significant to Georgetown, as it marked the core zone boundary of the Georgetown UNESCO Heritage Site;

ii) As George Town requires more public space for recreation, public congregation, celebrations and cultural performances, the urban public space which include same green areas will be to promote the first of its kind in Penang healthy living. The heritage celebration square will also provide a venue for the establishment of culture, arts and traditions in George Town, thus promoting cultural vibrancy and the concept of melting pot of cultures in the inner city;

iii) To refurbish and reinstate the urban setting of the area whereby existing traditional shophouses along Maxwell Road will undergo adaptive reuse into cafes, kopitiams, tea houses, crafts and handicraft centres, mini-museums, boutiques and B&B hotels which are in line with the heritage ambience and theme of the area. To also reinstate urban setting of the area whereby Maxwell Road will now be for limited vehicles usage with emphasis on pedestrianisation;

iv) A 5-storey GHC will be created which will further add to the vibrancy of the Heritage Square. This iconic building will serve as a venue for arts, cultural, heritage, community, youth and performing activities. The GHC will be raised above street level to provide street plazas for the public; and

v) To restore the Prangin Canal with plans for hawkers street food zone and street furniture amidst well-landscaped areas.

The Heritage Square Project will complement the adjacent Komtar building which is presently undergoing a revitalization process initiated by the Penang State Government and PDC which is aimed at bringing back the glory of Komtar, as the nerve centre of Penang.

The Heritage Square is a project not just for the urban community of Penang, but for Penangites and visitors to experience the old-world charm of George Town and its cultural melting pot, is all poised for success. The Penang State Government and PDC which has been the prime mover of urban redevelopment will undertake to work closely with stakeholders and heritage organisations like George Town World Heritage and other NGOs.

In achieving maximum public participation, I have requested that an exhibition be set up in Komtar next week to allow the public to give their views on the proposed Heritage Square so that we can have public input.

The project will also enhance George Town’s position as Malaysia’s most livable city and 8th most livable city in Asia, as well as to reinforce Penang’s position as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a tourism hub of the East.

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tunglang
tunglang
11 Aug 2012 12.45pm

Mural art painting in heritage George Town.
Do we need an Ang Moh to do just that? (To set the trend?)
Why can’t state gomen & MPPP have more faith in & encourage local Penangite talents to do that? Locals know what is old world charm better & in authentic perspective than a foreigner’s point of view.
The same irrelevant approach with street hawker food. Why roped in a HongKee (last year)?
http://www.onlypenang.com/where-to-go/penang-street-art-wall-painting-at-penang/

Speedy Gonzalez
Speedy Gonzalez
12 Aug 2012 11.12am
Reply to  tunglang

because “talented” artist like tunglang has no initiative to paint the murals on heritage building.
ang moh took the pain to draw and yet the locals condemn him ?
Penang folks sometimes kind of funny; like Samuel Hui’s songs from Hong Kong yet cannot stand Kim Garry from Hong Kong ?

tunglang
tunglang
12 Aug 2012 4.20pm

Hello, Speedy Gonzales. Don’t simply jump to conclusion I don’t paint mural art. You ain’t know Tunglang (by reading this blog) yet, so you are not even qualified to judge me by mere speedy assumption. Silly fella. What I meant is give local artists more opportunities to express their talents. Rope them in for Penang heritage artistic makeover. We have One Academy, Equator & many ex-students of Sain Academy. Just ask the local promotion agency for George Town Festival 2012 why they are not doing it. Is it b’cos locals hold no upmarket image? Or are we still drowning in… Read more »

Tan Khang Hung
Tan Khang Hung
11 Aug 2012 2.05am

Everybody have individual opinions, again, let’s vote, democracy, choices as below;

Do nothing on site, remain old charm
Clean up + park
New building + square + park
Street hawker food court + park

and the list goes on….
Public vote, let the rakyat choose.

ong ong
ong ong
2 Aug 2012 8.14pm

if there’s a lot of modern building in town then it’s no good, but one that stands out among the rest is just pretty cool… why not?

tunglang
tunglang
3 Aug 2012 6.43am
Reply to  ong ong

Is Komtar Tower + Dome ‘cool’ after all these years?
What a sore thumb from a distance!!!
You don’t top up original Hokkien Mee with ice cream or cherry like a cake!!!

ong ong
ong ong
3 Aug 2012 3.19pm
Reply to  tunglang

Komtar is awesome, the design is cool, it’s just that it’s under a wrong hand of management body.

