Chen Voon Fee Resource Centre – A Library on Malaysia’s Heritage Building Conservation

KL Stories
Chen Voon Fee Resource Centre – A Library on Malaysia’s Heritage Building Conservation
January 28, 2020

Chen Voon Fee Resource Centre (CVFRC) is a specialised library and information centre which houses a vast collection of documents, books, periodicals, journals, measured drawings, maps, slides and photographs related to Malaysian heritage.

Situated within the office complex for the Heritage of Malaysia Trust (Badan Warisan Malaysia, BWM) at Jalan Stonor, the CVFRC is regarded as the most comprehensive resource centre on heritage conservation. Topics covered range from architecture, heritage sites, history, culture, art, town planning and building maintenance, in line with BWM’s aim of preserving Malaysian heritage buildings.

The CVFRC was opened in the 1990s, and is named after the architect Chen Voon Fee, who was renowned for his building designs and conservation projects throughout the country. Some of his best-known restoration work include Central Market and the Creative Center for the Majestic Hotel when it was the National Art Gallery.

An award-winning architect, Chen designed the Singapore Conference Hall and Trade Union House (Dewan Persidangan Singapura dan Rumah Kesatuan Sekerja), the Negeri Sembilan State Mosque, and the Balai Ilmu complex within Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang just to name a few.

He was also one of the founding members of BWM, now a leading and NGO with a reputation for championing Malaysian heritage conservation projects for over thirty years. Chen was one of the driving forces behind BWM’s development until his passing in 2008.

Supported by the Chen Voon Fee Charitable Trust Fund, the CVFRC is open to the public, catering especially to researchers of Malaysian history and heritage, and those undertaking heritage restoration projects.

“University students from an architectural background, academicians, and professionals who are involved in conservation and construction projects often come to our library to do research work,” says Ida Laila Ishak, the librarian at CVFRC.

She adds, “We have built a wealth of information since the 1990s, covering all aspects of conservation. In fact, a large part of our library collection was inherited from Mr. Chen Voon Fee himself.”

One of the most interesting aspects of the resource centre is the Materials Section, which is a collection of building materials acquired from conservation and restoration works on heritage buildings. Students, researchers and professionals are encouraged to look, touch and feel these building materials to have a sense of the variety of style, expression and craftsmanship employed.

In recent years, BWM has been taking steps to increase visibility and general public awareness about CVFRC. The heritage trust has been collaborating with the government, local community groups, NGOs, the private sector and local universities, such as Taylor’s University and UCSI University, to organise events, exhibitions and lectures, while also promoting the resource centre across social media platforms.

“In addition, we have revamped our library management system and migrated our processes online,” Ida Laila says, explaining their efforts to make the resources easier to access.

“We are also in the process of digitizing old photographs from Chen Voon Fee and Badan Warisan’s collections. These photographs were mainly shot in the 1960s,” she adds.

Through these initiatives, BWM continues to raise awareness of heritage issues and to advocate for conservation efforts in Malaysia to ensure the survival of our built heritage.

The CVFRC is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 4pm. Researchers are recommended to register as Library Members (RM30 per year for full-time students and RM60 per year for the general public) to access privileges such as discounted photocopy charges and free use of resources within the membership period.

For more information, kindly contact the Librarian and Information Executive at +603-2144 9273 or email [email protected]