MAINTENANCE MANAGEMENT OF HISTORIC BUILDINGS IN MALAYSIA
With rapid development taking place on the urban areas, there is an urgent need on protecting the historical building. Conservation is an approach that may ensure preservation of the historical building with the main intention of prolonging the buildings’ life. When discussing the topic conservation, it should be noted that it is related to the maintenance works. In another meaning, conservation requires maintenance works as much as the preservation works as maintenance ensures that buildings will be continuously maintained. The fact that both conservation and maintenance are relatively new fields in Malaysia states the reason on the lack of proper management, policy development and implementation of these two areas.
3. Background to the Research
At present, historical conservation is becoming one of the issues being focused upon by the Government of Malaysia and this has contributed to the emergence and deep awareness of the conservation movement. The importance of conservation of historical buildings relates to cultural and historical value and the need to retain Malaysia’s built heritage. Also, it benefits the tourism industry in which the historical destinations have marked distinctive growth and generated income to this sector over recent years.
Bell (1997) defined the main purpose behind the work of conservation as “…to safeguard the site’s value and to protect society’s interest”. Almost every historic site has some value worth protecting. However, in practice not all parts of the site can be protected.
Modern development has eliminated the continuity and intimacy of the traditional streetscape and shophouses typology, besides introducing new problems that threaten the character and environment of old parts of the town. Conservation should not be undertaken unless adequate resources are available to ensure that the fabric is not left in a vulnerable state and that the cultural significance of the place is not impaired. However, it must be emphasized that the best conservation often involves the least work and can be inexpensive. Conservation of a place should take into consideration all aspects of its cultural significance without unwarranted emphasis on any one at the expense of others.
Some sectors may argue why bother to save these buildings because they represent the relentless political pressures when the European Colonial Government extended their control over Malaya in the early 16th Century. However, looking from the historical viewpoint, the conservation of historic buildings not only benefits the future generations as at the same time, historic buildings may generate income for the tourism sector. There will be nothing left to remind us of the past. The important thing is that these building are stylish and have architectural value that cannot be found from new buildings.
Many of our town centers are facing uncontrolled development that has drastically altered the shape and character with poor streetscape and environment. In the quest for modern urban forms, evidence of centuries of history is vanishing in many Malaysian towns. The buildings that remain evoke memories of a distinctive tropical way of life reflecting the urban architectural tradition of Malaysia. They are slowly disintegrating under the shadow of uncontrolled development.
With his call, in 1897, to “…put protection in the place of restoration, to stave of decay by daily care”, William Morris (1877) highlighted importance that maintenance plays in protecting historic buildings.
National and international guidelines all emphasize the importance of regular maintenance based on the principle of minimal intervention. The Burra Charter (ICOMOS, Australia 1979) defines conservation as being “all of the processes of looking after a place so as to retain cultural significance”. It goes on to state that ‘the...