Kuala Lumpur, 16th January 2023 – Since 2013, The University of Kansas, Lawrence, the United States, has chosen Malaysia as one of the countries to be a case study for its Study Abroad program. The sixth Malaysia Architectural Study Tour, which took place between the 5th and 15th of January, received an unexpected response. The previous Architectural Study Tour was held in January 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to halt the program for two years. This time, 45 students, including two faculty members from Kansas University participated.
According to Professor of Architecture Dr Kapila Silva, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) at the School of Architecture and Design, the University of Kansas, the rapidly developing Malaysia is rich in culture, which has been portrayed through its architectural designed buildings, heritage trails and cultural places. They also feel welcome in this country every time they visit Malaysia. Institut Sultan Iskandar (ISI), supported by the Architecture Program, Faculty of Built Environment and Surveying, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), has provided a 10-day, 9-night tour covering states of Johor, Negeri Sembilan, Melaka, Perak, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Selangor. The Director of Malaysia Architectural Study Tour ISI UTM, Dr Wan Nurul Mardiah Wan Mohd Rani, stated that Malaysia architecture offers a different experience from the Modern Architectural Era (1955-1970) through the Postmodern Era (1971-1990) and the Global Era (1991- 2017). Our developing architectural design always provided something to look into and learn. Thus, ISI provides a new and exciting agenda every time the University of Kansas visits the country.
The program visited places with traditional architecture and award-winning iconic architecture in Malaysia. The traditional buildings visited are the traditional National Mosque, the Central Market, the Sultan Abdul Samad building, and the Masjid Jamek represent Modern Early Architecture. The global Era is represented by skyscrapers, such as the Petronas Twin Towers and Kuala Lumpur Tower. Also included are buildings with unique concepts, such as the PAM Center, Tamarind Square, University Petronas and Heriot-Watt University, Malaysia Campus. The visits also feature architects of the selected buildings, such as Dato’ Dr Ar Ken Yeang, Ar Razin Mahmood, Ar Azman Zainal and Ar Wooi Lok Kuang. This year, the tour highlights the newly launched Malaysia Heritage Studios Melaka (formerly known as Mini Malaysia Melaka), which displays newly renovated traditional houses of Malaysia.
Not only that, this program also introduces the Putrajaya administrative centre, which represents the new and planned city development. Tours include the Sultan Mizan Mosque, Dataran Putra, the Boulevard, and Putrajaya Cruise. In the meantime, DBKL efforts to create urban space have led to historical heritage in Kuala Lumpur, such as the River of Life and Kuala Lumpur Back Lanes.
The welcoming sessions were held at UTM, Johor Bahru on the 5th of January. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Development), Prof. Ts. Dr. Mohd Hamdan Bin Ahmad, the Executive Director of ISI, Prof. Dr. Syed Ahmad Iskandar Bin Syed Ariffin and the Director of the Architecture Program, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Alice Sabrina Binti Ismail were also present. On the last day of their visit, a memorable farewell dinner was held at Menara Kuala Lumpur.