DATUM:KL goes bigger this year

KUALA LUMPUR: Architectural event DATUM:KL has been expanded into a month-long event and renamed DATUM:KL as the Kuala Lumpur Architecture Festival.

Into its ninth year since its inception in 2003, the event is expected to be officiated by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on July 1, 2011.

Organised by the Malaysian Institute of Architects (PAM), its president Boon Che Wee said the International Architectural Design Conference remains the anchor event, but shall from this year onwards be known as the NOW Conference.

"NOW implies an immediacy, a moment in the present to define new positions and potentials, an architectural update status! At a time when architecture seeks new directions and new beginnings, the debut conference will seek to examine and describe key trajectories of thinking and practice, and to underline the essential transformative aspect of architecture," he said at a media briefing on Thursday, June 16.

The festival modeled along successful international festivals such as the Venice Architecture Biennale and the London Architecture Festival would include exhibitions, talks, dialogues, workshops, forums and conferences.

Besides the NOW conference, there is also the Green Building Forum, the KL Design Forum and Datum Showbox (exhibitions).

Among confirmed speakers at the NOW conference are Zhang Li of Atelier Team Minues from Beijing, Laurence Loh of Akitek LLA from Penang, Jurgen Mayer H of J.Mayer H Architekten from Berlin and Hiroshi Nakamura of Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP from Tokyo.

The month-long festival is designed to appeal to both professionals in the building fraternity and the general public in Kuala Lumpur.

"The Festival seeks to invigorate discussions and participation amongst the public towards the direction and development of Kuala Lumpur," Boon added.

Boon said that the festival is an opportunity to showcase architectural initiatives to excite a newer and wider audience; to reinforce the notion that architecture is an essential consideration in the cultural agenda of the city.

"With Asia driving the global economy, we have never been this close to the creative centre of the modern world, and can afford to take more courageous creative risks if we are to match the optimism and vigour reflected in the works from Asia," he said.

The festival is supported by BlueScope Steel (Malaysia).

Its country president for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Somkiat Pintatham said the company has deep respect for architects, which acts as the custodians of heritage of architectural forms and spaces as well as the creators of tomorrow’s heritage.

BlueScope is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of pre-engineered steel buildings. It had earlier inked a memorandum of understanding with PAM to supports PAM’s efforts to promote architectural excellence through resources support.

Somkiat noted that last year’s event attracted over 2,500 participants, an increase of 10% from 2009 and is confident that the inaugural month-long festival will see a higher number of participants.

Boon (left) and Somkiat at the launch.

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