Much like a photograph, architectural designs can record details of specific moments in time. But unlike photographs, physical structures go on to have a life of their own, becoming a central and functional part of countless people’s lives as long as it stands. iProperty.com writer, Melvin Chow picked the 5 most inspiring architectures in Malacca by simply visiting them and discovering their historical background.
An old dilapidated pre-war art decoration building built in 1941, 45 Lekiu is truly a sight to behold. When Musang Lena, a management company, took over the building, the interior and the building itself was less than ideal. The previous owner, who has been living there for generations, had covered the entire centre air well and garden, other than the haphazard illegal extensions and the totally uninhabitable second floor that is close to near collapse.
With the idea of heritage in mind, it took Musang Lena 8 months to refurbish the entire property. Located adjacent to the infamous Jonker Street, the heritage status of 45 Lekiu makes it even more imperative for them to preserve and restore – keeping what is authentic to the property and replacing what were broken with originals.
Today, 45 Lekiu stand as a guesthouse occupying three levels, clad in the original red bricks. The guesthouse does not obey to the minimalist approach as it is richly furnished with tailored assortment of the mid-twentieth century furniture, contemporary photography, lavish carpets, abstract arts, dainty ceramic, majestic chandeliers and peppered with local Peranakan and Chinese heritage furniture such as the huge ornate Peranakan day bed which anchors the living room and the 20 foot long ancient Chinese scripture which adorn the master bedroom wall.
Guests will experience the cosiness and the feeling of ease while wrapped in luxury and comfort that is to offer from 45 Lekiu’s environment alone. There is something new to discover at every turn, while guests can unwind with a dip in the pool or a glass of wine at the patio overlooking the majestic view of the UNESCO Heritage Site from the rooftop.
The Baboon House
The Baboon House is an old-fashioned café located in Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock that impresses thanks to its relaxed atmosphere, tranquil open-air courtyard, spacious seating arrangements and extensive furnishings. Coupled with its authentic gourmet burgers and freshly grounded coffee, this café is never short on personality.
The architecture of this hidden gem parallel to the famous Jonker Street, combining art and natural appreciation flows spontaneously. It is one of the originally Peranakan themed eateries and coffee shops that exist as a breather from the very common and what we consider as a default-option fast food dining. Dilapidated walls give an antique feeling of what it’s like to be in a pre-war building.
This unique gallery café offers guests a welcome rest and bite from the day’s heat, particularly when they have marched around the narrow and crowded points of interests nearby. While waiting to be served, guests can find a few serene spots to sit back, unwind and enjoy the quiet moment by reading a book, a magazine or simply inspecting the various arts and crafts decorating the walls.
Casa del Rio
Casa del Rio, as its name suggests, means a home by the river. Located just minutes away from the Stadthuy’s and Jonker Street within the hive of Malacca, the hotel overlooks the waterway of the Malacca River, offering visitors the old Portugese town a charming abode of both serenity and comfort.
The architectural design of the hotel pays tribute to the Portuguese heritage of Malacca and the Malaccan Sultanate while blending in with the local surrounds. Local stone, rendered walls, natural woods and terracotta ceramics make up the hard finishing, while pomegranate, amber and burnt sienna hues wash the interiors with a distinctively Mediterranean appeal with a touch of Peranakan flair.
Built on a 2-acre site, Casa del Rio offers more than a bed for guests to rest as it offers couples their own little slice of paradise and experience utter escapism. It inspires in a way where the architecture takes guests back to the old world charm, yet fulfilling the needs of a 21st century guest.
Malacca River Graffiti Street Art
Walk along the Malacca River and witness the diverse scene of colonial mansions, café’s and guest houses beside high rise condominiums and newly minted hotels in the background. The bonus along the boardwalk is a majority of godown buildings covered in spray-paint murals commemorating the city and its culture, heritage as well as its attractions. Officially known as the Malacca River Art Project, the graffiti art is a showcase of talent by local graffiti artists, adding charm and uniqueness to the town.
The graffiti and murals one can find along the river is quite impressive ranging from bright colours to darker tones, reflecting on diverse subject matters. Some speaks of patriotism, few inspires a future Malaysia, while others with distinctive messages of unity with flair of Peranakan heritage.
What was deemed once as “illegal” because graffiti art signifies vandalism now became a form of creative expression and Malaysia is home to some of the best street arts in the world. This picturesque scene lining the Malaccan is another inspirational architecture of how simple colours can add life to the old boring white walls along the river, galvanising tourist as they stroll through the open-air art gallery.
Majid Selat | Straits Mosque
Incorporating architectural designs from the Middle East with local decorative elements, the floating Straits Mosque of Malacca is another spectacular sight at night when the whole building lights up. The design idea came from the former Malaccan state government chief minister Datuk Seri Mohammad Ali Rustam, who was inspired by a floating mosque during his visit to Jeddah.
Standing on a man-made island named Pulau Melaka (Malacca Island) above the waters of the Malacca Straits, the Straits Mosque looks like it’s floating when the tide is high.
Completed in 2006, the mosque’s most prominenet feature is its 30-metre high minaret which also functions as a lighthouse, acting as a guide for boats, ships and aircrafts. Apart from serving as a place of worship, it has also become a famous tourist destination.
The stained glass windows provide a striking contrast to the generally white building, while the utilisation of bamboo as a major aspect of its structure displays a Middle Eastern compositional style peppered with Malaysian beautifying components. The mosque showcases the magnificence and radiant current Islamic modelling.