My wife would attest to the fact that I am a tad bit obsessed about the urban redevelopment project currently happening in downtown Kuala Lumpur, specifically at the Pasar Seni, Masjid Jamek and Dataran Merdeka triangle. Over the past few years, the Government has invested money in increasing walkability and beautifying the area by restoring heritage buildings such as the Sultan Abdul Samad Building. The Medan Pasar area has also been transformed to be pedestrian only.
This redevelopment project is only one part of a much larger project called River of Life (RoL), which aims to revitalise areas surrounding the Gombak and Klang rivers. You can read more about it here. In addition to beautifying downtown heritage areas, RoL also aims to clean up the rivers so that they’d eventually be clean and safe for human contact. This would hopefully spur increased commercial activity along the rivers, in turn increasing our overall quality of life. Imagine a vibrant waterfront scene right in the middle of Kuala Lumpur!
(An artist’s impression of the proposed project. Image sourced from PEMANDU)
The Masjid Jamek area in particular has been a centre of attention for this project, of course given the fact that the confluence of the two rivers is basically KL’s namesake. You’re probably old enough to remember that Wisma Kraftangan once obscured the view of the mosque on Jalan Tun Perak. Now, that behemoth is no longer; it was demolished to make way for beautification works around the area. Thank God!
My wife works in the Masjid Jamek area, so in the evenings that I’d pick her up on our way home, I’d normally take the opportunity to pray at the mosque and then lawat kawasan (like a YB, my wife would add.) Construction work around the area really kicked into high gear starting from the middle of last year. For months, the area surrounding the mosque was basically turned into one giant construction site, beginning with the demolishing of Wisma Kraftangan, then extending to the excavation works at the meeting point of the two rivers (where workers unearthed some pretty cool stuff.)
Here are some pictures from my most recent visit:
The courtyard between the toilets and the wudhu’ area and the main mosque has also been paved with red bricks and white marble highlights, echoing the mosque’s overall design. It’s much cleaner now. Hopefully they’ll remember to place some large trash cans to prevent littering.
Said fountain and garden. Just beyond the fountain, a pedestrian bridge (?) is being constructed to connect the mosque directly to the Dataran Merdeka area. Not sure what exactly is the function of the concrete wall there.
There’s also construction work going on on the other side of the river. I understand that they are also constructing a garden there. You can see the newly constructed footpath hanging over the bank of the river.
The confluence of the two rivers. I’m a bit disappointed with the bare-concrete look here, but hopefully it’s still a work in progress and I’ll be proven wrong once everything is done. The glass panels also look a bit out of place, aesthetics-wise.
The site of the former Wisma Kraftangan, also replaced by a plaza covered with umbrellas. This should increase the capacity of the mosque. The date palms add to the aesthetics, but not sure whether they’d do much in terms of shade.
Another view of the redesigned plaza.
Overall, this redevelopment is something to look forward to. It’s sure to re-position Masjid Jamek as one of the must-visit tourist sites in the city, especially those keen to learn more about Islam. As with many developments in the country, the key is whether the upkeep and maintenance befit the history of the building and its surrounding areas.