‘sentul works’, a restoration of a neglected colonial building 

O2 design atelier in collaboration with YTL land design group spearheaded the restoration of a century-old colonial building, where once was the headquarters of the federated malay state railway (FMSR). located in kuala lumpur, malaysia, this structure clad with brick-and-concrete arched-colonnades façade was standing as a hollow shell amidst the old trees of sentul park, until the architects undertook to transform it into a modern office building.

they added a steel court mass, recessed inwards from the main colonial block to preserve the scale and presence of the old. balconies and pop-out windows create surprises and contribute to the overall abstraction of the upper mass in contrast to the formal language of the colonial architecture below.

corten steel mass rises up from a restored colonial building in kuala lumpur
ariel view

all images courtesy of O2 design atelier

preserving the heritage of the building 

the brief to the architects was to ensure that the construction adaptations will not deviate materially from its original architecture. the ‘new’ must not overwhelm the ‘old’ but both elements should coexist to express a fresh aesthetic to the building’s age and heritage. the original layout of the ‘sentul works’ consists of two main spaces separated by a central double volume hallway. adapting to the original symmetry of the building interior, the new free plan office spaces flanked around the original hallway now serve as a double volume central atrium.

visual connection is established between tenants on the ground and first floor within the working environment maintaining privacy. the interior of the office is planned as a flexible free plan, giving occupants maximum adaptability according to their working needs. the new extended second and third floors form a new mass rising from the colonial form at the base. steel posts and beam structures supporting the new floor slabs lightly raised from the ground, well-integrated, and yet structurally independent from the colonial structure.

corten steel mass rises up from a restored colonial building in kuala lumpur
rear façade

coexistence of new and old 

corten steel used as an external building surface for the projected new mass above the existing building structure blends harmoniously with the exposed steel frame skeleton of the adjacent old railway workshops. the corten cladding gives a modern cutting edge modern outlook and yet embodies a rich warm texture that resonates with the surrounding old rustic material palettes.

a central glass curtain wall breaks the homogeneity of the corten-clad new mass. the façade break enhances the quality of modern abstraction and conformity to the domineering and symmetrical colonial architecture below. office tenants are visually linked to the surrounding context by the window openings on the new corten-clad building skin. tranquil greenery is brought into the office interior through thoughtfully carved-out window openings.

corten steel mass rises up from a restored colonial building in kuala lumpur

front façade

the overall gridline is generated by superimposing three grids include the original façade brick arched colonnades grid, an enlarged colonial brick laying pattern grid, and a new internal steel column grid. a number of balconies and bay windows are strategically added to some of the openings between the grid projecting towards the historical railway workshops to the north, the lush park setting to the west, the YTL land sales gallery to the south-west and the soaring towers of the fennel by YTL land towards the east.

corten steel mass rises up from a restored colonial building in kuala lumpur
northeast façade

corten steel mass rises up from a restored colonial building in kuala lumpur
old and new

corten steel mass rises up from a restored colonial building in kuala lumpur
ground floor office

corten steel mass rises up from a restored colonial building in kuala lumpur
link bridge

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first-floor office

first-floor office

second floor office

second floor office

main staircase

main staircase

washroom

washroom

roof deck view

roof deck view

project info:

name: sentul works

designer: O2 design atelier in collaboration with YTL Land

location: kuala lumpur, malaysia 

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edited by: christina petridou | designboom