Topping up hokkien mee with ice cream is a wrong example, it should be hokkien mee + a glass of bubble tea. it’s main dish + side dish.

tunglang
tunglang
3 Aug 2012 8.51pm
Reply to  ong ong

The so-called side dish should be served outside the heritage zone. May be near The Light Waterfront for the trendy yuppies.
Sometimes, we must know & be discerning of what is appropriate from what is sore-garish!
If I want to do a Cuban tango with a female fatale, I will definitely not stride out a Saturday Night Fever!!!

rilakkuma
rilakkuma
5 Aug 2012 10.17am
Reply to  tunglang

to the old nolstagic folks like tunglang, you just can’t have Justin Bieber doing a Travlota dance moves of Nite Fever !!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1qN6gLbUMw&w=350

so give and take. sometime i drink at Char Time (Bubble Tea) to understand what’s the fab its all about.

ong ong
ong ong
2 Aug 2012 8.08pm

I like the idea of modern building. Don’t always enough of 1st avenue, prangin mall… it’s a blend of different culture. u go check out spain and other european country, think about ‘what’s modern and futuristic building by frank gehry/zaha hadid doing in an ancient city?’, that’s architecture, that’s fusion, that’s art, that’s beautiful. i look forward for this project =)

ong ong
ong ong
3 Aug 2012 3.20pm
Reply to  Anil Netto

what to do when the city is small? i suggest reclaim and build a park. the original city of george town did not include such a huge park.

Penang People
Penang People
5 Aug 2012 1.07am
Reply to  ong ong

The iconic modern building will make the place more attractive. Currently it looks very messy and unorganized. The city centre looks like an outdated area with many old and poorly maintained shophouses. It is fine to have a modern building at that area as it is not within the UNESCO heritage zone. I wonder why those who appose the GHC design are so anti modern buildings in an area where there are already many modern buildings around. Maybe they are not aware of what is happening in other countries where there are mixture of modern and old buildings at the… Read more »

tunglang
tunglang
5 Aug 2012 12.16pm
Reply to  Anil Netto

Some brains live on concrete, aluminium, green glass & plastics. Which BTW, hold no intrinsic cultural value worth keeping not even for 1 decade.
Komtar Tower was a mistake of modernist adventurism design without careful thought till UNESCO heritage recognition came a bit too late because of such thinking.
Some heritage assets are not meant to be treated like a Potluck Party of mixed dishes or corrupted by unsavory flavors of senseless dimension.

tunglang
tunglang
5 Aug 2012 12.07pm
Reply to  Penang People

My 2 cents suggestions: Create more recreational spaces for creative designs that speak of our heritage & long history like mural (wall) art on prewar houses, garden sculptures like Indian kuli pulling water carts, park benches with historical writings/icons cast in bronze & even old trade/crafts shops for public to experience hands-on like clog making. For performing arts & cultures, have an open air theatre space for our varied cultures. Add more fountains, breed more pigeons, and if possible add fish / bird pet shops, which FYI, were great pastime rendezvous for those living in Sia Boey in the 50’s… Read more »

jimmy
jimmy
2 Aug 2012 5.29pm

I think the idea is good. I like it.

