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Roof in Central Market come in two types which are barrel vaulted roof,and skylight
glazed roof (Figure 14). However there is no leakage found during rainy days (there was heavy
rain during site visit) and the skylight glazed roof also provide sufficient light into the market and
act as a good energy saver.

Figure 14: Skylight glazed roof along the center of central market
Source : Field study 2009

(d)Doors and Windows

Doors and windows in central market are entirely made up from blue green colorex glass
with metal grilled stepped designed added with some Art deco motive moulded decorations.
There is no broken glass or crack found in any part of window or doors. All windows are fixed
window as the central market is fully air conditioned. Overall windows and doors is in very good

Figure 15: Two types of windows at central market.

Source: Field Study 2009

2.4 Significant Of Conserving Central Market

At first, there are many shop houses near to the Central Market. When UDA Sdn Bhd
decided to demolished all the shop houses, Central Market got 175 car parks at its main
entrance. This gave advantages to the local visitors and tourists to park their vehicles near to
the entrance and no need to walk faraway.

Preservation has been made to its original Art Deco features, blue-green heat resistant
glass, metal grill work and strongly moulded friezes. This can perpetuate the originality of
specialty of early Central Market. Before this, the building used load bearing party walls without
damp proof course. In order to conserve the building, the walls were injected with chemical that
provide damp proof course. This can prevent any rising damp that can destroy the building

The timber floors have been rebuilt and upgraded to a multilayered sandwich using
gypsum boards. These changes gave the floors fire proofing to minimize ruination if there is any
emergency case. It also gave Central Market prestige when it became to a ‘modern historical

All the original exterior facades glazed by blu-green heat resistant Calorex glass and
moulded friezes, with the original colours; pastel pinks and baby blue, have been restored.
These gave a very good perception to the visitors and the building itself can perpetuate its

The building enhanced its charm and character as a cultural centre through the
refurbishment works at its interior. The visitors can feel as they were in Central Market long
time ago and the tourists can gain knowledge about Malaysian culture through the shops in it.

Nowadays, Central Market used fixed windows due to the retrofitted air-conditioning in
the building. The installation of air-conditioning in Central Market is to give comfort ability to the
visitors and tourist as the climate in Malaysia is hot.

2.5 Changes in Building by Elements

Element/Design Description

Before 1888, there is no building façade for central market, it’s a

large square open area where people selling wet stuff (see figure
16), then, after government have build a building in 1890, it
Layout and floor become a ‘box’ shape and some refurbishment afterwards (see
building chronology pg 15), in 1909, central market’s layout is like
‘I’ shape, (see figure 17). Extension process has taken place in
1920 where it become wider and longer (figure 18). In 1986, after
renovation for adaptive reuse, central market layout has become
a trapezoidal shape until today (figure 17).
The first roof for central market which is in 1890 is made up from
zinc sheet with pitched roof design, then during extension in
1907, roof material have changed from zinc sheet to asbestos
sheet( figure 17) and re-roofing process with the same material
have taken place in 1923. In 1936, whole building has been
demolished and a new central market roof is made up from
concrete with flat roof design added with a glazed colorex tinted
skylight running along the middle atrium (figure 21). In 1986,
adaptive reuse has taken place, and a pair of barrel-vaulted roof
made up from colorex-tinted glass, steel trusses and metal sheet
has been added on the roof to enhance natural lighting (figure
23) and it is remain until today.

In 1888, British government has design central market with

Floor concrete tile (figure 21) and floor re-rendering process with the
same material taken places in 1912, and it remained until 1986,
and after that, the floor have been tiled with two types of tiles
which are terracotta tile and ceramic tile till today.

Central Market’s wall have been fully made up from timber since
British government has built the central market building in 1888
until the construction of new central market in 1936 where all
peripheral wall is made up from 4 inches brickwork and remained
until today (figure 20 and figure 22). However, the shop’s wall in
Wall the cluster is excluded from previous statement as the shop’s
owner have been given permission to design their shops
according to their own style and therefore the shop’s wall
currently made up from various types of material such as timber,
glass and brick. 1986, natural ventilation louvers under the
parapet wall were sealed with colorex tinted glass as it use fully
mechanical ventilation afterwards.

