On my recent visit to Melaka I noticed that a newly built Hard Rock Cafe is nearing completion on First Cross Street facing the river and Dutch Square.
The architects have made a good effort to blend in the design with the surrounding heritage buildings and I imagine a seat by the window will give diners a good view overlooking the river and the historic heart of this UNESCO World Heritage City.
It is disappointing though that the lower floor of the building, at street level, is going to be a rather ugly car park, which is out of keeping with all the other buildings in the core heritage zone, none of which have car parks. Melaka really does not need to encourage more cars into the city centre which is already choked with traffic. The combination of narrow traffic-clogged streets and cars parked everywhere means that ambling along lanes like Heeren Street is not as pleasurable as it should be.
In my opinion , the whole of the core heritage area should be permanently closed to traffic except emergency services vehicles, bicycles, trishaws, hand-carts or horse-drawn carriages. The streets should be resurfaced with fancy paving and provided with seating and landscaped planting. This would greatly enhance the tourists’ experience.
To compensate the residents and business owners in the zone for the loss of their on-street parking places, a multi-storey car park could be built outside the perimeter of the heritage area with spaces reserved for the residents.
- Make more use of the river. The Melaka River Cruise boats seem to be doing good business but it is only a round trip tour and not suitable as a means of getting from A to B. They should introduce low cost river taxis, similar to Dubai’s abras, with multiple stops along the river where people can hop on and off.
- The old buildings in the core zone and the buffer zone are protected from demolition but a lot of them appear to be empty or under-utilized. Imaginative ideas for attracting tenants into these buildings and breathing life into the city need to be conceived. They cannot all be converted into hotels and restaurants.