[ARC 1323] Architecture Culture & History 2
NAME OF BUILDING:
Royal Klang Club
Ng You Sheng
Loo Giap Sheng
Daniel Yap Chung Kiat
Royal Klang Club
Royal Klang Club is a recreation centre which located at Jalan Istana, Kawasan 1,
Klang Selangor, Malaysia.
The Royal Klang Club has come a long way from its beginnings as a bastion for
the white British when Malaysia was still Malaya and under Crown rule. There was an
informal gathering between a group of planters, the port Swettenham administrators and
shipping agents and civil servants at a wooden bungalow on stilts. The wooden bungalow
had later become the premises of the Klang Recreational Club when it was founded in
Klang was a place where East meet West when the administrative seat of the
Federated Malay State of Selangor. Though the planters who ran the coconut and rubber
plantations were European, their subordinates were locals who, upon learning English,
took to English ways. In an exchange of cultures, many Britons took it upon themselves
to learn Malay, Tamil and Cantonese. This was probably also due to the fact that young
British agriculture officers were actually paid for learning a local dialect.
The establishment of a recreation facility was, as quoted by R.O.Crawford, the
Club’s secretary at the time, “an undoubted necessity”. But letters dating back to 1902
suggest that there may have been administrative problems that could very well have
hampered the growth and formal establishment of the club in its early years.
Whatever theories that may be about the date of its founding, 1901 is the date
which members in recent times have long been led to believe is the year in which the
Club was firmly established. Equally clear is that the Royal Klang Club was then the
domain of the white rajahs; an elite recreation facilities for British civil servants. The
Club set then consisted of planters not unlike the writer Somerset Maugham, members of
the port’s operations staff and members of the British administration system such as the
District Officer, magistrates and medical officers. Another respected member was the
Chief Inspector of Coconuts, a gentleman dedicated to ensuring the quality of the copra
the estates were exporting.
The original clubhouse was a wooden house on stilts – in all probability a
government bungalow which had been set aside as a centre for social and recreational
activities which was restricted to Europeans only. The cost of the building was $1,000 – a
goodly sum in those times.
However, it being a restricted-entry recreation facility did not mean the Club had
no set-up difficulties. Correspondence from its formative years record genteel requests
for government funding to purchase furniture and a billiards table.
It was only five years later that a proper clubhouse was raised. The clubhouse was
built on land that was actually part of the Istana Alam Shah had not yet been constructed.
The Club’s current grounds were handed over to the Club chairman by the District Office
in 1906. Subsequent Chairmen and Presidents were to act as trustees of the property.
During the construction of Royal Klang Club, the land was belonged to Sultan
Selangor's palace grounds. The president of Royal Klang Club successfully convinced the
Sultan Selangor and land was bought after the completion of Royal Klang Club.
Although the land of Royal Klang Club was uneven and consists of plenty of slopes, it
does not affects the club very much because every sports are separated from each other
and built only on a flat and even surface.
By this time, the FMS Railway project had been completed, paring down the
arduous journey from Klang to Kuala Lumpur from a three-and-a-half hour journey by
boat and bullock cart to a two-hour ride by train. This made socializing easier and
resulted in a number of guests from Kuala Lumpur.
Completed in 1910 after a year’s work, the clubhouse consisted of a hall and
lounge area, dining room, bar and billiards room. The upper portion housed guestrooms
and a theatre, which became a venue for Christmas plays and concerts. The Club’s tennis
courts were the choice location for the Easter lawn tennis tournaments which was part of
the Selangor Lawn Tennis Association’s calendar of events. Its playing field saw rugby,
hockey and cricket teams vying for sporting dominance, with planters teaming up against
personnel from the port authority. The Skye Races, Klang’s equivalent of Ascot, was also
a much-awaited event, taking place on the grounds where the Klang Municipal Stadium
The Club survived the ravages of the Japanese Occupation in 1942 to 1945 by
becoming the recreation mess for Japanese Army officers stationed in Klang and Port
Swettenham. While the British returned to Malaya in 1945, it was only after the
Communist insurgency through the Fifties and up to 1960 that the Club once again
became a popular watering hole and meeting place for British folk. The President of the
Club was usually the District Officer or a senior police chief, although planters were also
considered for office.
The surrounding of Royal Klang Club is filled with trees and nature. If we were
playing outdoor sports, we could experience calm and relaxing feeling due to the shade
and wind provided by the nature and context.
A dining area was added to the Club’s structure in 1965. Called the Smuggler’s
Inn, it was nautical in design and dé featuring fishing nets, beer casks and ship beams.
The large liquor bottles seen today on display near the rafters of the inn are a throwback
to the Sixties. The Smuggler’s officially opened its door on 18 September, 1965 with a
buffet supper being the first meal served.
