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INTRODUCTION OF HISTORIC BUILDINGS IN MALAYSIA Since the building boom of the 1970s. They form an impressive historic features and heritage of the past work of man.edu. this approach will dispute where such action may affect the appearance of historic buildings. A general knowledge associated with understanding the common building defects that normally occur in Malaysia historic buildings is important as to protect and enhancing historic buildings from being lost forever.my and saipolbari@um. However some of these buildings are at risk from defects and are not being well cared for due to lack of technical knowledge and high cost of repair and maintenance. Dr. Prof. Building Conservation. Repair and Maintenance. neglect and high cost of maintenance. As we all known that conservation is 2 . A Ghafar Ahmad2. methods or techniques in repair and maintenance because it is an expensive item to historic buildings. Kuala Lumpur. A general guide about building defects. contractors. Assoc. 1.my ABSTRACT: Malaysia has a rich legacy of historic buildings with outstanding craftsmanship and architecture quality. and conservators and by all those who concerned with the care and conservation of historic buildings. builders. UNIVERSITY SCIENCE MALAYSIA UNDERSTANDING THE COMMON BUILDING DEFECTS IN MALAYSIA’S HISTORIC BUILDINGS Kamarul Syahril Kamal1. Lilawati Ab Wahab3 and Saipol Bari Abd Karim4 1.edu. Pulau Pinang. engineers. Building Defects. while other historic buildings are simply deteriorating due to age.co. however is effectively to obliterate historical memories.my. Keywords: Historic Buildings. 2. Recent large scale urban development continues to threaten pre-war buildings. and there is now increasing pressure from various segments of the community to conserve the nation’s historical heritage. The correct diagnosis of building defects associated with the correct remedial action is the only economic basis for successful repair and maintenance programme. It is expected that this paper could contribute some benefits to architects. It is important to conserve and preserve historic buildings because they provide a sense of identity and continuity in a fast changing world for future generations. Malaysia 4 Universiti Malaya. Malaysia kamarul_uitm@yahoo. Fee (1998) expressed that to lose these buildings.PROCEEDINGS AND CD OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON BUILT ENVIRONMENT IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES. However. repair and maintenance is important especially when dealing with historic buildings because prevention is better than cure. Basically something has to be done to reduce the frequency of defects by choosing appropriate approaches.uk. It is because defects are concerned by society at large due to their possible dangers such as structural collapse and loss of use. aghafar@usm. 3 Universiti Sains Malaysia. email@example.com. surveyors. The use of modern building construction techniques and developments in material technology may be viewed as improvements to a building. 3rd-4th DECEMBER 2007. many of Malaysia’s historic buildings have been demolished.
hotels. In Malaysia. clock towers. 2. the practice of building conservation is considered new. In majority of historic buildings in Malaysia. brick and plaster. railway stations. There are 15 types of common building defects that normally occur and their causes according to (Ahmad. residential.PROCEEDINGS AND CD OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON BUILT ENVIRONMENT IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES. 3 . COMMON BUILDING DEFECTS Some historic buildings in Malaysia are at risk from defects because these buildings are not being well cared for. institutional and commercials. forts and monuments. Most of the historic buildings in Malaysia use building materials which are easily available locally such as timber. 2001) are as follows (refer Table 1). Insall. 2002). 1996. 1994:2. stone. government offices. plaster and timber. the existing structures are normally made from stone. Basically. palaces. Under the Antiquities Act 1976 a historic building or monument aged at least 100 years old can be listed or gazetted by the Government through the Museum Department to give protection and encouragement for preservation and conservation (Kamal. brickwork. embracing all acts that prolong the life of cultural and natural heritage. 1972) relates specifically to the process of repair. churches. Example of historic buildings in Malaysia according to Ahmad (1997) are mosque. it is very important to recognize and diagnose the defects at each building element in historic buildings because there are so many defects that occur at various locations with different types of causes and symptoms. Building conservation according to (Fielden. Laws for historic building conservation are established throughout legislation whereby a national inventory of historic buildings includes lists and schedules of old buildings for protection. due to lack of knowledge and high cost of repair and maintenance. maintenance and restoration of historic buildings which aim to prolong a building’s life and function. 3rd-4th DECEMBER 2007. prisons. UNIVERSITY SCIENCE MALAYSIA the action taken to prevent decay. schools. Kamal.
