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Untold Stories of Ipoh revealed in Familiar Spaces Exhibition

06 August 2012

Students and mentors involved in the project

Some of the exhibits at NUS Museum

From now until 26 August, NUS Museum is hosting an exhibition entitled "Familiar Spaces Untold Stories: Encounters with Ipoh" put together by 20 architecture students from NUS School of Design and Environment and the University of Malaya (UM) Faculty of Built Environment. The cultural and social fabric of this former "Tin Capital of the World" and its architectural heritage are exhibited in the form of sketches, drawings, photographs and models.

The showcase comes about from a two-week trip to the West Malaysian town of Ipoh where the students studied the city's heritage, assessed its current state of development, and conducted detailed exploration on four shophouses - a trade house, a Sinhalese bar, a charcoal vendor's shop and a seamstress' modern shophouse. The buildings, along with Ipoh's citizenry, comprise an intricate narrative fabric woven from the untold stories and familiar spaces of Old Town and New Town. The fabric defines a cultural richness that appears to resist the test of time.

The telling of Ipoh's heritage poses a challenging task since much of its luster from the past has dimmed. But with a rigorous study of the urban issues concerning its current state and an understanding of the perspectives of the people who call it home, the city's historical essence can be appreciated through the students' perceptive portrayal of its subtle nuances.

A project from the UM-NUS Joint Studio Programme started in 2005 in conjunction with the centenary celebrations of the two Universities, the programme has been funded by the Tan Chin Tuan Foundation. The first exhibition entitled "Re:Claiming Heritage" was presented at NUS Museum in 2009, followed by "Tracing Taiping" and "Narrating Muar" in subsequent years.

By NUS Museum and NUS Department of Architecture