Kuala Lumpur, 16th January 2023 – Since 2013, The University of Kansas, Lawrence, the United States, has chosen Malaysia as one of the countries to be a case study for its Study Abroad program. The sixth Malaysia Architectural Study Tour, which took place between the 5th and 15th of January, received an unexpected response. The previous Architectural Study Tour was held in January 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to halt the program for two years. This time, 45 students, including two faculty members from Kansas University, participated in the program.
According to Dr Kapila Silva, the Professor of Architecture and Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) at the School of Architecture and Design, University of Kansas, the rapidly developing Malaysia is rich in culture, which has been portrayed through its architectural design buildings, heritage trails and cultural places. They also feel welcome in this country every time they visit Malaysia. The Institut Sultan Iskandar (ISI), supported by the architecture program, Faculty of Built Environment and Surveying, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), has provided a 10-day, 9-night tour covering the states of Johor, Negeri Sembilan, Melaka, Perak, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Selangor.
The program included several visits to places with traditional architecture and award-winning iconic architecture in Malaysia. The visit to traditional buildings includes National Mosque, the Central Market, the Sultan Abdul Samad building, and the Masjid Jamek to represent Malaysia’s early modern architecture. Malaysia’s global era is characterised by skyscrapers, such as the Petronas Twin Towers and Kuala Lumpur Tower. Also included are visits to buildings with unique concepts, such as the Malaysian Institute of Architects Center, Tamarind Square, Universiti Petronas and Heriot-Watt University, Malaysia Campus. The visits also feature architects of the selected buildings, such as Dato’ Dr Ar Ken Yeang, Ar Razin Mahmood, Ar Azman Zainal and Ar Wooi Lok Kuang. This year, the tour highlights the newly launched Malaysia Heritage Studios Melaka (formerly known as Mini Malaysia Melaka), which displays newly renovated traditional houses of Malaysia.
The Director of Malaysia Architectural Study Tour ISI UTM, Dr Wan Nurul Mardiah Wan Mohd Rani, stated that Malaysia’s architecture offers a different experience from the Modern Architectural Era (1955-1970) through the Postmodern Era (1971-1990) and the Global Era (1991- 2017). Our developing architectural design always provided something to look into and learn. Thus, ISI provides a new and exciting agenda every time the University of Kansas visits the country.
In addition, this program also introduces the Putrajaya administrative centre, which represents the new and planned city development. Tours include the Sultan Mizan Mosque, Dataran Putra, the Boulevard, and Putrajaya Cruise. In the meantime, DBKL’s efforts to create urban space have led to historical heritage in Kuala Lumpur, such as the River of Life and Kuala Lumpur back lanes.
The welcoming sessions were held at UTM, Johor Bahru, on 5th January. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Development), Prof. Ts. Dr Mohd Hamdan Ahmad, the Executive Director of ISI, Prof. Dr Syed Ahmad Iskandar Syed Ariffin and the Director of the Architecture Program, Assoc. Prof. Dr Alice Sabrina Binti Ismail were also present. On the last day of their visit, a memorable farewell dinner was held at Menara Kuala Lumpur.