Located in the small town of Lunas, in Kedah district near Penang, the Rubber Smokehouse stands as an example of Malaysia’s industrial heritage and the rubber industry that was of vital importance to Malaysia’s economy for much of the twentieth century. The preservation project brought together the different communities living in the area and created an awareness of their shared history. It also engaged Malaysian schoolchildren, who were charged with mapping and documenting a cultural history of their home. Sponsored by a local telecommunications company, the project was led by the architect Laurence Loh, whose family is originally from Lunas. The Rubber Smokehouse has been transformed from an abandoned and forgotten building into an important part of the town’s landscape and a focus for the rural community. It has combined the physical conservation of the historic fabric with youth engagement, intercultural tolerance and civic pride, a unique approach that shows how architectural interventions can play a role in advancing social cohesion in multicultural societies.
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