THE MANY ARCHITECTURAL STYLES OF MALAYSIA

Apart from eating lots of delicious food, my other favorite part about visiting Malaysia was gawking at its wonderful architecture. Malaysia is made up of so many different cultures, and has also been colonized at various points by the British, Dutch and Portuguese, so you can imagine the architecture is kind of all over the place– but I liked that.

In all my travels, I don’t think I’ve been to a country that has more architectural styles than Malaysia. Here is just a sampling of what I encountered:

MUGHAL

Buildings with Mughal architecture began popping up at the turn of the 20th century in Kuala Lumpur. Majority of the buildings in this style of architecture can be found near Merdeka Square and Chinatown.

Malaysia - Jan 2014

Malayan Railway Administration Building, Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia - Jan 2014

Sultan Abdul Samad Building, Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia - Jan 2014

Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia - Jan 2014

National History Museum, Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia - Jan 2014

National Textiles Museum, Kuala Lumpur

TUDOR

Many parts of Malaysia were under British rule from the 1800s up until the 1950s. Many of the older buildings were built under British architectural influence. Tudor style buildings were especially popular because the structure could be modified to acclimatize with Malaysia’s hot and rainy environment.

Malaysia - Jan 2014

The Royal Selangor Club, Kuala Lumpur

VICTORIAN

Another popular British architectural style you’ll still find is Victorian. A majority of schools, theaters and historical buildings around KL were built in this style. One of the most well preserved examples is the Central Market.
Malaysia - Jan 2014

Central Market, Kuala Lumpur

GOTHIC

While there aren’t terribly many gothic structures in Malaysia, a few of the most well known cathedrals built in the 1800s were made in this style.

Malaysia - Jan 2014

Church of St. Francis Xavier, Melaka

DUTCH

From mid-1600s to mid-1800s the Dutch colonized the southern port city of Melaka. This would actually be the longest that Melaka was colonized by foreign rule. Even today many of the buildings look like they could be straight out of Amsterdam.

Malaysia - Jan 2014

Christ Church, Melaka

Malaysia - Jan 2014

Colonial Shophouses

PORTUGUESE

Prior to the Dutch colonization, Melaka was actually a Portuguese colony. At that time Melaka was primarily built as a fortress, although today there are only a few remnants known as the A Famosa.

Malaysia - Jan 2014

Middleburg Bastion, Melaka

GRECIAN-SPANISH

Many buildings in Kuala Lumpur, especially in the Old Center, draw inspiration from Straits Eclectic and European architecture. Many of them even  employ white and red brick patterns with an emphasis on old Grecian-Spanish architecture.

Malaysia - Jan 2014

Old Market Square, Kuala Lumpur

STRAITS ECLECTIC (MALAY)

Also known as “Peranakan” or “Baba-Nyonya” architecture, this uniquely Malaysian style can be exhibited in the traditional shophouses Melaka. Inspired by British, French and Chinese architecture, this style was one of my favorites.

Malaysia - Jan 2014

Color Beads Shop, Melaka

Malaysia - Jan 2014

Restoran Famosa, Melaka

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Ng Choon Teck, Melaka

ISLAMIC

With Islam being the official religion of Malaysia, you’ll find Islamic architecture often in Kuala Lumpur. Apart from actual mosques, there are many subtle Islamic geometric patterns and motifs designed into many structure.

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National Mosque, Kuala Lumpur

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National Mosque, Kuala Lumpur

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Jamek Mosque, Kuala Lumpur

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Al Bukhary Mosque, Kuala Lumpur

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Kuala Lumpur Tower from a distance, Kuala Lumpur

CHINESE

After Malay, a majority of Malaysia’s ethnic group is made of up Chinese. You’ll find all sorts of intricate Chinese-style buildings across the country, as well as many Chinese temples.

href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/travelsintranslation/15873525289″>Malaysia - Jan 2014

Petaling Street, Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia - Jan 2014

Xiang Lin Si Temple, Melaka

Malaysia - Jan 2014

Local temple, Melaka

DRAVIDIAN

The third main ethnic group in Malaysia is Indian, so of course it’s fairly common to find Indian-influenced architecture, especially in certain areas of Kuala Lumpur like Little India or Brickfields.
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Sri Mahamariamman Temple, Kuala Lumpur

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Sri Kandaswamy Kovil, Kuala Lumpur

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Batu Caves, Gombak

LATE MODERNISM & POST-MODERN

You can’t talk about architecture without mentioning the Petronas Towers! Kuala Lumpur’s claim to fame, these twin towers were some of the first modern skyscrapers built in the city. Almost twenty years later and now KL’s skyline is brimming with modern and post-modern buildings.

Malaysia - Jan 2014

Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur

WHICH ARCHITECTURAL STYLE IS YOUR FAVORITE?

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