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  • Shop houses in Penang, Malaysia. The Aga Khan Trust for Culture and Think City will collaborate to enhance the built heritage of George Town.
AKTC and Think City to provide assistance for protection of George Town in Penang, Malaysia

Penang, Malaysia, 20 November 2013 – Under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) witnessed by the Rt. Honorable Mr. Lim Guan Eng, Chief Minister of the State of Penang, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) and Think City Sdn. Berhad (Think City) -- working with the support of local planning agencies -- will provide technical assistance for the protection, development and enhancement of Penang’s historic George Town, including developing strategic planning frameworks for the city.

In 2008, UNESCO declared both Melaka and George Town as a World Heritage Site (WHS). In the case of Penang, the WHS status is global recognition of George Town as a historic port city with a mercantile history that dates from the 1786 founding of the English East India Company trading factory in Tanjung Penagger (now known as George Town). 

The WHS status also recognizes the rich tradition of George Town’s multicultural and multi-religious character. It was the city’s social and cultural pluralism that was essential for the evolution of its impressive monuments and historic urban fabric, which is distinguished by several varieties of shop-house architecture.

The MoU brings together the expertise and networks of the AKTC and Think City. Under the agreement, the AKTC will help integrate prior planning work that has already been carried out by local authorities and professionals in to a high level, proactive strategic plan aimed at identifying ways to protect and enhance the built heritage of George Town.

The collaboration will allow both AKTC and Think City to bring the best in planning practices to enhance the future development of George Town’s historic core. These efforts will include the promotion of inward investment and the creation of strong public-private partnerships as well as specific local development programmes.

The Aga Khan Trust for Culture is recognized as one of the foremost organisations involved in matters of architecture, conservation and urban planning. Its Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme, which will be the main collaborating partner under the agreement, promotes planning, conservation and urban revitalisation in historic cities. It also undertakes the restoration and rehabilitation of historic structures and public spaces in ways that can spur social, economic and cultural development.

Individual project briefs go beyond mere technical restoration to address the questions of the social and environmental context, adaptive re-use, institutional sustainability and training. Its projects include major parks in Cairo and Delhi and urban revitalisation projects on sites as diverse as Zanzibar and Kabul. As a part of the Aga Khan Development Network, the Trust undertakes cultural projects within a broad continuum of development activities that usually encompasses economic, social and cultural initiatives.

Think City Sdn Bhd is a special project vehicle established by Khazanah Nasional Berhad, the investment holding arm of the Government of Malaysia. Think City, which is a 100% owned subsidiary of Khazanah, is tasked with the urban regeneration of Malaysian cities with its pilot programme in George Town. Think City is managing the George Town Grants Programme (GTGP) that was launched in 2009. Through the GTGP, Think City continues to support non-governmental organisations and local communities having committed a total of RM 16.6 million (USD 5.2 million) including 205 projects involving building conservation, community-led shared spaces and cultural mapping projects; as well as technical assistance & capacity building programmes.

Think City provides a working platform bringing different and oftentimes competing stakeholders to the table by way of innovative ideas. Think City continues to work closely with federal, state and local governmental agencies whilst supporting public private partnerships including the George Town Business Improvement District Scheme (BIDS), the Little India Joint Action Committee, Yayasan Islam Pulau Pinang and outreach & educational programmes by the George Town World Heritage Incorporated.

For more information, please contact:

For Think City

Daniel Lim
Think City Sdn. Bhd., Level 14, EPF Building,
No. 38, Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah
10050 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Telephone:+604 222 6800

For the Aga Khan Trust for Culture

Sam Pickens
Aga Khan Trust for Culture
P.O. Box 2369, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland
Telephone: +41 22 909 72 00
Facsimile: +41 22 909 72 91