KOTA KINABALU, 21st October, 2014 – Local graduates architects and corporate members of PAM Sabah Chapter had the rare opportunity to attend a “Members and Graduates Get-together Dinner” talk by three senior Sabah architects whose early projects paved the way for modern architecture in Sabah today.
Three speakers gave their talks during the event. Senior architect Aziz Mahfar of Arkitek Bersatu (Sabah) shared his experience of being one of the early Bumiputera architects in Sabah after the formation of Malaysia and his observation of how the architectural process in the state has changed through the various decades.
“When I first set foot here, Sabah (nature) was so beautiful, and mostly undeveloped. But it was a logistical challenge to access sites, especially in the Crocker Range areas due to the hilly terrain and there were no roads at the time”, said Ar. Aziz, talking about some of his projects. With an architectural career spanning five decades, he also shared some anecdotes on his experiences with past clients under different political eras in Sabah and how he as a Malay architect was even once commissioned to design a Chinese temple in Lahad Datu Township.
“Clients were more open-minded back then”, as he recalled.
Ar. David Kwan of Wisma Akitek presented his experience as the associate architect for Sabah’s most iconic building Menara Tun Mustapha (formerly the Sabah Foundation building), to whom many Sabahans still regard as the pinnacle of architectural excellence in construction and corporate design in Sabah. With its steel and glass facade, the Menara Tun Mustapha was the tallest building in Borneo during 1978 when it was completed and was officiated in 1979. The contents of Ar. Kwan’s talk covered the construction process of the tower complex and how it was built using the most advanced technology available during the 1970s era.
Ar. Victor Wong, who is also PAM Sabah Chapter chairman, presented his talk on architecture based on his life experience, both as a qualified mechanical engineer and an architect.
He described how he struggled in his early years after setting up his company, “VW Akitek” in 1983 and survived with the availability of the clean OD of RM15,000/= from Chartered Bank then. Later he was commissioned to design the Sabah Land Development Board (SLDB) Headquarter Building, Kota Kinabalu. Through strategic planning, he was able to have the building completed in 6 months by designing the foundation on solid cut ground to avoid piling work, and the use of modular design for all the partitions, doors and windows.
St. Aloysius Church, Kampong Limbanak, Penampang, which houses Sabah’s largest stained glass window of 28′-0” high by 14′-0” wide is also another work by Ar. Wong.
He also spoke proudly on the Tawau Regional Library of which pre-cast concrete technology was used on the facades of the building, with the biggest circular acoustic window of 6′-0” diameter. Another iconic Sabah building was the Kadazan Dusun Cultural Association (KDCA) cultural centre by Ar. Wong and he revealed that the building has the largest gong of 14′-0” in diameter and 4′-0” high in Sabah. Ar. Wong shared his experience on how the design was derived from the various cultural aspects of Kadazandusun motifs and lifestyle that provided inspiration for the complex’s unique design.
“Italian Glass mosaics in black and gold color, had to be imported for the motifs in the fascias” Wong further explained.
Feedback of the architectural talks from the attending guests was positive. “The talks were very enlightening”, said a graduate who only wished to be known as Ed. “To me, the highlight was the presentation on the Menara Tun Mustapha, As shown in its construction and design, for instance, the Menara Tun Mustapha is a building of world-class standard. Overseas, buildings such as these are preserved and revitalized as part of its country’s heritage.” Other graduates concurred that it was nice to get a glimpse of past architecture and experiences shared by the local senior architects.
During the get-together dinner, the volunteer tutors and lecturers from the Chapter including a private quantity surveyor, who has assisted in preparing the Part 2 graduates for their Lembaga Arkitek Malaysia (LAM) Part 3 professional examination for the past 3 years under the Council of Architectural Education Malaysia (CAEM) Sabah program, were presented mementos in recognition of their invaluable services rendered to PAM Sabah Chapter.
Ar. Tuan Hj. Shahriman Abdullah as chairman of Social Activities thanked the three speakers for sharing their insights of Sabah’s development in architecture and pointed out the similarities of each speaker was that each displayed a leadership role as an architect of the project, hence reminding members unless they strive to spearhead projects as the main movers and key problem solvers, the architect’s role as an industry leader will be replaced by professionals from other fields. Ar. Victor also commented that at the same time, it was important to show leadership by also working closely with other consultants and bringing them together as a team.
The event organized by PAM Sabah Chapter for its “Members Get Together Gathering” was held on 17th October at Restaurant Nasi Padang Ibu at Karamunsing Complex, Kota Kinabalu.