MacLaren North and Donald Ellsmore travelled to Penang in June to present a three-day workshop on planning for the conservation of infrastructure in the George Town World Heritage site. This workshop built on the two-day workshop on the same subject presented there in December 2013.
George Town, like some other colonial cities in S E Asia, was built with open drains to carry surface water including monsoon rains. The structures are generally well constructed with semi-circular inverts lined with terra cotta, engineering brick kerbs and granite steps. Today these drains are heavily compromised with unauthorised connections and supercharged with commercial and domestic waste. The challenge therefore is to upgrade the system whilst conserving the distinctive elements of outstanding universal value for which the site is recognised with World Heritage inscription.
The workshop brought together municipal planners, engineers, administrators and local heritage specialists to work on solutions for the management of the drainage and related infrastructure in the context of the World Heritage Site management. During the workshop guidelines for upgrading the Prangin Canal were developed.