Around the Merdeka period, Tunku Abdul Rahman had a vision to create a national identity for Malaya. Since we were a newly independent country, he believed that architecture was an effective and symbolic way of nation building.

Although different architects were called upon to design different buildings, each bearing different functions, Tunku emphasised on one same criteria for all, they all had to be Malaysian in design.

Ang Chee Cheong, author of the book, “The Merdeka Interviews,” has spent many years investigating and interviewing all the people involved in the designing and construction of the aforementioned architectures.

He is an expert in explaining the design process for each building and how the different architects tackle the brief that Tunku had given to them.

For example, the umbrella roof of the Masjid Negara was the first of its kind and was inspired by the umbrellas used by the Sultans.

The decision to use the umbrella roof design instead of the conventional dome design was because the dome design was believed to be more Arabic.

The refusal to use the Minangkabau roof for the Muzium Negara was because Minangkabau design is uniquely Sumatran. These are just some examples of design decisions made by the architects.

Mr Ang will also share with us on how it was the collaborative efforts of the group of architects, engineers, contractors and labourers that made Tunku’s vision a reality. Watch his story here: