Kwai Chai Hong brings home ‘Best Placemaker’ under the NGO category
Kuala Lumpur, 12 November 2021 – The start of a new era in KL Chinatown began when a group of friends came together for a passion project. Soon after its launch in 2019, Kwai Chai Hong has become a buzz spot for people of all ages, attracting both local and international tourists, bringing footfall to the charming laneway and 10 attractive food outlets. The team behind Kwai Chai Hong today announces its biggest accomplishment yet, winning the Placemaker Awards ASEAN 2021 in the NGO category. This award recognition is the brainchild of Nextdor Property Communications, a placemaking consultancy, and Think City, a social purpose organisation focused on urban rejuvenation.
Life has been restored in the once-forgotten areas of Jalan Petaling and Lorong Panggung where pre-war shophouses, now rejuvenated, regain their charm to the public. Its vibrant energy is a result of Chinese cultural elements and exciting dining options which have completely transformed the space. To date, the QR codes on the interactive murals have received about 90,000 unique scans which translate to more than 280,000 visitors since it was established, despite closing for six months during the lockdown. Beyond being a tourist destination, Kwai Chai Hong has successfully created multiple art installations that celebrate the rich cultural history in the area.
Zeen Chang, Managing Partner of Bai Chuan Management shares, “We would like to thank the Placemaker Awards ASEAN organisers for this opportunity and we are genuinely humbled to see the outpour of support from the community and partners since we began this project. We are thrilled to witness the ripple effect Project Kwai Chai Hong has created in the neighbourhood. Just the sheer influx of new businesses around this part of KL Chinatown meant they saw the opportunities our project can bring. To us, success means everyone around us benefits as well and that we are able to uplift the community, not just commercially but culturally too. We hope to continue this momentum to pay homage to our cultural roots whilst sharing it with others. This award is special to us because we strive to build an inclusive and sustainable urban community at Kwai Chai Hong – a place where the past is not forgotten and the future celebrated.”
The organisers of Placemaker Awards ASEAN 2021 are true believers in the philosophy of placemaking. Imran Clyde, Co-organiser for Placemaker Awards ASEAN says, “Our heartiest congratulations to the team at Kwai Chai Hong for their success in rejuvenating the area. In the spirit of placemaking, the planning, design and management of public spaces that create vibrant communities are vital for cities undergoing rapid urbanisation such as Kuala Lumpur. Kwai Chai Hong stands out in its ethos, and we hope other placemakers in Southeast Asia will be inspired to initiate similar regeneration projects in spaces that have significant cultural and heritage value.”
On plans for the city, Hamdan Abdul Majeed, Managing Director of Think City, adds, “The Kwai Chai Hong project is a positive manifestation of Think City’s pilot projects in placemaking in Downtown KL. We have always believed in the power of small – that small demonstrative projects can spark ideas, creativity, and a sense of ownership in communities to take charge and make significant changes to their city on their own. It is our hope that Kwai Chai Hong and other independent projects like this will drive the transformation of Downtown KL into a creative and cultural district (KLCCD) – a programme in culture-based economic development that Think City in partnership with city authorities are working towards. Congratulations to the team for their well-deserved win, and for taking ownership and making a difference in their city.”
Currently on display at Kwai Chai Hong features an art installation themed ‘Illuminating Shadows 光 。影’, a play on lights and shadows through holographic materials. As the laneway reopens its doors to the public, the art installation has captivated the local crowd, a sight not to be missed especially for street photography enthusiasts and Instagrammers. The art installation will be up until 5th December 2021 while the laneway remains open to the public daily from 9am to 10pm, with strict SOPs observed within the vicinity. Don’t forget to drop by at one (or a few) of the 10 restaurants for a gastronomic experience. Full list of shops here.