The building was constructed during 1920s. Originally, it was used as houses or shop-houses for local residents. Unfortunately, due to war, the original documentation of this building was no longer traceable.
After years, for some unknown reason, this building was abandon and fallen into despair, waiting for a new owner to bring back its once glorious life.
Discovered by Discerning Couple
The gloomy building began to see glimpse of light when a lovely couple - the world-esteemed architecture, Mr. Hijjas Kasturi and his wife - Ms. Angela Longworth saw and amazed by the art and decoration of the abandoned building.
They decided to bought the building and began converting the building into the type of hotel that they would want to stay in while exploring the delights of George Town.
A Brief of Hijjas and Angela
Hijjas is an experience architect whom had designed numbers of prominent buildings in Malaysia such as Wisma Equity, Menara Maybank, Menara Tabung Haji, Telekom Tower, Putrajaya International Convention Centre and 4G11 Tower in Putrajaya. Click here to find out more about Hijjas.
His wife - Angela is a passionate environmentalist.
Restoration & Redevelopment
Hijjas and Angela began to craft a meticulous plan to ensure the renovation of the building meeting their expectation. They also understand that for a heritage building, they only have one shot on the renovation.
After plumbing and wiring, they realised that normal design of tiles were just not enough to decorate the building. So, they expand their search to factories in Indonesia, that still making the traditional en-caustic cement tiles with presses from the 1930s. Delighted by the findings, the tiles were bought and used for the ground floor of the hotel including Clarke-Terrace House.
For the upper floor, originally was covered by timber, which Hijjas and Angela were able to retain some of them. But for others, they sourced second-hand timber recovered from demolished colonial buildings.
The roof was originally made from corrugated asbestos like other old Penang buildings. However, it was in bad shape and only few of them can be retained. Therefore, Hijjas and Angela decided to replace them with second-hand ‘Indian’ tiles that are used on all the older Penang buildings. Unfortunately, the couple were unable to find the decorative tiles to replace the lost ones on the front walls of Lebuh Clarke, so after careful consideration, they decided to leave them plain.
Construction After meticulous and thorough review, Hijjas & Angela had appointed Mr. Ooi Ban Huat as contractor for restoration of the building.
Mr. Ooi Ban Huat and his team all deserve appreciation and recognition in realising couple's dream through sheer hard work. Throughout the renovation process, the team opted for traditional methods wherever we could. Because of the method, the whole process were labour intensive and required skillful handwork. Despite of all the challenges, Mr. Ooi Ban Huat and his team were able to complete the project within 2 years.
A Touch of Green
Hijjas and Angela have used recycled materials as much as possible from restoration to exterior.
These included the roof tiles which had been salvaged from demolished buildings in Penang; the timber for structures and floors which sourced from demolished colonial period buildings throughout the Peninsula; and the reconstructed antique furniture from southern China where old pieces are re-fabricated.
The garden is planted with mostly indigenous Malaysian species to reduce heat and glare, increase soil permeability and provide as much greenery as the space would accommodate. The swimming pool is salt water to reduce chemical use.
The water is heated using a combination of solar panels (Transfer Suites) and eco-friendly hybrid water heater technology. Unlike normal water heater, the hybrid water heater technology offers a highly efficient heat transfer system that can extract energy from the air to produce hot water without the need of heating elements, electric boosters and hermetic compressors.
99 solar photovoltaic panels are installed in the building to increase energy saving. Besides, wherever possible, hotel lighting is installed with LED bulbs to reduce power consumption and rooms are served by a system that automatically cuts off power if guests are not on the premises.
Support Towards Handmade Both Hijjas and Angela knew just the way to uplift the building by sourcing rare and handmade materials. For example, the carpets that were handmade with bamboo mats from east Malaysia, patchwork kilims from Turkey, patchwork cow skin or sisal from India. They are now silently decorating each room of the hotel.
Dream Comes True
After 2 years of construction and persistence towards environmental friendliness, Hotel Penaga was given a Gold rating by the Green Building Index, making us the first heritage restoration in Malaysia that earned the title.
With total of fourty-five rooms and suites, Hotel Penaga had been welcoming guests from all around the world. Besides visiting Penang, most of our guests were traveling far to our hotel just to experience the nostalgic ambiance and decoration.
Definitely, we know that Hotel Penaga is not a true historical building like Suffolk House or The Blue Mansion - Cheong Fatt Tze. Instead, this is Hijjas' and Angela's version of dream comes true. Both of them just want to rejuvenate the neighborhood that was once under-appreciated.