When travelling along the Bukit Katil road towards Tehel, it is hard not to miss Rumah Melaka on your left. Constructed entirely from wood in the style of a typical traditional Malay house complete with ornately tiled stairs on a vast 10 acre plot of land, the building certainly succeeds in grabbing your attention. As reported by the guard on duty at the front gate, most visitors would instantly whip out their cameras and snap a few shots. Well, its photogenic quality is undeniable and some quarters have even suggested that it is a good venue for filming period dramas and movies.
What gives Rumah Melaka its draw-dropping quality is the material and style of construction. In this day and age of concrete, glass and aluminium finished structures, it is very difficult to find a house or a building built entirely from wood. The cost of constructing a wooden building is also prohibitive as the price of this rare commodity has risen tremendously in recent years. Therefore, it is easier and cheaper to use other materials. However, as most of us can attest, a house built from wood evokes a sense of old world charm, of serenity and of peace with the environment. Wood is an organic material, so even when it is cut to size and treated, it continues to “live” and “breathe” and perhaps those qualities are the ones which contribute to its attraction.
Rumah Melaka is built on a 10 acre plot of land located in Bukit Katil. 5 acres of the original plot was allocated to the Malaysian Timber Industry Board (MTIB) which financed the construction of the building and currently manages it. The remaining 5 acres are managed by the Melaka State Government and several projects are currently pending. One of these projects is the construction of Taman 1Malaysia, located on the left of Rumah Melaka. Taman 1Malaysia consists of a huge hall the size of 10 badminton courts and comes complete with landscaped gardens, fountains and family recreation areas. It is slated to be completed in May 2011 and will be a perfect venue to host functions such as weddings, sports tournaments such as silat, badminton, taekwondo and basically function as a multi-purpose hall. For those holding their wedding party, bridal make-up rooms are also available within the hall. Your family, friends and relatives will also be able to stroll around the gardens, water fountains and snap pictures of the happy occasion. While lingering, they will be free to enter the grounds of Rumah Melaka for more pictures and to check out the furniture showroom and cafeteria located within.
So what is inside Rumah Melaka? The building is generally divided into 3 main sections. The first on the left houses a furniture and interior design showroom. If you are expecting a run of the mill type of showroom showcasing only traditional teak furniture, you will be in for a surprise. Besides wooden furniture (which happens to be solid wood and not those made from flimsy chipboard of plywood), furniture from other materials such as cast iron and with glass or upholstery finishing are also displayed in a tasteful style. Managed by FITEC, a subsidiary company under MARA, it is a chance for Bumiputra furniture companies to showcase their products and services. FITEC also offers interior design consultancy and kitchen cabinet design and construction.
The center section is occupied by MTIB and houses the main exhibition area displaying samples of Malaysian timber, information on the timber industry in Malaysia and useful contacts and networks. There are also 2 spacious halls for seminars, conventions, courses and workshops. These halls are also available for rent. For further inquiries, you can contact MTIB at 03-92822235 or Perbadanan Hang Tuah Jaya at 06-232 3308 (Mr. Hafizam). There are also 4 kiosks selling wood based products such as souvenirs, handicraft, soft furnishings, etc.
The final section of Rumah Melaka is an open space which consists of the office administration block, cafeteria, surau and toilets. This is also where garden furniture is exhibited. The cafeteria, Seri Kesidang, is worth checking out as we heard it is passionate in the promotion of traditional Malay cuisine and has made all types of “kerabu” their house speciality. “Kerabu” is a Malay salad usually served as an appetizer and there are many types to choose from, all redolent with fresh herbs, spices and local fruit and vegetables.
Rumah Melaka was recently in the limelight after its official launch on the 18th March 2011 by The Rt. Hon. Datuk Seri Mohd Ali bin Mohd Rustam, Chief Minister of Melaka where the Guest of Honor was The Hon. Dato’ Hamzah Zainudin, Deputy Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, representing the Minister. In its press kit, MTIB states that the objectives of Rumah Melaka are as follows:-
- To increase sales and income for Bumiputra and Small to Medium entrepreneurs (SMEs) involved in the furniture and wood based industry in line with Thrust 7 of the National Timber Industry Policy (NATIP) (Bumiputra Participation)
- To promote awareness and understanding of the development, importance and contribution of the timber industry to the socio-economic fabric of Malaysia to specifiers, architects, engineers, builders, interior decorators, students, the general public and tourists
- To generate demand and stimulate the use of wood and wood based products in the local market in line with Thrust 4 of the National Timber Industry Policy (NATIP) (Promotions and Marketing)
- To promote the local furniture industry and the use of timber in construction
- To provide exposure, awareness and knowledge on the different types of timber and their uses
- To promote the history and provide information on the development of the timber industry in Malaysia
Congratulations to Rumah Melaka on their official opening and may the Malasyian Timber Industry Board achieve all its objectives in time to come!
Linda Phua Sue Lin
Chief Executive Officer, Perbadanan Hang Tuah Jaya