Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Conservation House at 8, Heeren Street, Melaka

I had mentioned in one of our earlier post that we locals only visit our tourist attractions when we need to play tour guide. However, sometimes, it is the tourists we introduce us to something we did not know exist in our own backyard. 8, Heeren Street is one of the examples.

Tim's parents visited Melaka last month and told Tim about this place. This is the only shop house in the core heritage site that was restored to and conserved as it was during the Dutch colonial era in the 1700s. This shop house was restored and conserve by the efforts of Badan Warisan Malaysia, with the blessings of the land title owner Cheng Hoon Teng Temple (itself being the oldest Chinese temple in South East Asia) and funding from the American Embassy.

Being a classic example of a shop house, the front portion of the property was used as a store front and the rear and 1st Floor used as living space for families. The photo below shows the hallway linking the front and the rear of the shop house.

Painstaking effort was used to ensure that original materials were used to restore the building. In the olden days, builders will use crush corals mixed with limestone powder as finishing to the walls. An interesting characteristic of such finishing is that it will trap moisture in our tropical climate. As time goes by the moisture will then "float" to the surface creating intricate patters as illustrated be the photo below. 

Typical of shop houses of the days, there is often a central air well at the courtyard in the middle of the house for ventilation.

As Melaka is situated near the coast and this particular house is very near the river, the family who stayed here would not have used the well water for consumption as the sodium content will be quite high. Water from the well would most probably for washing and cleaning.
Functioning well in the central courtyard

The photo below was taken from the only bed room of the house. It is normal during those days for a family to stay in one bedroom.

Cooking area/Kitchen is located at the rear of the house. In the original design, the kitchen is covered but over the ages, the roof had collapsed. The restorers decided to leave it as it is to improve ventilation.

Stove at the Kitchen

Remnants of the beam of the kitchen ceiling

Blinds at the Veranda

The restorers had also went to great lengths trying to recreate the roof as close to the original as possible. The tiles were arranged in a criss-cross pattern to avoid any leaks during rain.

One of the unique characteristics of the shop houses during the Dutch era is the shop front.

At the left you can see the door. The left portion is a window whereby it can be transformed into a platform whereby the owner can display his/her wares for sale.

This is a very noble and commendable effort by all parties involved and it deserve all the credit that it is due. For those who are interested to visit the shop house the address is:

No 8, Heeren Street Heritage Centre,
8, Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock,
75200 Melaka. 

The centre closes at 4pm.

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