Best Laid Plans

The PEAK Malaysia|May 2020

Best Laid Plans
One of Malaysia’s legendary architects sheds light on being the latest recipient of the prestigious PAM Gold Medal.
Mindy Teh
On the fringe of Brickfields, in between a row of old shophouses, stands a colonial-style building flanked by two Oriental stone lions on either side of its imposing wooden doorframe. Where once a shopfront or house like this would not be out of place in Kuala Lumpur, Wei-Ling Gallery today stands out in the row for its rare frontage and as the lone Chinese establishment on a street known for its banana leaf rice and Indian delicacies. Inside, impeccable works of contemporary art represented by its discerning proprietor, Lim Wei-Ling, are perfectly juxtaposed by the collection of antiques and curios on the ground floor.

“I like it like this!” says Prof Dr. Jimmy Lim, Wei-Ling’s father, of the neighbourhood’s rich culture with the gallery adding to its diversity, all the while munching on a freshly fried vadei, his mug of Chinese tea on the side. “There’s everything for everybody!”

He’s dressed casually in a short-sleeved Hawaiian shirt and a necklace made of large cuts of amber (“You know what has made amber so expensive now? Jurassic Park! I collected them when nobody wanted them!”), with shoulder-length hair tousled as if he had rushed out of bed that morning and his signature salt-and-pepper beard. Lim’s architect firm, Jimmy Lim Design (formerly CSL Associates), was previously housed in this building before the back of the shophouse was razed in a fire in 2004. Not one for self-pity, the architect reimagined the space, knuckled down on construction and the building found new life as Wei-Ling’s gallery the very next year.

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May 2020