Located on Jalan Burmah, a major thoroughfare in George Town, Penang, and built in the early 1930s, the shophouse was designed in a strait heritage style. It stood strong for 86 years, but then in 2016, it caught fire triggered by a short circuit. In a normal situation, restoring a heritage house would be a delicate balance between rescuing the historical features and providing modern living spaces. But the fire damage was so extensive that most of the building components had to be stripped down completely.
THE FIRE DAMAGE
Picking up the pieces after a fire was a challenging task. The engineer investigated the effects on the interiors and on the condition of the main structural elements. Fire damage tends to be concentrated around window openings and doorways, but may also affect structural masonry. Stone can disintegrate at high temperatures; damage and colour changes at lower temperatures are also irreversible. Even smoke staining is already costly and difficult to treat.
Although the masonry structure remained intact, the restoration project still required reconstruction, aside from tasks such as debris, odour, soot and hazards removal (e.g., lead and asbestos). In other words, returning the property to pre-loss condition took substantial fire damage repairs, which included rebuilding and replacing the roof, electrical components, drywall, flooring materials and other interior fixtures.
The makeover began after all damages were repaired. Although the historical elements were practically gone, the designer was determined to retain its traditional essence. At the entrance, the screen is made of hand-carved panel doors. Behind this heritage element is a contemporary, minimal all-white interior that conjures up spaciousness. Going further, the windows, railing and decoration resemble the old style.
The layout was reconfigured significantly to adapt to the family’s requirements. Through thoughtful design, every square metre of this small footprint house is utilised to transform the original cramped home into spacious living spaces.
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From the Ashes
Jalan Burmah, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia
164.24 square metres
Gross Floor Area
183.06 square metres
Number of Rooms
Chuah Hee Pheow
Mei Ee Architect
Loh Mei Ee
Loh Mei Ee; Koay Chiang Teik; Nurardini Raihana Binti Rosmadi; Ahnaf Bin Samsury; Khor Yong Yin; Teh Rouyi; Nur Balqis Bt Mohd Wasri
Civil & Structural Engineer
GC Heritage Sdn Bhd
Lim Ni Fei; Koay Chiang Teik; Ken Yeoh; Loh Mei Ee