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Ipoh Urban Mine, Community Center.

Ipoh Urban Mine is a community building in Ipoh, Malaysia. The Building is design to benefit the locals and in the same time raise awareness from tourists, youth and Malaysians about the rich history of this little mining town. 

In the 1880s, a Malay settlement along the Kinta River’s banks evolved into Ipoh. Its physical setting in the Kinta River’s rich tin-bearing basin made it a natural centre of expansion. Over half of the town was burned in the Great Fire of Ipoh in 1892, but it also provided a chance to reconstruct it in a more structured grid plan. In the years that followed, Ipoh was rebuilt in time for the second tin rush and experienced fast growth as a result of the thriving tin mining sector, especially in the 1920s and 1930s. The “New Town,” which stretches from the eastern bank of the Kinta River to Greentown, was first developed by wealthy Hakka miner Yau Tet Shin in the early 1930s. Ipoh took the place of Taiping as the seat of government for Perak in 1937.  On December 15, 1941, the Japanese stormed Ipoh. The Japanese Civil Administration, also known as Perak Shu Seicho, was established at St. Michael’s Institution in March 1942. Ipoh continued to serve as the state capital of Perak after British forces liberated Malaya, and it still does today.

In the latter half of the 20th century, the decline of the tin mining industry caused the growth of Ipoh to stagnate. With the closure of the tin mines, its urban population was forced to seek employment in other cities within Malaysia. In spite of this, Ipoh remains one of the largest cities in Malaysia in terms of population, with tourism now a main driver of the city’s economy.

Currently, Ipoh faces many problems, including the loss of Ipoh’s younger generations and labour force. Younger generations and the labour force are moving to KL and Penang to seek more working opportunities and bigger exposure for their businesses. Nowadays, “Ipoh’s local” may not be from Ipoh anymore in the future as they live somewhere else. This situation also leaves Ipoh town a place for old and “lifeless” people and broken families. Also, there is a lack of action in preserving and conserving Ipoh’s significant culture. Nowadays, Ipoh is just a passage from KL to Penang for most Malaysians. The rich history and culture have been neglected as well. Cultural activities, events, and centres cannot function properly with several old folks who have lost their passion long ago. The culture and history of Ipoh are shifting away, as now the focus is more on food. Besides, Ipoh is losing its notable identity and uniqueness. There is a lack of museums, culture learning centres, historical streets, and traditional crafts workshops for most people. However, everything unique about Ipoh is all around you: the beautiful mountains, lakes, stories of mining, richness of soil, Kinta River, etc. Lack of architecture to let these unique identities shine while at the same time spreading the pride of Ipoh citizens.

Therefore, I begin my design with local cuisine. Food and cooking are the best ways to interconnect with memories. The taste, smell, and texture of food can be extraordinarily evocative, bringing back memories not just of eating the food itself but also of the place and setting. Food is an effective way to trigger deeper memories of feelings and emotions, as well as internal states of the mind and body. Other than that, cuisine plays a vital role in culture in many ways. Food and food habits, as a basic part of culture, serve as a focus of emotional association, a channel of love, discrimination, and disapproval, and usually have symbolic references. The sharing of food symbolises a high degree of social intimacy and acceptance. In many cultures, food has a social or ceremonial role.

The façade of Ipoh Urban Mine is a homage to the old machine, or, in other words, “house” of the miners, the Tin Dredge. I designed the building to blur the boundaries between present and past with interactive frontage and connections to surrounding old buildings and historical walls. The facade is a screen to protect people from exterior heat and glare, as well as a canvas that captures the activities happening inside the building.

In the building, there are some highlighted activities that are always happening. There is a coffee-brewing workshop for foreign tourists and fellow Malaysians to experience. It is an authentic workshop for them to learn and experience the process and history of making delicious Ipoh white coffee. Al-Fresco Food Hub is located on the east side of the building. The hub is a journey designed to guide people through Ipoh’s local cuisine step by step. There are some guides and historical exhibitions for people to follow throughout these three-story structures. There are authentic food stalls selling breakfast, lunch, dessert, and small bites.

The festival square is designed for celebrating Chinese festivals, carnivals, events, exhibitions, public forums, government activities, etc. Without a doubt, there will be some amenities that are always available for the locals. The vulnerable groups and low-income communities will benefit from this building, such as the community kitchen, the food bank, and the conversation corner for some meditation activities as well.

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