Enjoy Hotel Penaga as Much as We Enjoyed Preparing it For You

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Hotel Penaga was originally a three row, double storey building with terraced houses and shophouses. Built roughly in the 1920s the building was renovated post war.

These art deco terraces are unique, but had fallen into disrepair because many had been vacant for years. In 2008 we bought them and began converting them into the type of hotel that we would want to stay in while exploring the delights of GeorgeTown.

Originally we were just looking for one house that artists in our artists’ residency at Rimbun Dahan outside Kuala Lumpar could use. However, this hotel outgrew our original need and we decided to take the full plunge.

Renovated In A Traditional Way

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Hijjas is an architect and Angela an environmentalist, so the renovation had to meet our expectations and respect our concerns. From Hijjas’ point of view, you only get one shot at renovating a building. New floors were essential once you replace the plumbing and wiring, so the cracked and aged patina that some renovations use was not for us.

After finding factories in Indonesia, that still make the traditional encaustic cement tiles with presses from the 1930s, we were very happy and used them throughout the ground floor of the hotel. The original upper floors were made of timber some of which we were able to retain, but for others we sourced second hand timber recovered from demolished colonial buildings.

The roof was made from corrugated asbestos which we replaced with second hand ‘Indian’ tiles that are used on all the older Penang buildings. Unfortunately we were unable to find the decorative tiles to replace the lost ones on the front walls of Lebuh Clarke, so after careful consideration decided to leave them plain. From the front view of Hutton and Transfer the windows and doors can be seen in the original house style. Both the tube line decorative tiles on the facade and granite slabs features in the garden came from China.

A Dream Boutique Hotel Created

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Our contractor, Mr Ooi Ban Huat, and his team all deserve appreciation and recognition in realising our dream through sheer hard work. Throughout the renovation process we opted for traditional methods wherever we could. Hence how labour intensive rather than material intensive the project was, but even so they were able to complete it within just two years.

While this building has been renovated we do not pretend that it is a true restoration such as that of Suffolk House or Cheong FattTze. Instead ours is adaptive and reuses elements of other buildings that were not so old, instead they are the very edge of the UNESCO World Heritage area.

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Hopefully what we have done will provide encouragement in this slightly shabby neighbourhood. Too many buildings have been left to quietly rot away which is why we are delighted to have had the opportunity to help rejuvenate GeorgeTown.

Hopefully you will enjoy this hotel as much as we enjoyed preparing it for you, and we are delighted to welcome you to Hotel Penaga.

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About Hijjas & Angela

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If you are interested in the artists’ residency that we provide near Kuala Lumpur, please visit www.rimbundahan.org.

To see other architectural work done by Hijjas go to www.hijjaskasturi.com.

Angela works with WWF-Malaysia www.wwf.org.my, the Malaysian Nature Society www.mns.org.my and collects indigenous trees for her garden at Rimbun Dahan.