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The Study of Thermal Comfort and Lighting Performace in Heritage Building
Mohammad Ashraf bin Abdul Rahman with supervision from Dr. Sharifah Fairuz Syed Fadzil & P.M. Dr. A. Ghafar Ahmad


Malaysia has just celebrated its 50th Independence on 31st August 2007. Even we are free from colonization about half a century ago, yet the remaining heritage buildings can still be seen till today. Among some of the heritage buildings is Sultan Abdul Samad Building (Kuala Lumpur), Stadthuys (Malacca) and Kapitan Keling Mosque (Penang).

These buildings have historical and heritage value therefore many actions have been taken by private or public sector to ensure these buildings is well preserved for the future generation. Consequently, our government has gazette several Act and legislation to ensure the originality especially in the usage of construction material like the National Heritage Act 2005, Antiquities Act 1976, Johore Enactment No 7 of 1988, Malacca Enactment No 6 of 1988 and other laws and legislation.

In conjunction with modernization, the heritage buildings that exist till today are influence by environmental surrounding climate that caused most of the buildings to be uncomfortable to the occupants. Global warming too, worsen the condition. Therefore nowadays we find that most of these buildings used mechanical ventilation as their alternative ventilation to ensure the occupant’s comfort.

Changes in technology too, contribute to the changes in function of certain elements in the heritage building. For example, modern lighting is frequent used than the existing lighting in order to fulfil the current needs. With the source of lighting in the market, the lighting quality on the building gives a great impact but in reality lighting is for the purpose of giving a better luminous effect.

All these reason has motivate the writer to make a deep research on thermal comfort issue and lighting in the heritage buildings.


Kapitan Keling Mosque is located at Kapitan Keling Road, Penang is one of the oldest mosque built by the East India Company in the late 18 century. This mosque was built by Caudeer Mohudeen who is one of the Hindu Muslim leaders at that time. In 1801 18 acres of land are used to build the mosque. After his death in 1834 the land is no longer valid. Construction of road and houses reduce the space of the mosque to 8 acres in 1903. This magnificent mosque was built in 1916 to replace the old mosque. According to Majlis Agama Islam Pulau Pinang (MAINPP), after the reconstruction in 1916, Kapitan Keling Mosque has been renovated for four times in a year before its been proposed for preservation in 1996.

Now, Kapitan Keling Mosque has been operational after its conservation in 2003. Conservation helps to restore the mosque from environmental threat such as rain, parasite, and vegetation. Religious activity could be carried out as usual. Nevertheless, close precaution has to be taken in issues such as comfort and conducive for them to do their religious activity. Hot and uncomfortable environment in a way will distract daily activities of those pilgrims especially at peak hours during prayer and on Friday, Tarawikh prayer that make the pilgrims to have the attitude of “laziness” of taking part in religious activity at mosque because of the uncomfortable condition.

The usage of mechanical tools such as air conditioning can help to achieve the optimum thermal comfort. However, the use of mechanical device is limited because it gives effects to aesthetic value and the aim of conservation objective. A. Ghafar Ahmad has made a guideline in his short term research grant stated that several aspect has to be taken into consideration in installing the air conditioning in the old building. One of the aspects that he stated was that the installation of air condition does not damage the building neither does it affect the aesthetic value.

Unsuitable lighting has reduced the value and original condition of the mosque. New absorption source of light indirectly has blocked the usage of daylight that should be applied overall in the mosque. Besides saving the energy effectively, usage if daylight can lighten one’s feeling and is suits the Islamic religion as it request each individual to be more meticulous and not misspent


The research is directed by the following question:-

1. What are the general physical conditions of the building? Are these conditions within the local comfort zone criteria?
2. Are people comfortable in the building?
3. What are the general illumination levels with daylight and electric light?
4. Are people satisfied with the quantity and quality of light in the building?


1. To study the effect of climate and surrounding environment to the internal of the heritage building
2. To determine the level of thermal comfort and lighting performance in the heritage building
3. To compare the level of thermal comfort and lighting performance in the heritage building with the new building


Compare to the new mosque, the old mosque has a better thermal comfort and lighting.


The research scopes include all of the following:-
1. Heritage Building
For the meaning of heritage building, the writer has chosen Kapitan Keling Mosque as a case study and Tanjung Bugah Jamek Mosque as a comparison study
2. Environmental Study
Focus are given to topic element that is thermal comfort and lighting
3. Heritage Building occupants
Include the staff and prayer group that used the mosque


1. This research is restricted to the research area only (Kapitan Keling Mosque and Tanjung Bugah Jamek Mosque)
2. Weather condition when taking the reading of the environment
3. Limited time and budget should be taken into consideration in completing the research

Methods applied in the research are based as the reference towards the objective of the research whereby it is aim at researching the thermal comfort and lighting in a heritage building. In addition, this research is in four (4) stages that includes a literature study, gathering of data, data analysis and recommendation.