or walk upon. Bar and Restaurant may be caused by plaster has failed to adhere to a brickwork. Timber deterioration at Ipoh Education Department may be caused by insect or termite attacks. foundation movement and failure. and presence of salt crystallization. Discoloured and Blistering Finishes at Ipoh Dato’ Panglima Kinta Mosque may be caused by the presence of moisture where the colour may changes caused by chemical reaction. 3rd-4th DECEMBER 2007. movement of walls. 7.S. 2. 6. UNIVERSITY SCIENCE MALAYSIA Table 1: Some examples of common building defects and their causes. Slipping and Broken Roof Tiles at Ipoh Railway Station may be caused by the fixing or mortar no longer holds. 1. 4.M. and vibration or ageing. 4 . 5. Full Thickness of Plaster Loose at Ipoh F. 9. Blistering of Paintwork to Rendering at Ipoh Darul Ridzuan Museum may be caused by chemical attack on the paint film.PROCEEDINGS AND CD OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON BUILT ENVIRONMENT IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES. and spread of roof structure. Crumbling of Brickwork Mortar Joints at Malacca Shop houses may be caused by incorrect mortar fixture. expansion of brickwork. wind and sun received can easily turn the surfaces of the paint to be chalky or blistered. dampness. Cracked Brickwork at Ipoh Old Post Office may be caused by subsoil movement. 8. Deteriorating Roof Tiles (Algae. and mould growths. Lichen and Mosses) at UPSI Tanjung Malim may be caused by harmful growths thrive in damp conditions with chemicals found in roof coverings. Timber Decay at Taiping Railway Station may be caused by wood destroying fungus either dry rot or wet rot. 3. excessive rain. chemical action or combination of both.
Dampness Penetration at Larut. Harmful Growths at Ipoh Bulan Bintang Building may be caused by cracks in the walls or roofs creating a suitable ground for any seed to grow.PROCEEDINGS AND CD OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON BUILT ENVIRONMENT IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES. a pilot survey has been conducted to over 200 historical buildings in Malaysia. 14. and lack of adhesion due to moisture content. and poor preparation of previous surface. by passing of the damp proof course. 12. Taiping may be caused by leaking pipes embedded in the walls or floors. and failure of damp proof course. Mould Growth at Taiping Railway Station Ticket Office may be caused by damp surfaces. Matang and Selama District and Land Office may be caused by lack of damp proof course. 11. Four major town has been selected as the case study which are Kuala Lumpur. 3rd-4th DECEMBER 2007. Peeling and Flaking Paintwork at Georgetown High Court may be caused by lack of maintenance. Malacca and the categories of building surveyed are as follow: 5 . 13. Ipoh. Source: Researchers pilot survey (2007). Georgetown and Banda Hilir. Patchy White Deposits at Batu Gajah Government Court Complex may be caused by chemicals in the bricks are dissolve by water and come to the surface they form as crystals when the surface dries. 15. Patchy Damp at Perak Museum. In order to proof that building defects do occur at Malaysia historical buildings. UNIVERSITY SCIENCE MALAYSIA 10.
1. 1% Museum. 1. 5. 0% Fort. 18. 18% Palace Cinema Religious Residential Museum Etcetra Figure 1: Category of historical buildings surveyed. 2% School. 1. 16. 3. 1% Club House. 0. 45% Institution. 2% Railw ay Station. 11. 92. 2. 5. 8% Hotel.PROCEEDINGS AND CD OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON BUILT ENVIRONMENT IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES. 0% Government. 8% Business. the findings of the pilot survey are as follow: 6 . 36. UNIVERSITY SCIENCE MALAYSIA Shophouse. 1% Etcetra. Meanwhile. 0% Religious. 9% Palace. 3rd-4th DECEMBER 2007. 0% Club House Shophouse School Hotel Institution Railw ay Station Government Business Fort Cinema. 5% Residential. 16. 2.
7% Other Element. 97. 142. leaking of pipes and malfunctioning equipment).PROCEEDINGS AND CD OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON BUILT ENVIRONMENT IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES. flaking of paintwork. 12% Door. followed by roof (13%) (eg. distortion of shape. defective of floorboards and decay of timber frame). crumbling of mortar. cracking of screeds. loose of plaster. cracking of brick. 15% Building Services. door (13%) (eg. and lichen of surface). missing tiles. floor (12%) (eg. 2% External Wall Floor Building Services Internal Wall Staircase Other Element Door Ceiling Window Roof Figure 2: Types of building elements where defects normally occur. 139. 12% Staircase. broken tiles. building services (7%) (eg. loose of plaster. it clearly shown that the most common building defects normally occur at historical buildings are at external wall (15%) (eg. insect attack. 68. flaking of paintwork and salt attack). damp of surface. delamination of panel and flaking of paintwork). rising damp. 6% Ceiling. 13% Internal Wall. UNIVERSITY SCIENCE MALAYSIA Window . deterioration of surface and harmful growths). staircase 7 . loose of tiles. 78. rusting of steel and cracked of glass). 174. rising damp. 3rd-4th DECEMBER 2007. decay of timber frame. sagging of timber frame. 19. cracking of brick. Referring to the above data. discolour of paintwork and cracking of tiles). insect attack. decay of timber frame. 157. watermark. 12% External Wall. 13% Floor. Meanwhile the least elements where building defects normally occur at historical buildings were at ceiling (8%) (eg. 154. 8% Roof . and window (12%) (eg. internal wall (12%) (eg. 146.
