RUMAH TANGSI PUBLIC LECTURE – PART 1
“Heritage buildings are a remembrance of a certain past. It may be glorious or sometimes not, but it has value. Meanwhile, the old paradigm on heritage buildings saw rigid utilization and exclusion as a necessary evil for the preservation of heritage assets. Rumah Tangsi is here to challenge that notion as an inclusive Heritage adaptive reuse space for all. “
Reborn from the ashes of an old extravagant city mansion known as Loke Hall, and later as the colonial era Empire Hotel, where it attracted the elites and upper tier of society, Rumah Tangsi has now been reimagined as an inclusive and sustainable community hub for all. The once-limited access around the compound has been cleared to make way for parking and plaza areas to ease families with children and people with disability. A total 360° transformation that bridges the community closer to heritage buildings via communal events evoke new meaning and appreciation as it interweaves each activity into its history. Since its opening pre pandemic, it has attracted more than 200 programs and hosted more than 50,000 people from all over the world. Known for being a friendly listed heritage event space, it has hosted notable top leaders, celebrities, brands, professionals, NGOs, creative communities and kids. The recurring pop-up community market hosted by diverse communities of Malaysian Malay, Chinese, Indian and foreigners in various thematic has brought together visitors from all ages.
The restoration and renovation works has transformed the lower floor spaces which had added walls reinstated to its original open space planning which allows for free flow circulations. Its unique courtyard, which had served as a symbol of wealth of tycoons of yore, has now transformed into a cosy communal plaza in lieu of a water body. Its lush compound that had hosted exclusive evening dinners has been made alive again with various outdoor community activities. On first floor, the original large bedroom which overlook Malaysia Independence Plaza now hold weekend yoga classes. Such radical departures from its beginning, but giving more and more value to the community by the day.
Unlike other event spaces such as Roundhouse London or Gasometer Vienna business model, Rumah Tangsi is financially sustainable applying cross-subsidised business structure allocating half of its proceeds for the maintenance of the premise and sponsoring community events. With the model, it opens for various collaborative dialogs with other sustainable players by empowering communities. Among notable programs are Children’s Rights, Lawyers & Doctors summit, tiktok fiesta, SDG Workshops, music & dance Festivals, and Urban Farming sessions. Due to its popularity, it was featured in various publications and web such as Malaysia Airlines Going Places, local newspaper and more. The pandemic has only made it innovatively stronger. During lockdown, it expanded through blockchain technology adoption via hosting the first physical NFT Festival in Asia and national day digital art exhibition in metaverse. In conclusion, with good stakeholders’ collaboration between government, social enterprise & community, heritage asset can become a self-sustaining placemaking space for future generations. Let’s replicate and contagiously encourage more sustainable heritage placemaking for all.
Ar Ridha Razak