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Kuala Terengganu Chinatown is a township that was predominated by fishing activities. And as those days were slowly gone due to lack of demands and government actions, local lifestyle changed and people has but to turn up for other businesses. Eventually, the idea of modernization swept through the whole township, unevenly, that it saw a new architectural language of complexity with multiple layers of stories behind it. With these various historical transition and adaptation, the shifting policy of the Kuala Terengganu Chinatown had seen a forward progression in favor of urbanism, causing on the other hand, the diminishing of its local identity that the community still holds up to. These all becomes part of the identity of the place.

Without any principal source of local incomes, the township has to rely much on external resources to survive, and hence it is important to create an enticement that draws travelers to the place. To do so, it is important to incorporate local uniqueness into architecture. The primary concern is about accentuating, if not reviving the special characteristics that once define the place, in order to create an attraction that is strong enough to establish a bond between outsiders and the local culture.

This gives rise to the question of “How can we design a hotel architecture that is able to synthesize the relationship among outsiders and the locals?” While conventional hotel architecture usually exerts verticality and rich internal living ambience, it produced a rather generic atmosphere that feels nothing much different from staying at any places. It sounds questionable that as if people travels to other parts of the world just to feel like they are instead just staying in their own apartments. Is there a way to reimagine a hotel architecture to be more site experiential specific?

Tagging along the rich contextual experience, the PLACE - N - TEL is a hotel architecture that instead of cocooning the guest in an isolated box, it opens up to the maximum exposure of experiencing local community lifestyle and cultural value. The idea is about reimagining the walls, corridors, views, structures, that make up a typical hotel had been injected with elements that characterize local identity. Also by extending the horizontal public realm like a sheath of fabric to gently wrap up and hug the hotel rooms altogether acting as a backdrop, it forms a crucial role in which the public realm gives life to the hotel. Interactions between the outsiders and locals are in close proximity at every direction and critical.

Contradicting to the existing hotel typology of living in a micro-environment within the hotel itself, that the atmospheres are driven by the interior, it is much meaningful to shape the hotel ambience with the surrounding elements – people, culture and place. This cross-fertilization of public and private space generates a new form of hotel aimed to heighten the exposure of surrounding atmosphere during the stay, and to depict the story about a place through its architecture, hence establishing the romantic connection of people and place-making.

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