Heffrence Teow: The ReiFieR

Hai-P'ng (Heffrence) Teow

Currently a year 4 Master in Architecture student in Taylor's University, Malaysia.

Project name = The ReiFieR

Project program = Art institution

Tutor = Edward Chew

Contact = heffrence@gmail.com

Instagram = @heffrence

The current Klang Town, (located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) has been experiencing the efflux of local community over the years due to various social issues and the development of new townships at the fringe such as Setia Alam and Bukit Tinggi, which often promises better and modern living amenities. The limited market available due to the moving out of majority buying power has left a lot of business to fall and eventually closed down, leaving behind unoccupied shophouses. The efflux of middle-class community resulted in the fall of living standard, which then countered by the influx of foreign community, often lower-class that stemmed up a lot of social issue, such as gangsterism, alcoholism, drug addictions and robbery which to some point are synonym to the current Klang identity, contradicting the Royal, heritage value of it. And the deterioration does not stop here. The worsening condition of social issue encourages even more local community to make up their mind of moving out, and at the same time attracts the likes to the place.

The idea of rejuvenating the area revolves around the notion of gentrification by introducing an institution, imagining it as a form of city campus by injecting new community hence expanding the city activity level over a broader coverage, reactivating the idle street. However, despite the advantages, very often the term itself carries negative images such as driven out of existing community and conflict of cultural value. According to Charles Landry, usually this pessimism arises due to the fading sense of placeness by the local and feeling segregated, as they start to recognize themselves with interest rather than geographical identity. Yet, with no doubt issue such as security and businesses can only be solved as a collective effort from everyone developing mutual responsibilities to a place. A gentrification thus has to emphasize on interaction and exposure rather than concealing and segregation; on interculturalism rather than multiculturalism.

A new form of gentrification therefore required to promote interaction and creates exposure between the two communities, of new and existing. By putting this against the idea of urban revitalization via institution, the equivalent to the extrovert and bold nature of education is an art school, as art is often deemed as an expressive form of communication. The intention is through the use of an art institution as a form of catalyst to react against its surrounding generating a sharing platform that resonates among both communities, unveiling the blinds and misconception in between thus hoping to strengthen the mutual bond and sense of belonging. . Very often gentrification means introduction of a new community that could be easily isolated from the native, but here the intention is to maximize the interaction between the new and the existing so that there is no boundary drawn between.

The intention of The ReiFieR is to invert the envelop and the content, putting the ideas out as the façade contributing to an extrovert architecture. To do this, a study of how various arts are best display is important. This is achievable by grouping them into analogue art, for example fine art, and another group of digital art. This grouping also becomes like a split and dialogue within the reality and virtual world of art itself. Thus, the building massing is being separated into two, one on top of the other. The bottom massing then becomes the exhibition space of analogue arts, with shaded corridor running around connected with steps and seating for upclose experience of the art; the top massing then cladded with reflective panel, whereby it is animated with human activities on ground level, also doubling up as LCD screen for the projection of digital art as a lively building façade. Metaphorically, it becomes as if the virtual world is an apparent image of the actual world, holding up afloat incubated with imagination. The reflection also indicates an oscillation between virtual and reality, subconscious and consciousness, triggering imagination, and manifesting the dogma of art and creativity through the architecture language itself.