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Transitional & Contemplative Architecture: Living Community Museum in Chinatown KL

by Loke Hau Yee | Universiti Putra Malaysia


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As a living museum, Petrichor provides a relaxing and flexible community space for the people in Chinatown Kuala Lumpur. The site is full of stories. Along with a detailed study of the transitional architecture and contemplative practice, the circulation surrounding or within the museum creates a participatory experience for visitors when they recall their memories of human events, simultaneously encouraging community engagement.

Part of the living museum is proposed with active events, such as weekly marketing, community hall, stalls and café. These are the spaces where people re-experience their affairs in the downtown area. Maybe a bowl of noodles, the smell of a bouquet, or even the laughter of the children chasing around, bring back their minds to the good old time.

On another side of the living museum, a tower design focuses more on silence, calmness, natural lighting and greenery engagement that piques the sensitivity of human senses with the space quality. The structure walls of a museum without any exhibition objects eventually frame particular views of the downtown city. The pictures are divergent and ‘alive,’ along with the flow of time.


Transitional architecture in an inclusive environment

In 1994, Kisho Kurokawa, one of the leading members of the Metabolist movement in the 1960s and 70s, emphasized the need to provide intermediating elements and spaces in our spaces. He argued that transitional spaces also serve as intermediating elements and do not always perform in a physical form. These spaces are like relationship and communication that connects people; they do not necessarily have walls to define them.

Some researchers narrowed their studies to specific characteristics of transitional architecture that a physical connection can explain, such as atriums, plazas, urban corridors, gathering spaces, courtyards and similar. For the non-physical explanation,  transitional architecture can be defined by its function of providing for an individual instead of a sudden change from personal to public space and from open to close. A range of intermediary spaces falls in between the two extremes. Transitional architecture is ready for us to face uncertain changes when we step into a new neighbouring or setting. It is named transitional since cognizance is the in-between area between a particular mind and the experiential field of an individual.


Transitional architecture responds to human psychology 

As stated by Stefan Behling, human transits often in our daily lives, but we seldom notice the kind of spaces that are there. The end users experience the spaces from the macro to the micro level while unaware of their presence. Also, many users do not realise the need for transitional architecture to respond to humanity. He explained the situation by highlighting the innovation of a spacecraft’s window design. In the beginning, the designer did not have a deep understanding of the prominence to oblige users with a rich experience. The position changed when they were instigated to comprehend the relationship between spaces and human sensibility. 

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