Sunday, August 30, 2015

The BLUE MANSION by Samadhi~ A 'Cheong Fatt Tze' 張弼士 Legacy

The Circa 1880s mansion built by the merchant Cheong Fatt Tze 張弼士 at the end of 19th century has 38 rooms, 5 granite-paved courtyards, 7 staircases & 220 vernacular timber louvre windows. The architecture of the mansion however originates from the Su Chow Dynasty Period in China. Other features of the house include Gothic louvred windows, Chinese cut and paste porcelain work, Stoke-on-Trent floor tiles made of en caustic clay in geometric pieces all shaped to fit to a perfect square, Glasgow cast iron works by MacFarlane's & Co. and Art Nouveau 48 stained glass windows. The mansion was originally built with careful attention to the principles of Feng Shui. The domestic annexe is built in front of it to prevent any road being built to create a T-Junction in front of it; it has water running through a meandering network of pipes that begin from the eaves of the roof, channelled through the upper ceiling, down the walls collecting in the central courtyard before being channelled away from the property via a similar network of pipes, in this case, underneath the entire flooring system and is built with a step in the middle to create a slope (to ride on the dragons back).

The distinctive blue colour of the mansion is the result of mixing lime with natural blue dye made from the Indigo plant. The blue was very popular in the Colonial period and the dye was imported from India to Penang by the British. The lime-wash was very effective in a tropical weather as it absorbed moisture and cooled the house whilst dispelling moisture without damage to the structural integrity of the walls. Though white was the most easily available colour, the indigo-blue was chosen as the former is a colour synonymous with death for the Chinese.

The mansion was purchased from Cheong Fatt Tze's descendants when his last son died in 1989 by Laurance Loh from ARKITEK LLA to save the edifice from encroaching development and demolition for high rise. While it remains until now, a private-residence, the property operates as a 16 Room Bed & Breakfast-cum-museum as part of the adaptive reuse of an ongoing restoration project which has won awards from UNESCO.

Laurence Loh paid RM12 mil for Blue Mansion and spent another RM7 mil to renovate it to its original splendour. This labour of love and passion took exatly 6 years time and today it is well-operated by well-known SAMADHI GROUP.
The mansion has also been featured in programs broadcast on various international television channels (CNN, BCC, The History Channel, Discovery Travel & Living).

TEL: 604-262 0006, 012-425 8717 (POH SEOW)