Kevin
Kevin
2 Aug 2012 10.48pm
Reply to  jimmy

Well everyone has their own ideas for the place. Some may like modern structures even within the heritage area. Some may think it is a harm to heritage. I am also against that huge structure that will take up more than a third of the land area considering the area is already very congested. More public green space would decongest and add appeal to the area. The proposal for a cultural centre like that is good for the arts but should be located at a more suitable place. For example, the theaters by the bay in sg is located in… Read more »

Jong
Jong
2 Aug 2012 2.22pm

That ‘modern’ building is a misfit, please get rid of it. It spoils and defeats the purpose of the ‘Heritage Square’!

tunglang
tunglang
2 Aug 2012 2.40pm
Reply to  Jong

Trying to emulate SingLand ambience?
Concrete, glass, aluminium & overt-slippery cleanliness to plastic obsession!
Where’s the old soul of old world charm except during the Month of Hungry GHost (which is very near)?

Aileen
Aileen
10 Aug 2012 3.35pm
Reply to  tunglang

You should visit Singapore to open your eyes how they make money from tourists from whatever heritage the island have to offer.

tan tanjong bungah
tan tanjong bungah
2 Aug 2012 1.30pm

Hi everyone,

I would rather have the Sia Boey market, a heritage building, be renovated and refurbished to retain its old world charm than to have the 5-storey GHC building!

The GHC building seems to be out-of-sync with creating a park-like atmosphere in the inner city! Like one of the blog readers said, London, a much busier and bigger city than Georgetown, has so many public parks! But, why can’t Georgetown have at least 1 big public park that Penangites and tourists would marvel at as a very relaxing and destressing spot to go to?

sPICE Girl Penang
sPICE Girl Penang
2 Aug 2012 10.16am

Hooray for Heritage Square.

By the way, for those who oppose sPICE (formerly called PISA by Gelakan) do come over to see the work in progress. Road side pedestrian walks around sPICE trully spice up the place. Wait till we see the garden above the underground convention centre.

Hooray for Pakatan and shame on you Gelakan for the non-functional water fountain Penangites finally don’t get to see it again !!!!

tan tanjong bungah
tan tanjong bungah
1 Aug 2012 6.23pm

Hi everyone, Hope that professional landscape practioners and environmentalists would give input to the authorities on the proposed Penang Heritage Square. This would add to the much needed green lung space right in the middle of Georgetown! For the restoration of the Prangin Canal, I hope the authorities would consider introducing punting activities along Prangin Canal, like what you have in Cambridge University! I understand the cool weather in Cambridge is conducive to punting during daytime, but nevertheless, punting along the Prangin Canal can be done in cooler weather in the morning, late afternoon and night time, which would complement… Read more »

Super Senior
Super Senior
1 Aug 2012 4.36pm

Penang can consider setting up a Chinese heritage museum like Singapore:

sPICE Girl Penang
sPICE Girl Penang
2 Aug 2012 10.46am
Reply to  Super Senior

not to be racist, Heritage Museum in the heritage Penang undeniably will showcase more exhibits from early chinese settlers.
however, there can also be Heritage museum for Indians and Indian Muslims (may nasi kandar stuffs but definitely not that sorts that disrupt peaceful gatherings). Early Malay heritage showcase should be there as well although majority of Malay heritage items should be at Tanjong Tokong enclave which UDA has failed to live up Malay communities aspirations.

顿狼
顿狼
3 Aug 2012 11.57am
Reply to  Super Senior

Many tourists from China wish to travel south (nanyang) to relieve the experience of those chinese settlers in south-east asia. They also like to visit places where Dr Sun Yat Sen has been to to galvanise the support of overseas chinese against th Japanese Occupation. Penang should capitalise on this high-spending Chinese tourists.

tunglang
tunglang
3 Aug 2012 2.12pm
Reply to  顿狼

Do we have far-sighted tourism officials to capitalize on old world charm of Pulo Panang?
Perhaps, their minds are too fixated on Darth Vader’s iconic futuristic flavor ala Cosmopolitan Penang.
Too consummated by lawat sambil belajar in SingLand?
We have the golden goose in front of us that lays the golden eggs, but we still look for other’s aluminium geese that lay plastic eggs!

tunglang
tunglang
3 Aug 2012 8.45pm
Reply to  顿狼

顿狼, thanks for your tourism insight.
Privately managed museums are potential initiatives to cater to these Chinese markets. Spin off includes visual fine arts, antiques & crafts souvenirs.
Jointly run with Ori-Maestro street hawker food experience, the timeless impressions will be unforgettable & immediate word of mouth viral reaching millions (if not billions) of China tourist segment.

