FMS Survey Office, Kuala Lumpur (1911)
Official building for the Federated Malay States Survey Department, built on the Sanitary Board’s existing yard on Java Street. First occupied by The Trigonometrical Branch, which was relocated from Taiping and settled in their new offices by 7 March 1910 (cost of relocation $1000).
Hubback's Official Post/Role: Federal P.W.D Assistant Architect
Year Designed: 1909
Construction Commencement: August 1909
Year Occupied: 1911
Contractor: Messrs. Dunstan A. Aeria
Construction Cost: $150,000 Straits Dollars
Architectural Style: Mughal Eclectic
Brief Architectural Description: Building fronted by elegant loggia with clover-arched colonnades.
Original Use: Government Administration
Original Building Type: Office
Current Name: Old Survey Office
Current Use: Vacant
Current Building Use: Office
Gazetted as Malaysia's National Heritage in 2012
Gazetted Name: Bangunan Bekas Jabatan Penerangan
M218/72 S - Selangor Government Gazette, 12 March 1909
Minutes of meeting held at the Sanitary Board Offices.
No. 20 Federal Survey Offices, Proposed.
A design for the new offices for the Survey Department, FMS to be erected in Java Street, referred to the Board by the Resident for its views, is considered. Decided that the Board has no objection to the proposal contained in the letter of the Architectural Assistant, (A.B Hubback) but that it be pointed out that the contraction of the available area of the Sanitary Board yard will render the yard useless for licensing purposes, and that the other accommodation will have to be provided.
Malay Mail. Wednesday, September 28th, 1910 / The Malay Mail Weekly Edition, 29th September 1910, p3
The New Survey Offices. Rapidly Advancing Towards Completion.
The new Survey Offices in Java Street have now advanced so far towards completion that a short description of a building which will, when completed, be a distinct addition to the architectural features of Kuala Lumpur, may not be out of place. The exterior, indeed, is practically finished and the architect, Mr. A.B Hubback, F.R.I.B.A., is to be congratulated upon a very successful design. The building was begun in August, 1909, by Mr. D.A Aeria, whose contract, for $116, 572, extends to April, 1911. Such rapid progress has been made, however, that there is every prospect that the whole range of offices will be open by the end of this year.
The appearance of the building must be familiar to many of our readers, but, for the benefit of those who have not seen it, it may be mentioned that it is designed in the free adaptation of Saracenic architecture which is a characteristic of this town. It is constructed of brick, contains, in addition, a large amount of reinforced concrete and the plaster work is washed with buff coloured distemper. It is two storeys in height with a verandah on each storey and there are towers, surmounted by copper domes, at each end. These domes, which are octagonal in shape, will have minarets at each corner of the octagon when the building is complete. Toward the centre are two entrances, a distance of some 175 feet apart, communicating directly with staircases,and from the roof above each of the staircases rise two copper domes a good deal smaller than those at the ends. The main front, which is 399 feet long, faces on Java Street but the building is continued round the corner of the Batu Road a short distance to join up with the present Sanitary Board Offices, while at the other end it runs back for 110 feet facing on to a lane separating it from the office of the “Malay Mail”. The building is nowhere very deep but certain portions of it go back futher than others, partially enclosing three irregularly shaped yards. The height of the building is 39 feet from the ground to the top of the main cornice, but the two towers rise to a height of 80 feet. Reinforced concrete played a very important part, all the pillars of both the verandahs, the stairs, the upstairs floors and some of the division walls being made of it, while the flat roof of the verandah is constructed of the same material covered with malthoid. The use of reinforced concrete in the division wall is worth noting, since it enables substantial partitions to be erected on the upper storey without the necessity for supporting the floor on which they stand with girders underneath. The roof of the main building, as distinct from the verandah, is covered with Marseilles tiles, which especially commend themselves for use in a building where numerous sky-lights are needed-as they are in the Survey Offices for the photographic processes entailed by modern map-production – because they are made in exactly the same shape in glass and in earthenware, thus very much facilitating the laying of roof-lights.
Though the exterior of the building presents a level front to Java Street the interior falls into three divisions. That between the Batu Road and the first doorway and staircase will, as far as the ground floor is concerned, be no part of the Survey Offices, for in it will be the office of the Inspector of Hackney Carriages, a doorway connecting it with the other departments of the Sanitary Board on which it abuts. Here there are no windows, but a succession of arches leads from the verandah to the interior of the office where there will be a counter behind which the officials of the department will work. The base of the tower is open and forms a recess in the verandah. Upstairs are the offices of the Surveyor-General and his staff with an outlook upon Java Street and Batu Road.
The middle block, between the two doors, is roughly three sides of a square, enclosing a yard, open at the back. This will be the Drawing Department, the trigonometrical room being on the ground floor and the topographical room on the upper storey. In both these departments are fireproof strong rooms for the storage of instruments and plans. In the last block, that nearest the “Malay Mail” office, the map-making will be undertaken. This building forms a quadrangle with one opening into the yard which it encloses. The machine and zincographing rooms are on the ground floor as well as the repair shop which is situated at the back. In the tower is the office of the Superintendent of Machinery, and his room is so constructed that he can, without moving, overlook practically the whole of the department under his care. All the machinery here will be driven by electric motors. Upstairs are the camera and developing rooms, which are overlooked by the Superintendent’s room in the tower in the same way as the machinery room. In the front, next the stairs, is the office of one of the heads of departments. At the back are the chemical and paper stores, the latter being furnished with a hand lift by means of which the paper can be hauled up from the yard below and, when required, lowered into trolleys which will convey it to the machinery room. At the back of the whole building runs a range of sheds and stores. All the rooms are well proportioned and lofty, those on the ground floor being 20 feet in height and those on the upper floor 18 feet, while the verandahs correspond. The lighting is, of necessity, excellent; there is an abundance of large windows, the lower part of plate glass, the upper part with glass louvres for the sake of ventilation.
When in use the building should do much to facilitate the work of the Survey Department and at the same time go far towards removing the congestion which undoubtedly exists at the present time in the offices of the Federal Government, while its imposing façade gives it an element of dignity making it worthy to rank with the fine public offices of which Kuala Lumpur is so justly proud.
The Straits Times. Wednesday, October 4th, 1912
F.M.S Survey Offices.
In his annual report on the Survey Department F.M.S for 1911 Colonel Jackson, the Surveyor Genera, states that the new offices fronting Java Street, Kuala Lumpur, having been completed towards the end of 1910, the Trigonometrical Branch, whose headquarters had been hitherto in Taiping was instructed to move to Kuala Lumpur in January. The packing and despatch of furniture, records and equipment was commenced on January 25, and finished by February 2020, when the staff followed and were fairly well settled down in the new offices by March 7. The space provided for the Trigonometrical Branch, says Colonel Jackson, is quite commodious, but, owing the proximity of the new offices to one of the busiest streets for traffic and consequent dust and noises, they are in many ways not so well adapted as the old office in Taiping for the purpose of that branch. The cost of the removal was about $1,000.
ANM Acc. No. 2001/0041991
ANM Acc. No. 2001/0029249
Facade along Jalan Tun Perak (formerly Java Street/Mountbatten Road), 22 June 1977. Photograph courtesy of Mariana Isa.