Category Archives: buildings

Homes On The Range

Each of the 3888 units of dwelling in the 9 blocks of flats gave thousands of economically-disadvantaged folks a home – well, no buffaloes roamed, and no deer and antelopes played, but never mind.

They were tiny, averaging only 360 sq feet!   Built in the mid-to-end 1960s, the Rifle Range Flats, Penang, were the first high-rise apartments in the state.  I still remember watching intently from the adjacent Batu Gantong cemetery as the pre-cast concrete slabs were lifted up by cranes and put into place.  Many people in Penang wondered if this kind of ‘Lego block’ assembly technique was safe.

Well, nearly 50 years have gone by, and they are still standing there as solid as ever.  Unfortunately the super-high density design spawned many social problems that have worsened over the years.

I believe the Federal government has a plan to demolish these flats and re-develop the area. 

Calling A Spade A Spade ?

Sometime in 1970s, on a visit to my relatives in KL, two iconic buildings caught my attention, namely the Parliament House and, Wisma Angkasapuri.    The simple elegance exuded by the geometric orderliness of the facades had (and still have) a curious attraction for me.

Wisma Angkasapuri really struck me — I asked my uncle who was driving us, “Why do they put up so many spades on the outside walls ?”  Well, according to the architects, “the shield-like form at the facade was inspired by the shell of a horseshoe crab….” oh ya ke ?

Perhaps the architects were asked to convey an unspoken message, that messages beamed from this tower would be truthful, calling a spade a spade, 296 times over — no craps, or crabs, horseshoe type or otherwise !  Hear ! Hear !