Great Wall red wine, anyone?

Frogger
Frogger
6 Aug 2012 3.08pm
Reply to  tunglang

When you attract those tourists who can spend, the local people will benefit. If one Sing Dollar now worth RM2.51, I think it is worth learning from Singapore.

tunglang
tunglang
5 Aug 2012 12.27pm
Reply to  Super Senior

Why SingLand treasures the past in such museums is because it has irreversibly lost a living Asian heritage decades ago.
Here, Penang is taking away piece by piece, the living heritage in our midst & morphing it into Darth Vader’s lookout space capsule!
Darth Vader Cafe in Penang Heritage Square?
Time for Kopi-O kau kau at my favorite Penang heritage ambience kopitiam without the added plastic sugar bad for health & sanity of brain & mind.

Andrew I
Andrew I
31 Jul 2012 9.23pm
Jonny T
Jonny T
31 Jul 2012 7.47pm

Anil,

This is a good idea by the state gov, instead of another mall or tall building. A cheaper and greener option will be to turn that area into a park with more grass and trees, not the concrete, tile, stainless steel & tacky structures parks that we normally see.

A small open mini-amphitheater will be cheaper, more accessible, and more useful than the 5-storey GHC.

Yang
Yang
1 Aug 2012 10.13am
Reply to  Jonny T

Yes greenery and the PR LGE state govt is doing very well.Railing in the centre of the road along Datuk Keramat road in front of the padang and Convent Datuk Keramat have been dismantled and will be planted with plants & small trees.

kee
kee
1 Aug 2012 3.52pm
Reply to  Jonny T

I love the plan, GREAT !!!

On the same token, it is time Penang government to impose heavy fines on litterings.

We cant afford to be dirty anymore !!!

tunglang
tunglang
31 Jul 2012 6.16pm

Is this the beginning of a ‘living’ Penang heritage dream coming true for many of us heritage lovers?
I am still pinching my face!
How about linking this to Macalister Road, which also has a long history of street food legacy?
LGE, please do it differently from SingLand.
Ours is authenticity to the core. A timeless impression.
Cheers Kopi-O kau kau kau!!!

Kevin
Kevin
31 Jul 2012 8.24pm
Reply to  tunglang

You are right. Finally someone is doing something with that eye-sore. This new plan seems to be a lot better than building malls and skyscrappers that will benefit the rich. By turning it into a park, multipurpose open venue and a waterfront, the area can be revitalised. Best part is that it remains free and open for everyone, rich and poor to enjoy. New tenants can be brought into the area even if they are setting up modern outlets so long as they pay rent. What I don’t like is the need to expand the market further. Do we need… Read more »

tuakee
tuakee
1 Aug 2012 11.22am
Reply to  Anil Netto

if you follow Olympics 2012; you will notice that the city folks have the pride of Hyde Park green lung right in the city for people to relax and enjoy the free telecast in natural setting till midnight hours. New York has Central Park. Spore has Gardens By The Bay.
So it’s time LGE and team (after 308 honeymoon) show the World (forget BN’s sour grapers rent seekers) Penang has the brains and determination to be the best !

tuakee
tuakee
1 Aug 2012 11.29am
Reply to  Anil Netto

think out of box …. what if Penang Heritage Square to collaborate with Penang’s Chew Thean Yang Aquarium to rear tropical colourful fishes at the canal ???

If Shanghai or Hangzhou got its famous gardens with koi fishes; Penang can also offer the world the tropical fishes living in natural habitat at the canal ???

Jonny T
Jonny T
1 Aug 2012 4.57pm
Reply to  Kevin

Interesting. The area already has Cecil St market to the south, Chowrasta to the north, and Carnavon St. market to the northeast.

