5 Buildings in Malaysia That Went Through Adaptive Reuse

Converting old buildings with a fresh purpose

Malaysia is a rapidly developing nation with many state of the art buildings and skyscrapers. These developments are a result of a steady upward trend in urbanisation. With these rapid developments, old and historical buildings tend to be forgotten amongst newer and upcoming projects.

To overcome this issue, many creative individuals have started utilising the adaptive reuse concept which aims to breathe new life into old or historical buildings. This concept is also supported by the United Nations’ sustainability goals.

Here are some of the unique buildings that have been rejuvenated with fresher looks and newer purpose in Malaysia.

#1 Hin Bus Depot

The Hin Bus Depot, as the name suggests, was a depot built by the Hin company in 1947 for their buses that roamed the Penang Island. The Hin buses were known for their signature blue colour and their routes of Teluk Bahang and Tanjung Bungah.

After the Hin company had shut down their operations, the building was left vacant for many years. The building came anew in the year 2014 when it housed its first art exhibition titled “Art is Rubbish is Art” by the famous mural artist Ernest Zacharevic.

Since then, Hin Bus Depot has gone through an evolution. It has grown to become a hub for arts, crafts, food and events. Hin Bus Depot now has seen the likes of fashion shows, art exhibitions and small markets, making it a popular tourist spot.

Operating hours:Everyday, 10am to 10pm (Subject to changes during public holidays)
Admission: Free
Address: 31A Jalan Gurdwara, 10300 George Town, Penang.

#2 RexKL

Once a glorified cinema in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, then known as Rex Cinema has seen major fire accidents that eventually led to its shutdown in 2002. Rex Cinema was built in 1947, making it one of the first theatres in Malaysia.

After years of abandonment, RexKL was brought to life in 2019 when a group of creative visionaries led by Shin Tseng and Shin Chang decided to revamp this 60,000 sq. ft. building. Their vision was to create a versatile platform for new businesses, cultural events and various kinds of creative programmes.

Now, RexKL is home to various well-known retail shops such as Book Xcess, Starbucks and proudly hosts community events as well.

Operating hours: Everyday, 10am to 10pm (Subject to changes during public holidays)
Tuesdays to Thursdays (10am to 10pm), Friday and Saturday (10am-12am).
Closed on Mondays.
Admission: Free
Address: REXKL, 80 Jalan Sultan, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

#3 Heritage Flavours

Heritage Flavours is situated in a 200 year old building that was built during the Dutch era a little over 200 years ago in Malacca. This quaint restaurant is conjoined with a Nyonya clothing boutique that is situated at the front area of the shop lot.

Heritage Flavours is known for its well priced food and Insta-worthy backdrops. It possesses the ‘back-in-the-day’ vibes with the high ceilings, floors and choice of furniture. Thus, invoking a nostalgic feeling amongst its visitors. The menu sticks true to its roots with primary dishes paying homage to Nyonya delights accompanied with desserts and coffees.

Operating hours: Monday, Wednesday to Sunday (9am to 6pm). Closed on Tuesdays
Address: 63, Lorong, Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, Taman Kota Laksamana, 75200 Malacca

#4 Just Want Coffee (JWC), The Factory 30

JWC, The Factory 30 is located in Taman Mount Austin industrial area. At this point, you may have a thought or two on the choice of location considering industrial areas are known for factories and not cafes.

However, this out-of-the-way location is what attracts many food lovers’ attention. Functioning as a coffee lover’s paradise, patrons are able to enjoy an array of coffee with full on meals and desserts. JWC,The Factory 30 was formed after the owners had decided to repurpose an old building in the industrial area. Hence, the word ‘factory’ in its name.

They are known for their special barista brewed coffee and Western-Asian fusion menu.

Operating hours: Everyday, 11am to 11pm
Address: 30, Jalan Mutiara Emas 5/3, Taman Mount Austin, 81100, Johor Bahru, Johor

#5 Telekom Museum

Before it became a museum, this premise was a manual telephone exchange place built in the year 1928. Then, it grew to become British Malaya’s first mechanical exchange a decade later.

This neoclassical building narrowly escaped demolition in the mid 1980s when the then government had the idea of turning it into a museum. With over three floors, the exhibits explain the development of morse code telegraph to digital technology by incorporating some interactive elements along the way.

Operating hours: Everyday, 9am to 5pm (Closed on public holidays). Admission fee apply.
Address: Muzium Telekom, Jalan Raja Chulan, 50200 Kuala Lumpur

Sources: VisitKL, Hin Bus Depot’s official website, RexKL’s official website, JWC, The Factory 30’s official Facebook