Odeon Cinema is one of the few Art Deco-style buildings left in Kuala Lumpur and it will soon be replaced by a multi-storey retail and service apartment
Designed by British architect Arthur Oakley Coltman, who was also responsible for many other iconic buildings in Kuala Lumpur, Odeon Cinema was erected in 1936 by Cathay Organisation Holdings Ltd, The Star reported.
According to Astro Ulagam, the building had only one cinema hall with a capacity of 250, before its first floor was converted into a second screen in 2006.
Four years later, Odeon Cinema was closed down then reopened again in May 2011 under a new management. By 2015, it was obvious that Odeon Cinema could not stand the test of time and it was permanently closed.
The cinema used to run countless Malay and Tamil movies under the management of Kumpulan Pawagam Iswaria and Antenna Entertainments
In 1981, the cinema was chosen as the premier location for the then-most expensive Malay movie, Bukit Kepong, directed by and starred the late Jins Shamsudin.
Astro Ulagam described the cinema as historical and one that would evoke "nostalgia in those who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s."
Its closure will join the ranks of other cinemas of yesteryears, such as:
- TGV CapSquare (closed in 2013)
- Wilayah Complex cinema (closed in 2000)
- the cinema in Central Market (closed in 2010)
- Rex Cinema in Petaling Street (closed in 2002)
Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Nor Hisham Ahmad Dahlan said a part of the new retail-apartment building will retain its original facade
Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) has approved the motion of the new project and is in the process of issuing the development order.
"There was a request that part of the building's facade with the architectural features be maintained in the new design," Nor Hisham said.
"We cannot stop the development as it is a private building," he added.
A non-government organisation that deals with the preservation of Malaysia's built heritage, Badan Warisan Malaysia, said that conservationists were not against development but the developer should be sympathetic and retain the character of the original building.
Its president Elizabeth Cardosa argued that DBKL has the authority to set certain constraints on the development despite Odeon Cinema being a privately-owned property that is not up for public scrutiny.
Cardosa stressed that the new building should retain the heritage value of its architect.
Coltman designed over ten iconic buildings during his 32-year stay in Malaya from 1925 to 1957
Other than Odeon Cinema, the British architect also designed the Clock Tower at Market Square, OCBC Building, Oriental Building, Anglo-Oriental Building, Rubber Research Institute, Mercantile Bank KL (now HSBC), and many more, Free Malaysia Today reported.
All the buildings were built in the Art Deco-style, a design that boldly encapsulates delineated geometric shapes and strong colours.
Another iconic cinema, the Rex Cinema in Petaling Street, was turned into a creative space earlier this year: