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The awe of the colonial brick structure contrasted with modern interventions
Sentul Art Centre, a destination for the appreciation of contemporary art.
The placement of artworks in a lush natural context.
Double height spaces create 3-dimensional views onto the existing structure.
Year: Coming Soon
Type: Commercial
Location: Sentul, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Formerly a British railway headquarters, Sentul Park is gradually being transformed into an extensive arts complex. Occupying a grand colonial structure that once housed the railway offices, the Sentul Arts Centre will soon contribute to this great heritage by providing a destination for the appreciation of contemporary art.  The park setting offers the chance to create a new museum that is uniquely porous to its surroundings, and brings the idea of nature into the very heart of the museum.  The placement of artworks in a lush natural context is the fundamental driver of the design.  Unlike urban museums, whose locations necessitate layers of security, the Sentul Arts Centre will allow for a gradated discovery of the building in its context, inverting the relationship between interior and exterior.  Despite Malaysia’s hot and humid climate, the atmosphere within the building will be pleasant; the sun tempered through extensive shading, covered walkways, and cooled spaces. 

The design for Sentul Arts Centre creates a voyage through the heritage building that ends with the clean interventions of the galleries. Linear circulation through all three floors reveals the existing layers as a single sequence, curating the history of the building itself.  The existing brick walls are contrasted with modern interventions, allowing a full appreciation of the building’s many layers of history.  Within the gallery space, large openings provide natural light to highlight specific works of art, dissolving the banality of the white box gallery. Carefully positioned windows and expansive terraces provide many levels of engagement with the outside, framing views of trees and the surrounding landscape.  In addition, double height spaces are carved throughout the building, creating three-dimensional views onto the existing structure.    

Moments along the voyage that visitors can touch are paid the most attention and finesse.  Guardrails, windows, paving, and lighting are all given a special richness of detail that contrasts with the more abstract textures of the gallery volumes.  The experience of moving through the building, from inside to out and back again, is accentuated with the use of natural materials that emphasize the tropical setting of the building.  The canopy of the trees finds its equivalent in the fine metal detailing of the bridges, tempering the strong tropical sun.  

Three pavilions, used for both dining and art extend the activities into the landscape, and strengthen the originating idea of the museum building as a pavilion in the park. Their lightweight canopy structure gently floats above a continuous landscape, providing the sensation of dining within the landscape itself.  The landscape design gently occupies the ground, allowing large areas of vegetation and existing trees to take center stage.  Paths throughout the site, combined with water features and paved areas, create a sense of serenity that can be enjoyed throughout the day.  Heritage, landscape, and leisure intersect at the Sentul Arts Centre, offering a unique and rich experience for the appreciation of art. 

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