In the later part of the Sixties, under the Presidency of Reginald (R.J.) Collins, an
avid theatregoer, the Club saw an increase in the activities of all things dramatic. It
became the centre of British theatrical circles following the establishment of the Klang
Theatre Workshop in 1967. Although there was an increase in the number of Malaysian
faces in the membership after 1957, the Club fell on hard times after Independence. With
the British planters and civil servants departing, the only regular Europeans were those
from the shipping industry who treated the Club as just another port of call.
Malaysian members were still screened carefully in the Sixties, resulting in the
cream of the local crop comprising prominent businessmen and professionals. By this
time, however the Club had deteriorated from lack of maintenance and was highly
The first Malaysian President, Dr Lim Sian Lock, was the man responsible for
pulling the Club out of the red when he took office in 1972. Membership fees were raised
to $50, leaping to $300 in 1974. The fee broke into the four-figure range in 1983 when
membership cost $1,500.
The Club grew to include a swimming pool and annexe during the presidency of
its second Malaysian head, Koh Seng Chong in 1976. Although membership increased
steadily under third President Dato Shaari bin Mat Jihin who served from 1978 to 1981,
the Club did not become a noted sporting entity, with the exception of gold and cricket,
until the Eighties.
However, the long-standing tradition of a Club-wide celebration of the major
festivals was born in this period and continues today. In 1983, the Club was renovated
and expanded under fourth President Tan Kim Chooi who holds the record for the longest
term in office with 10 years. Membership continued to grow under subsequent Presidents
Peter Tan and current head R. Nageswaran. But that is another story altogether. The
Club’s millennium development is explored in the next chapter.
Today, the Royal Klang Club is a landmark in the royal town where Klang
notaries continue to gather socially and professionally, to partake in hearty fare, enjoy
sporting camaraderie and build better communities. The past remains a book to learn
from but the future is wide open and is being written even as this is read. And with such
an illustrious past, the future can only be better.
Architectural element and style
Royal Klang Club was built in Klang under British Colonial Government.
Although this building was built under British Colonial Government, it had adopted the
Malay traditional house’s concept in design. Malay traditional house consists of the
elements such as vernacular roofs, harmonious proportions, adorned with decorative
elements, shading and ventilation, have stairs and the using of renewable materials. All of
these elements can be shown on Royal Klang Club.
First of all, the planning layout of Royal Klang Club had shown similarities with
the Malay traditional house. The orientation of Royal Klang Club is facing north-east
which had adopted the same concept of Malay traditional house which was facing eastwest to minimize areas exposed to solar radiation. Besides that, this orientation also suits
the wind pattern in Malaysia. Thus, the building will have good ventilation and provide a
cooling space in a tropical country. In the building layout, open plan concept was adopted
in the design of Royal Klang Club in order to provide good ventilation. The elongated
open plans allow easy passage of air, assuring cross ventilation is achieved and thus
create good ventilation.
Renewable material such as timber was used to construct Royal Klang Club in
seventies which share the same feature as the Malay traditional house. Timber used in the
construction of Royal Klang Club usually connected without nails.
The most specific element that we can see on this building is the top part of this
building, which is gabled roof, a basic design of vernacular roof that was used in Malay
traditional house. The roof is extended for quite a distance from the exterior wall of the
building, creating a big area of shades which can cover the building from taking in direct
sunlight and heat. Besides that, the roof designed on a Malay traditional house can trap
hot air and push through the air vent design under the roof. This design can effectively
decrease the heat in the interior space. Furthermore, there was no ceiling panel used in
Malay traditional house to assure that no air blockage. This building had used terracotta
roof tiles because terracotta is a bad conductor of heat, thus the building will remain cool
even during hot climate. Vernacular architecture style in this building was shown by the
construction of the corridor around the main building. The roof is extended to cover over
the corridor, also creating large shades to prevent the main building from taking in the
direct sunlight and heat, maintaining a lower temperature inside the building, which the
design is very suitable for the tropical climate in Malaysia.
Besides the roof, fenestration design was introduced in Royal Klang Club to
ensure good ventilation in the building. The windows of this building are also an
important architecture element showing the combination of colonial and vernacular
architecture style. There were plenty of large windows and doors can be seen in Royal
Klang Club and those windows were constructing at the body level. This is to allow cross
ventilation in the building. Coordination of architectural elements can be seen between
the corridor and the window.
Royal Klang Club was built on stilts during seventies which had adopted the
elements of Malay traditional house. The reason of building on stilts was to enhance the
ventilation. As the air velocity increase with altitude, Royal Klang Club which built on
stilts will have better ventilation.
