THE Butterworth Digital Library (BDL), which is the first digital library in Seberang Perai, has achieved a rare distinction by winning not one but two special awards recently.
The first award was the Malaysian Institute of Interior Designers (MIID) Reka Awards 2020 under the Green Interior and Adaptive Reuse category and the second was the Architect’s Association of Malaysia (PAM) Awards 2020 under the Adaptive Reuse category.
MIID Reka Awards, which were inaugurated in 2013, are a platform for upcoming and well-established interior designers to receive recognition for their talent, expertise and excellence in pursuing their artistic abilities and technical know-how.
For PAM Awards, they were established in 1990. The awards recognise Malaysian architects who pursue excellence in design and promote the advancement of a quality built environment that creates a positive impact (socially, physically or culturally) in Malaysia, as well as highlight the diversity of Malaysian architecture.
And the person behind this successful project of Butterworth Digital Library was none other than the BDL architect himself, Ahmad Zaini Zainul Abidin, who managed to transform an old and abandoned building to its current state.
“The two awards were totally unexpected because of the fierce competition under the Green Interior and Adaptive Reuse categories.
“Green interior is by having a green focus that incorporates earth-friendly practices and products while adaptive reuse refers to the process of reusing an existing building for a purpose other than which it was originally built or designed for.
“For MIID Reka Awards and PAM Awards, they attracted more than 100 submissions from other architecture firms nationwide for both categories.
“I submitted the BDL entry last year for both categories and was informed of the results this year. The award ceremony was already conducted via online for PAM Awards (Jan 6) and MIID Reka Awards in April this year.
“I could not believe it. It was like a dream come true. I am truly honoured and grateful for that.
“BDL project is like my legacy for the local community in Butterworth since I was also born and raised there.
“I am glad that I can contribute something valuable to my community through this beneficial project,” Ahmad Zaini said during an exclusive interview with Buletin Mutiara at the Butterworth Digital Library recently.
According to Ahmad Zaini, the Butterworth Digital Library is a bit different when compared with other digital libraries on the island.
“Although the fundamental concept is the same, the difference here is that it is located at the centre of a community.
“This means, it is easier for the people to come here by just walking from their house because it is within their neighbourhood.
“We also include more green elements in its interior and exterior designs.
“Although it was a very meticulous process to design everything here, the end result is very satisfying.
“It was actually an abandoned building that used to be a multipurpose hall and also a wet market for the local community here a long time ago.
“So, instead of destroying the old building, I’m proud that I manage to transform it into something that can benefit the local residents here in Butterworth,” said Ahmad Zaini, who has been involved in the architecture field for 35 years.
Located in Kampung Benggali, BDL is a double-storey building, fully equipped with a community hall, a digital library, conference and seminar rooms, teleconference room, indoor playground for kids and cafeteria.
The BDL project was announced in 2018. Construction works began in April 2019 and were fully completed in January 2020 with the cost of RM6.6 million.
The digital library project was done through a public-private partnership (PPP) between Think City Sdn Bhd, Seberang Perai City Council (MBSP) and Penang government, through Chief Minister Incorporated (CMI).
BDL is the first digital library in Seberang Perai and the fourth of its kind in Penang.
The other digital libraries are located in the island, namely Penang Digital Library 1 and Penang Digital Library 2 in Jalan Masjid Negeri, and Penang Digital Library @ Batu Maung at Southbay Plaza in Batu Maung.
Story by Riadz Akmal
Pix by Noor Siti Nabilah Noorazis