Nirvana Memorial Park (Ipoh) Series 3

The Beauty of Legacy

A masterpiece revival of the prosperous Tang dynasty era

Tang Villa is the epitome expression of world-class architecture.

The elite architects behind this masterpiece located at Nirvana Memorial Park (Ipoh), are the renowned duo of the architectural domain, Chew Swe Wing and Chew Li Wei.

Taking part in Italy’s A’Design Award for the first time this year, they were awarded the silver medal for their distinctive style – the first construction firm from Malaysia to win the award for “Neo-Oriental”.  architectural design. Today, they use modern design ideas, beautiful concepts inspired by ancient architecture, fine craftsmanship and sophisticated techniques to recreate a new interpretation of the Tang dynasty. Chew Swe Wing’s eternal pursuit of Tang era ancient architecture most notably – combined with Chew Li Wei’s ability in utilizing the Neo-Oriental style – fully display the splendour and glory of the Tang dynasty.

A uniquely designed memorial park with the best of ancient architecture

“Young people – with due care and courage – can certainly surpass themselves and overcome challenges,” the elder Chew said to his son sitting next to him. The younger man smiled but seemed to agree with his father.

A veteran in the construction industry, Chew Swe Wing’s 31 years’ worth of life experiences are summed up by his heart and soul, “I’ve no formal education in architecture and I was practically uneducated, but I have the interest. The basic way to learn was to do it myself.”

Thus, he came up with a study plan in addition to joining ancient architecture societies both large and small. He relied on himself to constantly explore and understand by traveling and studying the history of ancient structures on site before linking and integrating what he had learnt into his own architectural features.

Chew Li Wei nodded in agreement and conveyed his own thoughts, “From a young age, I grew up observing different architectural features together next to my father and was impressed by what I saw; slowly, I fell in love with ancient architecture. However, I also found that it was not easy to construct ancient buildings and that it was necessary to have a deep understanding of Chinese culture and to constantly innovate and transform. We were the first to bring the concept of ancient architecture into a memorial park.”

From designing homes and original ancient architectural concepts, to later committing to a memorial park, both father and son were on the same page. The senior Chew recalled an occasion when he went on a field trip to a cemetery abroad to discover its beautiful surroundings. It inspired him to bring elements of ancient architecture into the landscape of a memorial park with the hopes of dispelling the general dark perception of memorial parks with a new concept.

“Our intention is to carry forward China’s long-standing culture and add original architecture with its own unique characteristics to a memorial park, infusing it with life and grandeur. It is our hope that the architectural legacy of China which has been handed down for generations in the past millennia can be preserved and not lost to changing times.”


Continuing a legacy and the journey to a fulfilling life

When speaking about it, Chew Swe Wing is very much in favour of Nirvana Asia Group’s business philosophy of “putting filial piety and people first”.

“Our committal to using ancient architectural designs in memorial parks is actually consistent with Nirvana Asia’s philosophy of managing a life business,” he explains, “Each time we complete a memorial park project, my team and I will be filled with a sense of achievement because it will become a place for future generations to reflect on and preserve their feelings and memories of departed loved ones; every life is fulfilled and every regret is buried. The ancient architecture of Nirvana Memorial Park, aside from embodying the essence of “filial piety and beauty,” also enables future descendants to remember their ancestors together in a comfortable environment. It would be like as if the ancestors had never left, but transcended to another place where the love and harmony continue to endure.”

The younger Chew said his father’s values of perseverance and hard work was handed down to his generation. In addition to inheriting his mission, he is more focused on innovation.

“If I don’t inherit it, it will be lost over time,” he elaborates, “After all, it is our unique Chinese culture and we must protect it. Aside from that, I also want to develop my expertise and incorporate elements favoured by young, modern people into ancient architecture, which is what we term as neo-Oriental style.”

The essence of Tang Villa in bringing forth a glorious era

As the design directors of Nirvana Memorial Park (Ipoh)’s Tang Villa, the dedication of the father and son team to the project is not only seen as a responsibility, but also a testimony to the glory of Nirvana Asia Group. Chew Li Wei admitted when he took over designing duties for the current project, his mind returned to the Tang Villa of Nirvana Memorial Park (Shah Alam), Selangor which was completed in 2008 and signified the beginning of a glorious era for Nirvana Asia Group.

“Because of this notion, we might as well bring the Tang dynasty concept to Ipoh and incorporate modern elements to create another glorious Tang era in Perak, where everyone can witness what is the most beautiful, prominent and distinctive Neo-Oriental columbarium in the state.”

The unique Tang Villa – the most beautiful landmark in Perak

The senior Chew beamed with pride upon hearing his son’s vision.

“Tang dynasty style architecture relatively rare in Ipoh. Ipoh’s Tang Villa is even more unique as it is mainly designed in relation to the landscape, ground elevation and different geological formations. Without a doubt, Tang Villa’s sense of hierarchy will be highlighted and it will be wonderful and glorious upon completion. We paid particular attention to the elements and colours in our concept, most notably with the Golden Temple. The overall structure is golden as there are not many golden temples in the world; the only ones are found at Mount Emei and Mount Wutai. Thus, by building a unique Golden Temple at Tang Villa, it will be a new dedicated landmark in Ipoh.”

He believes that gold represents the Tang people (the Chinese)’s desire to pursue auspicious and magnificent forms, while also implying something precious. Within the Golden Temple stands the statue of a Thousand-armed Avalokitesvara – a truly priceless treasure.

“The Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara is revered in religion among the most faithful Chinese,” he elaborates, “The white Thousand-armed Avalokitesvara in the Golden Temple will evoke a sense of sacredness and solemnity – each arm of the statue symbolizing the Bodhisattva’s resolve to end all suffering.”

Architectural legacy and innovation in achieving extraordinary artistry

The father and son team, Chew Swe Wing and Chew Li Wei complemented each other well in terms of making up for what the other lacked and needed. They not only make good partners in their line of work, but also in nurturing each other’s strengths.

“Times have changed,” the older man smiled, “New designs and new building materials are geared towards the younger market and we have to work with each other.”

Chew Li Wei appeared respectful and reserved in response to his father’s comments.

“When I was a child, I observed my father drawing by hand,” he said, “That meticulous attitude became the basis in how I handled things later in life. The difference is that in this era of advanced technology, computer graphics are indeed much more convenient and accurate than hand drawn graphics – greatly improving the efficiency during modifications.”

While the methods may differ, the younger Chew still respected his father’s views.

“In terms of experience, he is definitely richer than me. There used to be arguments about differing ideas; but the longer I followed him, the more respect I had for his views. We communicated with each other, shared our views and most importantly, we did things better.”

Chew wants to learn more from his father.

“Now that I fully understand my father’s devotion to the roots of Chinese culture, it is even more important for me to pass it on. In the clash of tradition and modernity, I hope I can continuously challenge myself to do better.

Chew Swe Wing has hopes for his son; in that the student may one day surpass the master.

“I can’t erase his design ideas, but I hope whatever he does, he won’t give up; without fear of failure, be bold and have courage in the face of challenges,” he said with encouragement as he patted his son’s shoulder, “The next 31 years will be Li Wei’s responsibility.”

With a full heart, Chew Li Wei tacitly stated that this is what his father expects of him, and it is a kind of affirmation. Between father and son, there is plenty of time still for one generation to pass on a legacy to the next.