Teh Xian Zhi
KABA community centre is a project aiming to upend the typical associations of vernacular architecture. Situated at Kampung Banda Kaba, Melaka, the project requires the ability of the designer to understand issues of heritage and social in a historical urban context. In order to generate a dialogue between the local community and foreign visitors, the design scheme integrates amenities within the compact space to influence a more comfortable neighbourhood.
The design shows a balance juxtaposition between the traditional and the modern by reinterpreting the culturally important elements into modern architectural features. For instance, the symbolic alleyway is transformed as a form of urban connectors in the building. Besides, vegetation is used as a visual element that signifies the gathering points along the North-South axis that runs across the building. The urban connectivity is further elevated to the first floor by an outdoor ramp walkway supported by a series of pilotis that resembles the ‘kaki lima’ or ‘five-foot way’ of Melaka shophouses. On the other hand, the roofscape is formulated by the leaves of coconut trees of Banda Kaba, preserving traces of cultural and historic details, while emphasizing a contemporary outlook to showcase the advance of today’s construction technology.
Spatial-wise, the building offers a flexible space that is traditional associated with public life, community space and civic gathering. Furthermore, the courtyard serves as the core of living fun, keeping the building ‘alive’ as the outlook grows and ages with the vegetation. It hence creates a setting that epitomizes domesticity and celebrates the possibility of smallness in a serene neighbourhood. It also demonstrates a sustainable strategy to inject new energy to the old urban fabric in the Melaka town. From a simple alleyways concept, it has been transformed into a complex programmed public building that will eventually shape a new urban community.