The hawker center also risks traffic & waste pollution of the area.

tunglang
tunglang
2 Aug 2012 2.32pm
Reply to  tunglang

Q: creation of a Heritage Celebration Square and an iconic George Town Heritage Centre (GHC)

Oh, my Heritage Pulo Panang!
What have this incongruous design have any-thing to do or exude any sense of old world charm? Looks more like Darth Vader’s space capsule or secret lookout!
C’mon, after the stupidity of Penang Hill design proposal fiasco, can’t the state gomen learn anything from it?
I now reserve my enthusiasm for this Satu Lagi Projek Tak Siuman Sia Boey!

Penang People
Penang People
4 Aug 2012 11.58pm
Reply to  tunglang

Only stupid people will say Penang Hill design is stupid.Look at the increased number of tourists at Penang Hill now.Do you still think it is stupid?That Sia Boey area is not within the heritage zone. I cannot understand what is wrong of having another modern building there. Are 1st Avenue,Komtar and Prangin Mall herritage buildings?

tunglang
tunglang
5 Aug 2012 9.33am
Reply to  Penang People

Tourists come to enjoy the Pg Hill Nature ambience & slow ride, not Speedy Gonzales ride in a fridge train, get it???
Darth Vader design, what’s in your crappy mind?

Ahmad Sobri
Ahmad Sobri
31 Jul 2012 2.07pm

Pakatan Rakyat seems to be doing everything right for Penang and Penangnites! While, MCA and Chua Soi Lek wants to sell off PPC! Just see for yourself, who is more suitable to govern Penang for Penangnites? You trust MCA, they would probably sell everything to their political masters? These UMNO/sycophants folks are so void of ideas to govern, they seem so lost, they do not know where to go and what to do. They blunder and blundered. While MCA is immersed in sex, more sex and Talam, GELAKAN seems very much immersed in how to implement HUDUD for ALL for… Read more »

Andrew I
Andrew I
31 Jul 2012 8.24pm
Reply to  Ahmad Sobri

Well, the Chinese Sex Legend did ask us to compare BN with Pakatan before casting our votes just a few days ago. Needless to say, Pakatan wins hands down in Penang and when Pakatan is able to form the Federal Government, then we can compare. So, let’s get them in and fulfill the d.o.m.’s wishes.

Sathis Kumar
Sathis Kumar
31 Jul 2012 1.26pm

“Someone’s junk will be someone else’s treasure.” Mr.Prakash and his wife Punita has a collection of finest heirlooms of Tamil Community and Peranakan in their house in Georgetown, Penang. They live in an apartment with a space of ​​750 square feet filled with antiques that have been collected by them for the last four years. Although the space in their house is too limited, it does not prevent their spirit and desire to find more antiques from various part of Malaysia. They both began to collect antiques in 2009 and now the number of items has reached almost to 1,400,… Read more »

sPICE Girl Penang
sPICE Girl Penang
2 Aug 2012 11.17am
Reply to  Sathis Kumar

do take care of the old and poor folks living in the heritage zone when commercialism “runs over them”.

can’t read mandarin report but you can see the pics in today kwang Hwa paper on Heritage makeover :

http://www.kwongwah.com.my/news/2012/08/02/18.html

Azrai
Azrai
3 Sep 2012 11.53am

Public may provide feedback on proposed Heritage Square http://thestar.com.my/metro/story.asp?file=/2012/8/31/north/11944943&sec=north GEORGE TOWN: Public feedback is being sought for Penang’s Heritage Square, a project under the Komtar Phase Five development. An exhibition featuring the iconic heritage and green project by the state government is being held until Sept 30 at Komtar Level Three concourse floor. The exhibition is aimed at publicising the components of the project as well as to get feedback and response from the public. It was reported on Aug 1 that the state government and Penang Development Corporation (PDC) plan to transform a 1.82ha plot of land, including the… Read more »