Making the past part of the future

In an increasingly urbanized world, how can we make sure that the cities we live in have meaning and provide people with a sense of place and space? At AkzoNobel, we believe that balancing old and new is key to creating more Human Cities. Protecting our heritage can also have important long-term benefits for urban environments, such as attracting tourism and stimulating local development.

To fully appreciate the positive impact that safeguarding the past can have, you only need to look at Malacca in Malaysia. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008, the town’s unique architecture is being preserved through a partnership with AkzoNobel’s Dulux paint brand.

The project, which will run until 2019, involves Dulux providing technical and design support, as well as supplying suitable paints and coatings to help preserve the uniqueness and originality of the colors on 26 heritage buildings and monuments.

Once a thriving center for trade and cultural exchange between East and West, Malacca is a remarkable example of an historic colonial town. It’s easy to understand why local residents are so fiercely proud of its history and remain keen to preserve its architecture and culture, as well as their collective identity.

“History is a living process,” explains Serge Jardon, a Malacca resident for more than 25 years. “Each stone will tell you a story if you take time to listen. That’s why it’s important to preserve our heritage for the next generation, so that they can learn.”

Adds Jeremy Rowe, Managing Director of AkzoNobel Decorative Paints South East and South Asia: “People love these buildings. They’re a symbol of the past, but they’re also a symbol of freedom, independence and liberation and that’s why people look at them with fondness and treasure them as part of their heritage.”

The work taking place in Malacca is a testament to those who remain committed to protecting our past and serves to remind planners and architects that Human Cities are those that make the past a part of the future.