March 2016 Ampang Shopping complex

There are two pressing reasons why EXPLORERS should be visiting Ampang Park now:

  • built in 1973 it was the first shopping mall in Malaysia and has an interesting architectural pedigree  


  • it is under threat of demolition to make way for the MRT2 project

Ampang Park was designed by Design Partnership (DP), who are now the largest architectural practice in Singapore. 

Responsible for the design of many Singaporean landmarks such as Resorts World Sentosa, the Marina Centre and Eslanade Theatres on the Bay, DP also designed Berjaya Times Square.  The design of Ampang Park in 1973 was based on a new concept with the shops facing inwards to an internal street or atrium. It was initially planned to be fully air-conditioned, but as built, the atrium was cooled via natural cross-ventilation.

First impressions are of a dingy, run down building in need of an update. But soon the spirit of the place takes over. One starts to notice the few remaining specialist shops, one engages with the Ampang Park community and the complex takes on a life of its own.


We learnt that some specialist shops had been operating here for three generations. The Lee family at Haby and Wools is an Aladdin’s cave offering everything for needle and handcraft. Indeed they are the sole distributors of DMC thread in Malaysia, much to the delight of one of our Dutch members who had searched all of KL with little success…. until she joined our excursion on Monday 14th March……

Haby and Wools also hold classes in cross stich, tatting and (I suspect) many other things. Along another alley, Esther Chan can organise lampshade classes.  A diminutive, energetic Chinese lady, Esther can make anything into a lamp.


Some shops are reminiscent of a bygone age with hairdryers from 30 years ago, while other hair stylists compete in regular competitions, offering courses with a variety of wigs on show for practice!


Many ‘specialist’ service companies are secreted away in small offices off the main avenues. 

These include:

  • ozone therapy
  • Mr Chong who is evangelical about detoxing, selling castor oil, enema kits and more…
  • Christine who enthused about the benefits of a nutrition program including a special daily ‘shake’

In among the tailors and beauty parlours we also found a sport’s shop where you can have your racket restrung, a locksmith and cobbler, several opticians, a watch repairer and a singing shop offering classes for children and adults. 

There is also an exclusive night club on the roof. When enquiring of the manager if we could visit, we were firmly told ‘night club for members only, lah!’ And there are plenty of options to eat. Cozy Corner serves a set 3 course lunch with warm roll, butter and coffee for RM19, transforming itself into an á la carte restaurant  in the evening serving lobster thermadore and rib eye steak!


We settled for an early visit to the food court  which serves everything from delicious tandoori chicken and naan to excellent Vietnamese fresh spring rolls. See separate report of ENAK visit in Feb 2016.

We wish the ‘Save Ampang Park’ campaigners ‘good luck’ in their battle to retain their shops and hence their livelihoods.


Write up by Margo Rosenberg and photos by Jeanie Kennedy who both had a great time planning and delivering this excursion.