Thursday May 31, 2012
Adapting building designs
THE proposal by the local government of Kota Baru to include a dome-shaped element in the Kelantan Buddhist Association complex is an act that can hardly be accepted.
This insistence by an officer of the local government reflects his inadequacies on the history of architecture and his lack of professionalism in and understanding of town planning.
Building design is a wide subject and it also has a great impact on the lives of people as well as development of a country.
Factors to be considered in the design of buildings include structural strength, cost of construction, local weather and environment, and cultural aspirations of the people.
For these reasons, many institutes of higher learning throughout the world have renamed their building construction faculty as faculty of built environment to truly reflect the role of building construction in the comfort living of human beings and sustainable development of the world.
Even though the shape and appearance of a building reflects the culture and aspiration of the people, it does not necessary symbolise a religion.
It is a great mistake to generalise a building with a pagoda and Buddha statue as a Mahayana Buddhist temple, a dome-shaped building as a mosque and a Cathedral-style building as a church.
Buddhism, which originated from India, was able to grow in China and blossom in Japan because it was able to adapt to the local cultures and living styles.
Likewise, through adaptation of local cultures including in architecture, science and technology, Islam became more and more influential and a living religion.
The oldest mosque in Malacca does not have a dome but instead has Chinese and Indian architectural elements in it, and this has not made it lose its function as a place of prayer for Muslims.
The National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur features a 16-pointed star concrete main roof that truly reflects the aspirations of the people and the nation, yet it functions very well and efficiently as a mosque.
The insistence on conformity to design based on the religious view of a given group will give rise to confusion, increase in costs, delay in construction and other shortcomings which eventually will reduce the competitiveness and attraction of a city.
GOH HOE HOE,