The Merdeka Interviews: Architects, Engineers and Artists of Malaysia's Ind...

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The URA Centre, Function Hall, Level 5

45 Maxwell Road

Singapore 069118


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Between 2001 and 2006, architectural historian Lai Chee Kien conducted a series of interviews with the key architects, engineers and artists who contributed to the landscape of Kuala Lumpur and its outskirts at the time of Independence. The ten projects – Merdeka Stadium, Merdeka Park, University of Malaya, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, Stadium Negara, Muzium Negara, Parliament House, Masjid Negara, Tugu Negara and Subang Airport – endowed the capital city with key structures for a functioning nation, and created fervour towards the sense of citizenship in Malaysia.

In collaboration with architect Ang Chee Cheong, these 17 interviews have been edited into a single volume for the first time, titled The Merdeka Interviews. Read collectively and inter-textually, they reveal not only the protagonists’ roles and work in shaping these architectural icons, but also the milieus, circumstances and larger historical contexts during which they practised. The book’s publication is relevant and timely, as we look back in time to discover the courage and spirit that forged a nation of peoples from multiple origins in the first decade of Independence, and their endowments on the landscape of Kuala Lumpur today. As a group of voices, it tells not only a history of the nation’s architecture and buildings at its birth, but altogether the story of Malaysia.

featuring :

Kington Loo

Philip Chow

Ronald Pratt

Baharuddin Kassim

Hisham Albakri

W. Ivor Shipley

Chuah Thean Teng

Ho Kok Hoe

Waverney Jenkins

Cheong Laitong

Dudley Pritchard

Lai Lok Kun

C. Raymond Honey

George Atkinson

Ismail Mustam

Lee Kwok Thye

Stanley E. Jewkes

About the Speakers

LAI CHEE KIEN is an architectural and urban historian. He is a registered architect in Singapore, and graduated with a PhD in History of Architecture & Urban Design from the University of California, Berkeley (2005). He researches on histories of art, architecture, settlements, urbanism and landscapes in Southeast Asia. His publications include a translation – A Brief History of Malayan Art (1999), as well as Building Merdeka: Independence Architecture in Kuala Lumpur, 1957-1966 (2007) and The Singapore Chronicles: Architecture (2019). The co-authored work Building Memories: People, Architecture, Independence was awarded Book of the Year for the Singapore Book Awards in 2017.

ANG CHEE CHEONG is an independent architect, writer and curator based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He maintains a broad interest in art, media, technology, politics and culture; supporting a strong conviction in architecture as an agency for social organisation and transformation. Ang was the Director and Chief Curator for the revamped Kuala Lumpur Architecture Festival 2017 and 2018, and also edited the Architecture Malaysia (AM) magazine from 2017 to mid 2019. He maintains an open, collaborative office and works with a wide network of individuals and organisations locally and abroad.

Additional Information


The Merdeka Interviews: Lai Sui Mui - tribute to women nation builders

BOA/SIA CPD Point Accreditation

This talk is accredited 2 points under the BOA/SIA Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Programme. Architects are to register at both the start and the end of the session.

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The URA Centre, Function Hall, Level 5

45 Maxwell Road

Singapore 069118


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