structures and monuments. in order to chase this problem. defective structure and drains). or low quality workmanship. in the construction itself. solar radiation and atmospheric pollution. Ahmad (2004) expressed that understanding the nature of the building materials and accurate diagnosis of defects is most important. defects occur either because of poor design. Therefore. Malaysia has heavily rainfall and warm sunshine al. conservators. Location of Building Historic buildings that are located near the sea or rivers tend to have common building defects. 1994). particularly in respect to external building materials which are exposed to external causes such as rain. Climatic Conditions Like many other tropical countries. solutable salt 8 . In the care and conservation of historic buildings in Malaysia. but also to recognise and describe those problems which need expert help and act accordingly (Oram. This is because historic buildings are like older people. vulnerable to all sorts of diseases. architects. year round.PROCEEDINGS AND CD OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON BUILT ENVIRONMENT IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES. contractors and those involve in building conservation should first become familiar with the building materials in common use before going deeper into the proper techniques to repair and maintenance in historic buildings. shape or weight of materials. a. b. in the size. 3rd-4th DECEMBER 2007. wind. decay of timber frame and flaking of paintwork) and other element (2%) (eg. In addition. 3. It is important to be able not only to diagnose simple defects and instruct repairs. builders. or simply in appearances. These primary causes may operate singly or in combination and result in defects indicated by changes in composition of materials. Referring to Ahmad (1994:1) there are five main factors that govern building defects or problem to historic buildings which are. building surveyors. COMMON CAUSES OF BUILDING DEFECTS According to the National Building Agency (1985). This is because the water coming from the ground causes dampness penetration and structural instability. or because the building was not constructed according to the design. engineers. UNIVERSITY SCIENCE MALAYSIA (6%) (eg. This implies that buildings in the country tend to weather rapidly. or because it has been subject to factors not allowed for in the design.
Any building which is in poor repair or impractical to use. c. like architectural history. FRAMEWORK FOR REPAIRING HISTORIC BUILDINGS Repair is the very heart of the approach to building conservation. Aging building materials.PROCEEDINGS AND CD OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON BUILT ENVIRONMENT IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES. 1992). 1996. beams and columns but also other common building parts. 3rd-4th DECEMBER 2007. it is important to regularly inspect not only the main structural elements like roof structure. one of the principal mean to guarantee conservation is to undertake regular repair and maintenance. The proper treatment of building repair and maintenance should be given full considerations. it may entail 9 . UNIVERSITY SCIENCE MALAYSIA which comes from the sea and together with the presence of a polluted atmosphere can cause damage to the exterior surface of the buildings. d. particularly timber should be checked frequently. a subject which. Building Age Basically all elements of historical buildings tend to deteriorate at a lesser or greater rate depending upon their location and function. and to survive. is likely to be more or less at risk. building should be not only structurally and constructional sound. This is because historic buildings were built to only hold certain loads and sometimes may not withstand additional loads on the existing structure. Maintenance Approach to the Building Building maintenance organized through a rigorous of cyclical maintenance plays a major role in preventing building defects. has grown in Malaysia into a fully developed discipline. building must be useful and must be wanted. Cook & Hinks. In order to survive. According to (Marks. e. Such treatment is necessary in reference to all properties. 4. The loss of any building is inherently wasteful. but also practical and efficient to use and pleasurable to look at and to be in. Historic buildings that neglect building maintenance may fall into several defects which may lead to structural failures. unpleasant to be in. To secure the general structural stability. To be wanted. Building Type and Change of Use Most historic buildings that maintain their original functions or uses appear to have fewer problems compared to buildings that change their use and function.