The interior of Malay traditional house is adorned with decorative elements which
can also apply in Royal Klang Club. The interior spaces of the Royal Klang Club were
decorated with the leftovers of British colonial ship. The beams, ceiling and columns are
mainly made by timber, the beams are big rectangular in shape and there are repetition of
smaller beams all over the ceiling. While the columns are cylindrical in shape and painted
black in color, marine ropes and fishing nets can be seen hanging on top of each column,
as decorative elements, it gives the interior a feeling of the ship. It is said that those
decorative elements are all from an ancient ship in Port Swettenham which is abandoned,
they were well kept and displayed until now. These decorative items have made Royal
Klang Club become a place of interaction between Malay traditional culture and British
Every historical building has a priceless essence and value, and the essence of the
Royal Klang Club is the theme and elements of Nautical. The wine rack was dismantled
from the ship and installed above the drinking bar table. The rack was repaired and
repainted to prevent future deterioration. They displayed the liquors along the rack for
decoration purpose only because the liquors are no longer safe to drink due to the
expiration period. Orange lighting are projected along the top and the bottom of the rack.
Besides displaying liquors, the rack creates the support for the water pipe system.
The interior design of the club was intended to create classical and mysterious
experience to the users. They used milled wood as primary material to construct the
structure and furniture such as bar table and stood, wine rack, column, wall and etc.
Milled woods were used because it was widely available during Sir Frank Swettenham
arrival period. The milled woods were adopted from the abandoned ships in Port
Swettenham. The interior design of the club was based on nautical theme in the 19th
century to express ancients and antiquated sensation. The additional of orange lighting
gives luxury and noble feeling to the users. The classical music played complements the
environment by creating the sense of calm and harmony.
The Royal Klang club is the building that is built by Malaysian under British
colonial, but this building experienced the style of Malaysian traditional house, Kerala
architecture style and a little of British style in the interior. The most specific element that
shown Kerala architecture style on this building is the top part of the building, the roof.
Then, the column and some element of this building showed the British style.
Kerala architecture style is mostly found in Indian state of Kerala. Kerala's style
of architecture is unique in India, in its striking contrast to Dravidian architecture which
is normally practiced in other parts of South India. The architecture of Kerala has been
influenced by Dravidian and Indian Vedic architectural science (Vastu Shastra) over two
millenniums. The Tantrasamuchaya, Thachu-Shastra, Manushyalaya-Chandrika and
Silparatna are important architectural sciences, which have had a strong impact in Kerala
Architecture style. The Manushyalaya-Chandrika, a work devoted to domestic
architecture is one such science which has its strong roots in Kerala.
The primary elements of all structure remain the same. The model is normally
circular, square or rectangular plain shapes with a ribbed roof evolved from functional
consideration. The most distinctive visual form of Kerala architecture styles is the long,
steep sloping roof built to protect the house's walls. The roof frame usually made of
hardwood and timber.
The natural building materials available for construction in Kerala are stones, timber, clay
and palm leaves.
Rumah Muar ( Malaysian Traditional House )
One of the Malaysian traditional houses made by timber and hardwood. This
Rumah Muar also contents the characteristic of Rumah panggung. This Rumah muar has
stairs infront of the house. Then the wall, window and the roof frame were made by
timber. Now Rumah muar still can be found in Johor.
The most striking part in royal klang club building is the roof. The roof part look
very similar with the roof of the Mishkal Mosque building which content the
characteristic of Kerala architecture. After that, Royal Klang club also content the gabled
roof and dormer roof, which is also one of the characteristics of Kerala architecture. The
Royal Klang club building did renovation in 1983 which they add on the gazebo on the
entrance of the building like a walkway. The roof part of this gazebo looks very similar to
Malaysian traditional house roof which called Rumah Muar, and lastly the wall of the
building is like conventional brick wall and didn't have any specific style.
In the conclusion, the Royal Klang Club consists of many different architecture
styles due to the impact of the environment and the user since 19th centuries until now,
for example, it consists of the concept of Malaysian traditional house, British colonial
style, Kerala architecture style and Rumah Muar style. Besides that, the soul of this club
house is the theme of Nautical, which all the nautical elements were from a real
abandoned ship and the building itself is located near the port klang. Due to the
complicated mix of architecture languages in the club house, the users of the club today
doesn’t really know the architecture style of the building, even the club’s staffs and
manager can’t tell the architecture elements. Today, the building is a combination of
traditional and modern architecture and it is open for all citizens to apply for membership
and enjoy the facilities provided.
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Royal Klang Club. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.royalklangclub.com.my/
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NG YOU SHENG
LOO GIAP SHENG
DANIEL YAP CHUNG KIAT