1.8.1 Research design

Reserach done on this heritage building of the thermal comfort and lighting is mainly on the quantitative and qualitative aspect. Generally this research can be classified into 5 main sections that include all the following:

i . Information gathering
Three approaches have been suggested in order to carry out this descriptive and exploration research. Syed Arabi Idid (1998) express that the three approaches are make a survey, getting their opinion and depth description of the research area. The writer highlighted that this approaches is known as information gathering method. Information is obtained from the research document while the primer information is obtain from four other method that is through observation, interview, questionnaire and fieldwork measurement at research area.

ii . Document research
Document research is divided into three sections that are the first is the theory or the literature review of the research field, concept, principle and practice on the main topic of the research, thermal comfort and lighting. This theory part is important because the information obtained could be understood clearly. Furthermore, document research will forsee and explain in detail everything that concern with preservation of the heritage building. This preservation practiced include of standard, guideline, legislation that related to the topic of research.

iii . Case study
Case study is one approach to investigate further in details. Through case study, full information could be gathered through observation and participation. Case study will further make a close examination from an angle to get a close visualization of the information needed. The study of thermal comfort and lighting in heritage building has chosen Kapitan Keling Mosque as the case study and Tanjung Bungah Floating Mosque as a comparison study.

iv . Analysis of data
Primary and secondary data that are obtained from document research, questionnaire and information on case study will be analysing. Data obtained will be gathered, analysis through descriptive and analysis method.
v . Suggestion and recommendation
This is the last stage and is the main objective of the research. Analysis from the guidelines and case study will lead to a discovery of the research and hence results and answer to the problems. Discovery obtained will help in the research framework, suggestion and guideline to the project.

1.8.2 Method of obtaining data

In order to obtain the enunciation from these two methods involved the process primer and secondary data is much used.

i . Primary Data.
Primer data is the data that is obtain directly from the processing area. Primer data is obtain through several process such as observation, interview, fieldwork measurement and questionnaire

ii . Secondary data
Secondary data is the second data that obtained from the second party, which is the party that involved in the running of the process. Among those involve are the Majlis Agama Islam Negeri Pulau Pinang (MAINPP), Penang City Council (MPPP), Penang Heritage Trust (PHT) and many other agency. Other sources such as project report that has been done by experts in the field and research report that has been carried out by others.

1.8.3 Methodology charts

Figure 1.1: Methodology charts show the flow of the research.
Source: Own research


In general this research focuses on seven (7) chapters as show in the statement below:

1.9.1 Chapter 1: Introduction
This chapter will give a brief on overall subtopics of the study. On the beginning of this chapter, the writer will explain about the introduction of the dissertation, objective and scope of the topic. The explanation covers priority objective of the study, which might need to be achieved. It will follow by the methodology and arrangement of chapter.

1.9.2 Chapter 2: Thermal Comfort
Chapter two will touches about the general overview of the thermal comfort which consist the definition, terms, history, background, types, functions and other aspects that related with thermal comfort.

1.9.3 Chapter 3: Lighting
Chapter three will discuss on lighting and its performance. This chapter will determine the meaning of lighting, basic approaches and the important of lighting in a building. The topic also will discuss about the type of lighting and its operations which must be related to its function.

1.9.4 Chapter 4: Heritage Preservation
Chapter four discuss on heritage preservation from the functional view, problems and importance including the regulation that used. This chapter also touches on the importance of research area on the heritage building.

1.9.5 Chapter 5: Case Study
This chapter will cover on the topic proposed which is “The Study of Thermal Comfort and Lighting Performance in Heritage Building”. It consists of the data collected from the case study precisely including the historical background, development sequence and other information related. The case studies of the dissertation are Masjid Kapitan Keling and Tanjung Bungah Floating Mosque. This chapter also copes the problem arise at the case studies.

1.9.6 Chapter 6: Analysis of Data
Chapter six will analyze the data collection from the case study and transfer it into the diagram or graph. In this chapter also consist of the interpretation and analysis of the result obtained from the fieldwork measurement and survey research. It is also to determine the problems exist and to define the most unsatisfactory facing by the users in the case study

1.9.7 Chapter 7: Conclusion & Recommendation
At the end of the study, this chapter will enclose the conclusion and recommendation of the study to summarize the overall topic clearly.


Figure 1.2 presents a timeline depicting the work that need to be done start from the first day of research until meet the deadline.

Figure 1.2: Timeline showing progress on research project.
Source: Own research


The aim of chapter one is to explain briefly about the flow of the research. It will later be explained in detail in other chapter. This research hopefully can build a platform to the society in changing their perception of heritage building and turn it as an asset of Malaysia in future. But the most important thing, this research hop
efully is able to be guideline of the environmental and heritage study in Malaysia.


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