Wednesday, 29 June 2016

KL City Gallery

I was going to walk around KL Historic City Centre, which is the area surrounding the Padang or Independence Square. I asked the taxi to drop me off at KL City Gallery as this is probably the easiest name to tell the driver. As it turned out, this was the best place to start the walk. This gallery - more accurate museum - gives you a good tour, led by a guide who would clue you up with a quick info about KL's history, developments, etc before the start of your trip.

This is a free admission (when i was here). A nice service provided by the Malaysian tourism authority.

Art Installation, KL City Gallery, KL, Malaysia 
KL City Gallery, KL, Malaysia
Top:  KL City Gallery. The domed building behind it is City Library.
Left:  This installation outside is one of the city most photographed object.

History Exhibits, KL City Gallery, KL, Malaysia
KL's history on the fly.

Architecture Exhibits, KL City Gallery, KL, Malaysia

Batik Exhibits, KL City Gallery, KL, Malaysia
Exhibits about Malaysian batik

At the end of the tour is a multimedia light display accompanied by a large wooden model of the whole KL City. The presentation was especially showcasing the tall buildings, and Petronas Twin Towers is such proud recent addition. A tall building that stands above the rest is KL118.

Architectural city Model of KL, KL City Gallery, KL, Malaysia
The tourist kid was probably pointing at KL118

As i mentioned in a post about my visit to Petronas Twin Towers that the said towers stood as the tallest building in the world for 6 years until it was superseded by Taipei 101. Well, KL118 is a revenge for that loss (i'm sure nobody in KL would characterize it that way. But the name demands it. "We're going to overtake you, Taipei 101").

Well, Petronas Twin Towers had been an international landmark, but it has been almost 20 years, so it's time for a new icon, but much taller. If you're short, nobody can see you (not from a distance).

As the name suggests, Taipei 101 (508m tall), has 101 floors. And so KL118 (664m tall) is therefore has 118 floors. Yes, this race to the sky is very much alive in Asia (China, ME, and SE Asia), and the multimedia video and this city model makes it clear.

Architectural city Model of KL, KL City Gallery, KL, Malaysia
A spotlight is being placed on KL118 during the video presentation

Clearly, '8' is an important number in KL's landmark property developments. Petronas Twin Towers has 88 floors (and completed in 1998. '9' is also an auspicious number), and so the number '8' is once again incorporated into KL118 (98 floors is lower than Taipei 101, and even 108 floors are too short nowadays to qualify in the Tall Building race).

High real-estate values demand high buildings. Comparing to nearly all SE Asian cities, KL's population is relatively low and so its relative real estate values aren't high. You know this is the case because if you walk around KL, it doesn't feel crowded at all.

HK, in contrast, where its real-estate is the highest in Asia, and 2nd highest in the world, it demands supertall skyscrapers to make economic sense. But there are reasons other than economics that KL wants to enter this race.

One reason is that tall buildings would put a city on the map if your city lacks a wow factor and high profile (no pun intended). It isn't a bad thing for tourism. Not to mention that this is a nice supplement for and an addition to the MBR (Malaysia Book of Records), which is designed to give Malaysia a sense of national pride and nicely complements Dr. Mahathir's "Malaysia Boleh!" campaign. All are intended to make Malaysian standing tall (no pun intended in the term "intended", but fully on the term "standing tall"). I think this points to the heart of the tall and supertall skyscrapers that are erected in KL.

Architectural city Model of KL, KL City Gallery, KL, Malaysia
the most 3 well-known landmarks rising above the city skyline: KL118, KL Tower and Petronas Twin Towers

If all this talk of KL118 has got you excited, and you can't wait to see it. Sorry to disappoint you, its planned completion date is 2019 (it might be later). Well, that doesn't stop the Malaysia tourism authority to promote it, which might give me an excuse to revisit KL as it's less than an hour flight (if i still live in Singapore then. Well, i haven't seen all of Malaysia yet).

Ah yes, Samsung C&T, who built Petronas Twin Towers, also won the tender to build KL118.



Workshop, KL City Gallery, KL, Malaysia
Workshop where some of the souvenirs in the souvenir shop were made. The crafts don't limit to Malaysian architecture.
Just behind the glass wall, you can also see the Big Ben and Empire State Building.

Wood crafts souvenir, KL City Gallery, KL, Malaysia
Some of the souvenir handiworks made in the workshop

You don't need the tour guide (you might not arrive at the tour time) to look at the exhibits yourself. They're well documented with explanations.

It's free, and there's an expected souvenir shop at the end for those who like such things.


Models, souvenir shop, KL City Gallery, KL, Malaysia
The various tall landmarks in KL displayed in the souvenir shop, including the yet to be completed KL118 that towering over the rest. This row of building models reflects KL's preoccupation with the skyscrapers.



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