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Sekeping Kong Heng

Over at Old Town amongst the Heritage Trail lies the Dramatist Hostel, more popularly known as Kong Heng coffee shop famous for its kai see hor fun and other local food fare. The property which is bordered by Leech Street (Jalan Bandar Timah), Jalan Panglima, the adjacent lane till Belfield Street (Jalan Sultan Yussuf) was purchased by its current owners in 2008.  This is a 3-storey building where actors stayed and rehearsed and performed at the Chinese Opera Theatre next door which has since been demolished but the hostel remains.

One of its owners is renowned landscape architect Ng Sek San, an Ipoh boy, who said that “Ipoh was a good place to grow up” and felt that “it should be preserved for the next generation”. However, for Ng “restoration is not just about restoring, that would become a museum. I want something that is living. Every building has a spirit. We should visualise and build around that spirit.

Late last year Kong Heng coffee shop was closed for five days for a clean-up and that was all the attention paid to it. Not so for the hostel that Ng has transformed into a guest house – ‘Sekeping Kong Heng’ (a slice of Kong Heng).

The wood walls of the partitioned rooms on the first floor have been replaced with concrete sheets and each room has been fitted with its own bathroom. There are eight rooms on this floor.

The starting point for this project was a 7,885 sq ft disused furniture warehouse that was in the vicinity of the Sekeping Kong Heng, next to the famed local Kong Heng coffee shop in Ipoh old town. The brief was to transform the space into a restaurant for the local restaurant chain, Plan B.

In addition, an extension has been added at the back, tucked away to reveal an inner courtyard with a dramatic stairway to the take guests up tot heir rooms.

It is located in a 3 storey neo-classical building which also houses a famous coffee shop of the same name on the ground floor that serves great coffee and the best local dishes in town. All effort has been made to preserve as much of the character of the existing building as possible in contrast to the surrounding new architectural intervention.

Mini old-style library just in front of the washrooms and kitchen part. Is a totally different atmosphere in this small area. The guests can just simply take a book and sit down to have a short period of peaceful moments.

 Now rejuvenated, it is hoped that Sekeping Kong Heng will be able to offer guests a slice of history within a real old town setting which is alive, working and real.

Sek San says, “I believe in using local materials as much as possible. Compare this with the impact of importing materials (which is the current paradigm in the architectural world): it is too expensive given the cost of transportation, and not sustainable.”


The end of the warehouse 
aced another development which housed the raised pool structure accessible by Sekeping Kong Heng hotel guests, and the space in between the two was buffered by planting of trees, which we called the ‘courtyard’.

There is always a crowd behind Patisserie Boutique CafĂ© (or should be next to the entrance of Plan b restaurant). This is a flea market, which used to be ridiculed as cultural desert. Usually such flea market is found in Kuala Lumpur, Georgetown & Malacca. The crowd was excited with the simple but attractive setup.Hopefully this will be a long term or permanent market that would certainly offer our guests of the city an unforgettable trip.

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