The Old Market Square Clock Tower - An Art Deco Clock Tower

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The Old Market Square Clock Tower

The old clock tower in the Old Market Square (Medan Pasar in Malay) was designed by Arthur Oakley Coltman (AO Coltman) - the same architect who was responsible for the design of a number of Art Deco structures in Kuala Lumpur namely the Oriental Building, the Anglo-Oriental Building, the former Overseas Chinese Bank, Odeon Cinema and the Lee Rubber Building among others.  The Art Deco Clock Tower is revolutionary in design for its time. It was erected in 1937 in commemoration of the coronation of King George IV, but the original memorial plaques have been removed.

Market Square Clock Tower
The sunburst motif on the doors at the bottom of the Clock Tower

The geometric art form shows the influence of Cubism, and Futurism. The geometric sunburst motif on the doors at the bottom of the Clock Tower is of special interest, as it is more commonly found on windows and above archways than on a clock towers. The sunburst and rising sun motifs in Art Deco convey a sense of strength and optimism in a time when the Great Depression was imminent.  Art Deco in then Malaya was most commonly applied to the facades of 1930s shophouses.

These shophouses feature the typical devices of Art Deco - the abstraction of a facade into strongly  emphasized vertical and horizontal elements with decorative expression reduced to patterns of abstract geometrical shapes.

The Old Market Square, Kuala Lumpur
The Old Market Square, the first commercial centre of Kuala Lumpur which was opened and developed by the third and the most famous Kapitan China, Yap Ah Loy.

Also fascination with the Orient and the Far East was beginning to grow in the West in the 1920s and this delight in all things exotic was translated into pyramids, ziggurats, rising suns, running deer, Japanese cranes etc.


Art Deco clock tower
The Clock Tower stands right at the centre of the Old Market Square


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