their materials and The need for any restoration to be cautions and honest. The need to regard buildings and materials as finite resources. CONCLUSION 10 . wherever possible The need for a holistic approach to buildings. 5. which respects the whole history and authenticity of a building. 9. UNIVERSITY SCIENCE MALAYSIA cultural loss and historical loss. Repairs to the fabric of a building to remedy defects or significant decay should. its contents and setting. and. and reversibility. The summary listed here is attempted to express the needs of repair of a historic building (Weaver. Repair is an ongoing process and no repair is ultimate or final. based on minimum intervention clear principles. The need for existing and new work to make an honest and well The need for a building. 1993). 11. 3. 1. conversion to another use. about repair and maintenance. therefore. of appropriate experience and skills. 8. or improved internal or external appearance (Richardson. 5. integrated whole. 7. 3rd-4th DECEMBER 2007. 12. The need for conservative approach. 2. The need for repairs to be carefully considered. as far as possible. 6. in practice. experience and judgment. based on The need for work to be prepared directed and carried out by people The need for work to be preceded by research and investigation and The need to balance conflicting objectives. to be considered planned. be carried out as nearly as possible at the time and to the extent that they are necessary. to be properly monitored and recorded. repair works are quite likely to be coupled with alterations. Building conservation is not only.PROCEEDINGS AND CD OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON BUILT ENVIRONMENT IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES. 10. 1995). systems of construction. The need for a systematic approach to preventive conservation. The need for understanding. and regarded as part of an ongoing process. together. the objective of which may include improved usability in an existing use. 4.
the more can be fed back through the repair works by the professionals responsible for the conservation works. Fee. UNIVERSITY SCIENCE MALAYSIA Understanding the common building defects is simply a logical way of proceeding from the evidence to the cause of a defect.hbp. G. Kuala Lumpur: Museums Association of Malaysia. Appraising Building Defects. Oxford: Butterworth Architecture. A. The Encyclopedia of Malaysia: Architecture. B. British Colonial Architecture in Malaysia 1800-1930. G. while the creation and conservation of good buildings is always worthwhile where repair and maintenance may seem a modest unglamorous activity that can be continuity of past. Good repair practice is central to good conservation in Malaysia. A.my/conservation/ Ahmad.PROCEEDINGS AND CD OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON BUILT ENVIRONMENT IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES.hbp. C. Conservation of Historic Buildings.usm. (1997). Available from World Wide Web: http://www. Fielden. indeed be glorious. (1992). G. J. M. scan be sheer pleasure. Available from World Wide Web: http://www. Destruction is invariably wasteful and may be positively damaging. [Accessed 9th September 2007]. however is that other sorts of intervention may be necessary to accommodate change. Available from World Wide Web: http://www. Conservation. after which remedies can be prescribed.my/conservation/ Cook. V.hbp. Singapore Archipelago Press. Ahmad. G. G. present and future. (1994:1). A. (1994:2). A. 11 . (1988).usm. [Accessed 9th September 2007]. Building Maintenance [Online]. therefore. (1996).usm. working closely with historic buildings. and making them good in the Malaysian way. 3rd-4th DECEMBER 2007. 6. The more that can be found about why defects have occurred. [Accessed 9th September 2007]. Repair would be the only action required to enable historic buildings to survive. REFERENCES Ahmad. & Hinks. must sometimes be inflicted on buildings if they are to continue to be useful and wanted. may entail more than repair. The present reality.my/conservation/ Ahmad. London: Longman Scientific and Technical. Understanding Common Building Defects: The Dilapidation Survey Report [Online]. Why Building Decay [Online]. Alteration of one sort or another. in addition to straightforward repair. (2004).
(1996).com/ Marks. B. 3rd-4th DECEMBER 2007. The National Building Agency (NBA). London: The Architectural Press. Building Defects: Diagnosis and Remedy. K. Weaver. Defects in Historic Buildings [Online].blogspot. The Repair and Maintenance of Historic Buildings: A Brief Guide for Owners. Available from World Wide Web:http://buildingconservation. Remedial Treatment of Buildings. Kamal. (1995). (2002). London: Construction Press. (1972). Concerning Building. S. Oxford: Reed Educational & Professional Publishing Ltd. [Accessed 6th September 2007]. (1985). W. London: Construction Press Ltd. Architects and Agents. (1993). The Care of Old Buildings Today. Building Research Methodology in the Conservation of the Architectural Heritage [Online]. (1994). Oram.S. New York: John Wiley & Sons Inc. (2001).PROCEEDINGS AND CD OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON BUILT ENVIRONMENT IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES. E. A. Available from World Wide Web:http://buildingconservation. Richardson. Ireland: The Northern Ireland Historic Building Council. K.S. P. [Accessed 6th September 2007]. Conserving Buildings: Guide to Techniques and Materials.blogspot. UNIVERSITY SCIENCE MALAYSIA Insall. D. M.com/ Kamal. 12 .
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