Design & Architecture

NOMAPS: Beautiful Pre-War House Turned Hostel in Historic Melaka

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This is part of an ExpatGo editorial series featuring creative architecture designs in Malaysia and the rest of Southeast Asia.

Nomaps is a flash-packer hostel re-crafted from an old double storey pre-war shop-house situated in the heart of Malacca’s UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Community breakfast hall

Designed for the adventurer, Nomaps provides an opportunity to transform a piece of history into a contemporary piece of art for the senses.  Efforts were made to preserve the character of the existing building interspersed with new architectural interventions.

This transformation is not just superficial mimicry to restore old glory, but rather is metamorphic to address modern day needs. The new contemporary DNA can be defined as light and airy, simple yet complicated, fun and lively.

Rear facade

The refurbishment brief for the old pre-war building demanded the creation of a new and easily recognisable spatial identity. Key elements comprise the off-form concrete reception counter, juxtaposed with old water-well at the lobby, new bathrooms with pendulous vintage lights, and a large trestle timber table made from re-used old floor joist at the dining hall, the 170 feet long meandering hallway with patinaed walls that offer an adventure in art and design.

Restored air vent well with new brick wall and mural

The building is ventilated by 3 air-wells, hence minimal mechanical air conditioning is required.  The roof is reconstructed using terracotta Marseille and V-Tile profiles which were the original tiles used in the 18th century houses.  The party walls were preserved in its original form with the old layers of plaster and patina exposed, whereby each layer represents a piece of history of the former house.

The traditional rear façade brise soleil is made from modernised Malaccan vintage window frames. The vivid coloured frames are arranged to illustrate a contrasting giant art piece where modernity and vintage converge.


Entry via brise soleil facade

The project coordinated the design of all interior elements including furniture, light fittings, artworks and murals. With a modest budget existing materials were re-used to rejuvenate the interior while preserving the core values of the former house. A brickwork collage becomes feature wall at one of the courtyards which is now a favourite chill-out section for guests.


Nomaps is a hidden gem where the old and new merges in a tight series of interior-scapes.


Architect: DRTAN LM Architect (in collaboration with SLT Architects Sdn. Bhd.)
Location: Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, Malacca, MALAYSIA
Built-up: 456.5 sqm
Land area: 242.5 sqm

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