Imagine reading in the natural sunlight and gazing out a bay window at patches of greenery, or sitting by the window to read, daydream or just stare at the moving clouds. When you visit the Kedah Digital Library (KDL) in Alor Setar, that’s some of the experiences you can expect!
Kedah Digital Library (KDL) is located in an existing two-storey Anglo-Indian bungalow known as the Memorial Tunku Abdul Rahman Building in Alor Setar, on a 2.13-acre site nestled amidst rain trees. The Memorial Tunku Abdul Rahman Building is an iconic landmark loaded with historical significance and charm.
It embodies a “library in a park” concept as it’s located next to Alor Setar’s largest urban park, Taman Jubli Perak.
In addition to refurbishing the main bungalow, the project also involved the addition of a new Annex Building. Completed in February this year, the library will be officially launched soon.
Designed by BEu Tan Architect (Beta), KDL won a gold medal in the Adaptive Reuse category of this year’s PAM (Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia) Awards.
The fundamental idea of the KDL project, explained architect Tan Bee Eu, principal of Beta, was to preserve the colonial bungalow’s architecture and maintain a connection with nature.
KDL’s design concept revolves around being heritage-sensitive, celebrating nature and paying homage to Alor Setar’s historical urban fabric,Architect Tan Bee Eu, principal of Beta
KDL is divided into the main Mansion Library, the core of the library mostly with reading spaces, and the new Annex Building, which houses the Amphitheatre, Community Hall and the Putra Gallery.
The Mansion Library has brainstorming rooms and a cosy playroom overlooking the garden that includes old-school board games for children to VR headsets for adults.
The architect has always been a fan of the idea of a library where readers may relax by the window and read, daydream or simply observe the passing clouds. Adding that their main aim was to infuse the interior spaces with much natural lighting, she said:
At the Mansion, we designed bay window seats where you can lean by the window to read without any cold harsh artificial lighting,Architect Tan Bee Eu, Principal of Beta
The Annex Building is made up of two rectangular blocks with varying-sized louvres with a wood-like appearance that assist filter direct sunlight while allowing views of the outside.
The Annex was meant to accommodate events, lectures and larger meeting groups. As a result, this led to the creation of open-concept Amphitheatre seats that overlook the lawn.
The Community Hall features narrow slits of skylight at both sides of the hall, allowing natural light to brighten the space. Able to accommodate 180 persons at full capacity, the hall can also be subdivided into three smaller function rooms.
A new Putra Gallery that is next to the community hall was suggested as a homage to the original Memorial Tunku Abdul Rahman in the Mansion Library. It celebrates the life of Tunku and has the capacity to hold art exhibitions.
We strongly believe that every community deserves a central hub to meet, interact and learn. A digital library is a great way to redefine and rejuvenate the role of a public library as a community hub.Architect Tan Bee Eu, principal of Beta
Tan revealed that their own design principle is that the architecture should never be more overpowering than the park nor the colonial building. The team encountered a few minor obstacles while remodelling the original Memorial building.
Compared to designing a new building, working on the colonial Memorial demanded high sensitivity of what’s already built on-site and a creative mindset to transform the old into new in a seamless way.
Being faithful to our concept of celebrating nature, we maintained all existing trees on the site, including several lush rain trees. The new Annex Building had to be redrawn and tweaked several times to carefully embrace the existing trees without causing harm to their roots.Architect Tan Bee Eu, principal of Beta
Tan said they found the entire process of converting a bungalow into a community centre to be very difficult but satisfying. She hopes that individuals will be inspired and delighted by the area.
Tan, an architect who is concerned about sustainability, also hopes that the KDL project would encourage additional initiatives that involve adaptive reuse.
For more information, visit KDL’s Facebook and Instagram.
Source: The Star
Read more on 211-Year-Old Temple In Penang Wins UNESCO Award Of Merit and Getting An Upgrade & Becoming A New Landmark In Sarawak