This corporate social responsibility project initiated by the Penang local council, Majlis Bandaraya Pulau Pinang (MBPP), sought to change the common perception of back lanes as narrow, smelly and unsafe due to bad drainage and lack of maintenance.
The 135-metre-long back lane between Jalan Magazine & Jalan Gurdwara, George Town, Penang, has been transformed into a lively community hood, without losing its existing character.
For example, the existing rusty corrugated metal roof deck hoarding was retained, but a new white metal screen has been layered over it for aesthetics. The voids puncturing through the screen allow the public to see what is behind, as a tribute to the existing language of the back lane and to add a sense of belonging and familiarity.
Geometric-shaped canvas sheets strung above the street form an eye-catching entrance statement and serves as a nod to the old Penang-styled markets. A total of 870 square metres has been paved over with interlocking bricks and recycled timber designs. The once dim and unkempt back lane is now brightly lit with street lamps, resulting in a play of light and shadows at night when reflected off the metal screens.
The plan to create a garden with potted plants as a landscaping element was met with resistance from the local authorities due to need for care. The solution was then to engage the community to take care the planters themselves. A list of plants was recommended by the landscape department, and the residents chose the plants they wanted, which were then provided in a cylinder planter box. The sense of ownership and cooperation from local residents made the back lane a livelier and greener place.
The rejuvenated back lane is now a proud local attraction and site for community festivities, a public space where people can come and engage with one another. — Construction+ Online
Project Name: Backlane Upgrading Works Connecting Jalan Magazine & Jalan Gurdwara
Location: George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Completion Date: 20 October 2017
Length of Road: 135 metres
Developer: M Summit Global Sdn Bhd
Owner: Majlis Bandaraya Pulau Pinang (MBPP)
Architecture Firm: CKHO Architect
Principal Architect: Ar Ho Chin Keng
Civil & Structural Engineer: Perunding CAK
Mechanical & Electrical Engineer: Perunding Semangat
Main Contractor: M Summit Builders Sdn Bhd
Images: CKHO Architect