Architect & Co-founder, MentahMatter; Rex KL
One of the young Malaysian architects who is behind the transformation and re-purposing of old heritage buildings, Shin Chang has in the process made a name for himself in the F&B industry
Shin Chang is an architect best known for his work in adaptive re-use, most prominently the re-purposing of the iconic Rex Cinema into a unique arts-and-culture hub re-named REXKL. Chang, who was inspired by his contractor father to become an architect, graduated with degrees in Architecture and Planning & Design from the University of Melbourne, Australia. After working on several residential and large-scale landscape projects while attached to a couple of leading architectural and design firms in Kuala Lumpur, he left to set up his own multi-disciplinary design firm MentahMatter.
Before partnering with fellow architect Shin Tseng to transform the old Rex cinema into a multi-purpose venue for events, exhibitions, performances or screenings—plus a retail and F&B space—Chang was already making a name for himself for re-inventing old buildings. Unique F&B venues including his own ChoCha Foodstore sprang up on a century-old shop lot that now houses a restaurant and bar, as well as Joloko, a commercial premises from the 1950s transformed into a Afro-Caribbean-style restaurant.
In 2017, Chang took on his biggest project yet, the revival and operations of the twice burnt-down trading centre which later became a cinema, REX, and a backpacker hostel. Giving it a new lease of life by maintaining the structure but doing a major clean-up and a number of upgrades, the co-founders of REXKL converted the abandoned building into a thriving destination for food, retail and events.
The duo of Chang and Tseng aren’t done yet with breathing new life into old spaces, with plans to continue re-juvenating Petaling Street, Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown.
Did You Know?
Chang is not new to the F&B industry. When he was young, his father started a kopitiam and he used to help out.