KL photo fixations: the Petronas twin towers and the urban-scape

Greetings from Ubud. We were in Kuala Lumpur until a few days ago, but the change of atmosphere we got when we arrived in Bali was so drastic that it now feels like it was ages ago when we left the huge capital city of Malaysia on our first Air Asia flight to Denpasar.

Due to its relative youngness – it was only founded in 1857, and became capital city 100 years later – KL has a modern soul which reflects in its architectural look, in the efficiency of its well thought-out transportation system, and in the abundance of shopping centres. Did anyone mention to you that KL is a paradise for the shopping-addict? I actually got mad when I found out that there was a shopping centre (Low Yat Plaza, in the heart of the golden triangle, near Bukit Bintang) with only technolgy, camera and IT shops 🙂

Tall buldings are all over the place in town and sometimes you feel so small compared to what’s around you – I got the same feeling when walking in the streets of downtown Manhattan during my trip to New York last year. So my first KL photo obsession was with capturing the view of these buildings from the street level looking up. Here are some of the shots I took into town.

The second photo obsession I got was Dataran Merdeka (Independence square) and the view from there – an important landmark in Malay history, independence was proclaimed here and the Malayan flag hoisted for the first time at midnight on August 31st, in 1957. When we got there in one of our sightseeing walks, there was such a great light and a nice view of the skyline that I spent a couple of hours trying different compositions.

My third and most time-consuming photo obsession was with the Petronas Twin Towers. Designed by architect Cesar Pelli, the towers incorporate modern looking visual elements as well as islamic symbols. For instance, the concept of the floor plan is based on an eight-point star made of two overlapping squares. In Islam this shape is referred to as Rub el Hizb. “Architecturally – I read from the official leaflet – these forms reflect important Islamic principles of ‘Unity within unity, harmony, stability and rationality'”. Eight semi-circles were added to the innner angles of the star points as more floor space was needed. In the final design the floor plan had 16 protrusions, the eight points of the star and the eight semi-circles.

Completed and opened to the public in 1998, the Petronas twin towers are today the most photographed and recognizable among KL’s landmarks. With their 452 metres of height they used to be the tallest building in the world, but in 2004 they were surpassed by the Taipei 101 tower (509 metres). In 2010 the Taipei 101 tower lost the title of tallest building to the 828-metres tall Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

The Petronas twin towers dominate KL’s skyline and they can be seen by almost anywhere in and around the city. To get a good close-up view it is possible to hang out at the park around the towers, or you can have a walk into the KLCC Suria shopping centre, which occupies the first floors of the towers and features a couple of non-expensive food courts.

It is also possible to access the two-story skybridge that connects the two towers (41st and 42nd floor, 170 metres above the street level) and the observation deck at the 86th floor. But to do that you have to buy the ticket early in the morning (there’s only a limited number of visitors allowed every day, and visitors are allowed in only for a limited amount of time).

We went to start the queue one morning at 7.30 and the space in front of the ticket counter was already packed full of people. The ticket counter opened at 8.30 and by the time we got to buy the ticket the only slot available to do both the skybridge and the observation deck was at 6pm. Not bad for us, as that’s the time of the day when there’s the best and most dramatic light if you want to take pictures 🙂

During our stay in KL we kept coming back to the towers from time to time so to have the opportunity to shoot the buildings under different types of light. The culmination of this photo fixation was when we actually got into the skybridge and the observation deck. I was right about the type of light that I would get at 6pm and the views were amazing.

Here are some of the pictures I took, including pictures of the view from the towers – I hope you enjoy them.

Click on the photos to enlarge them and see them at a slightly better quality