Windows and Doors Windows and doors before1936 is made up from timber and
have changed to colorex tinted glass in 1936 during restoration of
central market.

During adaptive reuse rehabilitation in 1986, three sky bridges

(figure 23), six double storey clusters and a mezzanine floor have
Other elements been built in the central market, some new column have been
built to support some of new structure including water tanks, all
columns and beams are made up from concretes after 1986 and
before that, are made up from timber.
Figure 16: Central Market area in 1887



Figure 17: Central Market in 1909 (left) and 1986

Existing Area

Open Area
l New Area

Figure 18: Central Market layout plan in 1920


Figure 19: Central Market’s layout plan

Figure 20: Central Market’s entrance view in 1983(left) and 2008

Figure 21: Central Market inside view in 1983(left) and 2008

Source: and
Figure 22: Central Market inside view in 1987(right) and 2008
Source: and

Figure 23: Barrel vaulted roof, stairs (left) and sky bridge

In years of 1970’s, Central Market together with the old shop houses near to it acquired
by the Urban Development Authority (UDA) was to be demolished for Dayabumi Phase V, a
multi-million dollar development of highrise offices, hotels and shops. Concerned citizens group,
Heritage of Malaysia Trust campaigned for its conservation and possible reuse as the home of
Malaysia’s National Art Gallery, then about to be evicted from its former premises in 1983, but to
not avail. In order to serve the local population, government had proposed 3 new wet markets to
take the place of Central Market, which are located in Taman Maluri Cheras, TTDI Damansara
and 4.8th km Jalan Gombak. The 835 stall tenants (only 641 licensed stallholders) have been
asked to move from Central Market.
Figure 24: Central Market - Old market Kuala Lumpur

With the economic downturn coupled with the glut of office and commercial space on the
property market, government agreed to the developer’s proposal to save Central Market. A
window of opportunity presented Central Market itself during the economic downturn and over
building at the time seized by the enlightened developers with vision. It was the first major
adaptive reuse project of Harta Bumi Sdn. Bhd., a private developer. The historical ambience is
maintained and even enhanced.

However, the shop houses on the north of the Central Market have been demolished
before the decision of the new proposal. The site was then turned into car park for the Central
Market. The central location in its historic setting with pedestrian routes and available car park
was a real estate dream site for heritage conservation development.

In 15th of April 1986 Central Market reopened and has been turned into Cultural Market.
It has since being classified as a Heritage Site by the Malaysian Heritage Society and it is now a
landmark for Malaysian Culture and Heritage displaying a wide variety of Malaysian Arts and
Handicrafts, Batik, Antiques and attractive souvenirs. The success of the Central Market in its
new role gives similar buildings a new lease of life. Therefore, architecturally interesting
buildings need not be demolished to give way for new development.
Figure 25: Success of Central Market for being awarded “The BrandLaureate SMEs Chapter
Awards” in Year 2007 (left) and 2008 (right)



Central Market, currently a cultural market, is the most successful example of adaptive
reuse the existing historical building. The credit goes to Heritage of Malaysia Trust who
campaigned for its conservation and adaptive reuse.

The realization of Central Market is a result of many factors. They include increasing public
awareness on heritage issues, suitable economic conditions, politic support, enlightened
developers with definite visions, responsive bureaucracies, committed and dedicated designer.
Public response is quite overwhelming up to now. The superb location should ensure its
continued success.
The success of the Central market in its new role gives similar buildings in the Old Town
a new lease of life. Its historical ambience is maintained and even enhanced. Therefore
architecturally interesting buildings need not be demolished to make way for new development.
Conservation can be a positive planning tool for urban development in Third World Countries.

Government   take   care   of   these   cultural   and   heritage   sites   in   order   to   appreciate   the   world 


By the conservation and adaptive reuse, we are able to keep the sense of human scale
and homeliness that the old buildings have while keeping our heritage and our identity in the city


1. A. Ghafar Ahmad. (1997). British Colonial Architecture. Malaysia: Museums Association

of Malaysia.

2. A. Ghafar Ahmad. ( Edited 2008). Conservation Bodies. Heritage

Conservation. Acquired Janaury 21, 2009 dari World Wide Web :