Butterworth Digital Library

Institutional / 2021

Butterworth Digital Library

December 13, 2021
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The original structure was a 20-year-old abandoned building that used to be a market and a badminton court, which later turned into a rubbish depot. The site was so neglected that there was a lot of vandalism, even during the implementation of the project. At the beginning, the community was not convinced about the proposed new function so the implementing agency, Think City, needed to hold several public engagements and consultations. The consensus was that there would be a rubbish collection point provided in each of the residents’ housing block, so the adaptive reuse project could take place without disregarding the needs of a waste management system in the community.

As part of the Butterworth Baharu Initiative, the abandoned building was transformed into a digital library at a cost of RM6.6 million, along with a pocket park at the front and upgrades to the adjacent swimming pool. The aim was to provide quality amenities not only to the Butterworth residents, but also to the wider community in Kampung Benggali, Kampung Siram, Bagian Luar, Bagian Jermal and Kampung Gajah.

The digital library comes with an events hall that caters for up to 200 people, four discussion rooms, a kids’ area and a multipurpose room. So other than serving as a reading space, the facility will also accommodate informal civic and cultural events. Intended to be all inclusive, the engineers installed a platform elevator that connects spaces to all floors. A cafe has been slated to open to double as a discussion space and a meeting spot.


The facade was upgraded and the interior layout reconfigured to suit the new purpose. Considering the urban fabric and setting of the site, the designers decided to retain the external industrial look and designed a minimalist interior that fits the idea of a digital library. The spatial arrangement aims to provide comfortable reading spaces while promoting engagement among visitors.

The pipes and fittings were left exposed because the original building’s ceilings were low. To reduce the excessive solar heat gain on the west facade and entrance, the designers planted green creepers and installed double vacade vent blocks with glass panels. This is expected to promote natural ventilation and minimise reliance on air-conditioning.


Project Name
Butterworth Digital Library
Kampung Benggali, Butterworth, Seberang Perai, Malaysia
Completion Date
December 2019
Site Area
3167.74 square metres
Gross Floor Area
1726.78 square metres
Building Height
3 storeys
Project Owner
Chief Minister Incorporated, Penang
Project Partner
Majlis Bandaraya Seberang Perai
Implementing Agency
Think City Sdn Bhd
Architecture Firm
Zon Design Rekabina (ZDR) Sdn Bhd
Principal Architect
Ahmad Jaafar Azizul Rahman
Interior Design Firm
Zon Design Rekabina (ZDR) Sdn Bhd        
Principal Designer
Zaini Zainul        
Civil & Structural Engineer
Perunding YAA Sdn Bhd
MEP Engineer
Perunding YAA Sdn Bhd
Quantity Surveyor
Kuantibina Sdn Bhd
Landscape Architect
May Design Sdn Bhd
Main Contractor
United Builders Sdn Bhd
Interior Fit-Out Contractor
United Builders Sdn Bhd
Think City Sdn Bhd

As published in Construction Plus 3Q 2020: Adaptive Reuse
FuturArc Prize 2022

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