War Museum: An Extension of Tugu Negara

Tugu Negara is one of the built monumental buildings during the post-merdeka period to commemorate sacrificed individuals that lost their lives in fighting with the enemies during Malayan Emergency. However, the representation of the events are weakly presented in the compound of Tugu Negara, hence the remembrance process is weaken and ineffective.

As long as memory stays alive within a group’s collective experience, Maurice Halbwachs argued, there is no necessity to write it down or to fix it as the official story of events. But when distance appears, conferring its distinctions and exclusions, opening a gap between the enactments of the past and the recall of the present, then history begins to be artificially recreated. To reconstruct the artificial memory of commemorated event, an appropriate device is necessarily being proposed in Tugu Negara.

The museum offers the viewer a particular spatialization of knowledge- a storage device- that stems from the ancient art of memory. To recall specific facts, or to remember parts of a speech, the orator visited the imaginary rooms, passing through the house in sequence and demanding of each location its specific contents. The path through the sequence of rooms narrated the evolutionary development of history and simultaneously walled in the heterogeneity of time.

To locate a museum in such historical and geographical significant site, a lower side of the hill where a vast area with less gradient is selected to orient the building, with such act, the evacuation of the soil at the slope is kept to the minimum and also without interfering occasional in-going commemoration activities at the existing Tugu Negara. Hence, the overall expression of the building is simple and horizontal, embracing the existing landscape by gently submerging into the ground, paying respect to the existing monument at higher altitude without overpowering it.

Two stages of memory construction are being applied in this design. Firstly, is the revelation of History of Malayan Emergency via the main thematic galleries, with the intensified sensory dimension with the power of light, shadow, and texture. Whereas the construction of memory is fully established with the engagement of visitors with the memorial wall with the name of fallen inscribed on it. The name as representations of individuals tend to evoke very specific memories about that individual, it will be immediately highlighted without symbolic reference.

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