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Blue-Gray Engawa. Le Méridien and The Hilton at Sentral, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The infrastructural development of Peninsular Malaysia around Kuala Lumpur during the last fifteen years or so is astounding. Of course, many travellers are aware of the utra-modern international airport KLIA. Another mega-project is that of the new 'capital' city of Putrajaya. In both cases, new forms of architecture are combined with nature and gardens. KLIA has much greenery in and around its buildings; Putrajaya is styled as 'The-City-in-a-Park', and this is clear from the many gardens in and surrounding this new metropolis. Central Kuala Lumpur - KLCC and its Petronas Towers and the immediate environs - also has large parks and even the 'rainforest' of Bukit Nanas, which make indoor and outdoor space almost continuous.
The enormous project of 'Sentral', the central transportation hub of Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia, derives from a similar idea. It was designed by Kisho Kurokawa (1934-2007), the famous Japanese architect, and also the founder of the Green (environmentalist) Party of Japan. Kurokawa's philosophy of architecture is at the basis of KLIA, too.
Kurokawa's insights are largely derived from the notion of 'Engawa', 'in-between-space', in which the public realm and private space co-exist. According to Kurokawa's futurist-holistic vision, traditional Western architecture considers space as 'discrete'; in other words, space is governed by walls and constructions. Traditional Japanese architecture, on the other hand, sees space as continous. He remarks that the first thing his traditional Japanese family did when they got up in the morning was to slide open their 'walls' to the outside environment no matter how cold it might be. Kurokawa's designs are meant to be 'holistic', encompassing the realm of 'nature' and at once also that of public and private humanity.
Part of the Stesen Sentral project is the twin-hotel Le Meridien-Hilton. It was designed primarily by another 'new wave' Japanese architect, Yozo Shibata (1927-2003). This huge complex can be seen from afar, but it is most impressive from across the Lake of the Taman Tasik Perdana. Its blue-grey color blends in harmoniously during the day with the skies, whether blue or hazy. At night the hotels are bathed in a bluish light which distinguishes them from the dark sky but not obtrusively. Staying in the Hilton, one will immediately see that the private rooms and public spaces are indeed governed by that idea of 'Engawa'. There is much continuous space, emphasised by glass and grey metals, sliding doors and general 'openness'. In fact, the openness is such that you almost have the sensation of walking out of your window into thin air, even on the highest floors...
The hotels are so 'tall' that it is hard to photograph them entirely from the pool area. I've cropped the left and right of this photo to at least give something of an illusion of how high these things are, even from the eighth story, where the swimming pool is. Le Meridien is on the left, the Hilton on the right.
Best Western Blue Tower Hotel - lobby
Het gebruik en verdere verspreiding van dit bestand is toegestaan, zolang de bron in de begeleidende tekst wordt vermeld. / This image can only be redistributed when mentioning the source.
Bron: Best Western Hotels Nederland
Source: Best Western Hotels The Netherlands
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