The Art Deco architecture style, defined as detailed and bold geometric shapes with vivid colors was popular in the 1920s and 1930s. This architecture style, although seemingly popular in Europe at that time, caught on in Malaysia in the 1930s, especially in major cities like KL, Penang and Ipoh. Here we look at the historic buildings in KL that bear testament to that era of style.
Originally built in 1888 as a wet market to serve the China Town area, the Central market completed major reconstruction in 1937 where the building took on its Art Deco façade. The building, located on Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock and Jalan Hang Kasturi, has been classified as a Heritage Site by the Malaysian Heritage Society.
The OCBC Building at the junction of Jalan Hang Kasturi and Leboh Pasar near the Central Market, was built in 1937 to house the Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation Limited’s HQ in Malaysia. The OCBC Building is now known as Urbanscapes House after its HQ moved to another building on Jalan Tun Perak.
The Oriental Building on Jalan Tun Perak was officially launched by the British Resident of Selangor, Mr. T.S. Adams in December 1932. The Straits Times reported the launch naming the 82 feet, five-storey building the “Tallest building in Kuala Lumpur”. The building was home to Radio Malaya until 1968, and had underground parking for bicycles.
The Lee Rubber Building at the corner of Jalan Tun H. S. Lee and Jalan Hang Lekir is a four-storey development built by the Lee Rubber Company in 1930. For years, the Lee Rubber Building housed the Popular Bookstore up till its sale in 2015. DBKL has prohibited this heritage building’s demolition or any significant structural alteration to the heritage building.