KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 6 ― Ever wished you could climb to greater heights to have a full bird's eye view of the national capital Kuala Lumpur? Higher than the Kuala Lumpur Tower, higher than the Petronas Twin Towers? Well, you will be able to in the future, when the new 118-storey tower Merdeka 118 is completed, and when its observation deck ― touted as the highest in South-east Asia ― is ready to welcome visitors.
Standing 678.9 metres high, the tower will be the world's second tallest and the tallest in Southeast Asia.
Located in a heritage-rich spot of downtown Kuala Lumpur, Merdeka 118's neighbours include the 129-year-old school Victoria Institution as well as Chin Woo Stadium where the city’s first Olympic-sized swimming pool was built.
In other words, Merdeka 118 is the perfect spot to look at where many things began for Kuala Lumpur and even Malaysia.
During a recent work-in-progress tour of Merdeka 118, journalists were shown “The View at 118”, which is the name of the observation deck occupying Levels 115, 116 and the mezzanine floor at 116 (otherwise known as 116 X).
Here’s what the experience felt like. First, you will whoosh up in a high-speed lift to Level 115 in about a minute.
A view of iconic locations in Kuala Lumpur, including Masjid Negara, Dataran Merdeka and Parliament. ― Picture by Ida Lim
Next, you go up the escalator to Level 116, where you can have a 360-degree view of the city through glass walls covering the entire level. The best part will be the two balconies on both sides of the level.
After stepping out to the balcony and once you conquer the fear of looking down, you are rewarded with the sight of Stadium Merdeka and Stadium Negara, two gazetted national heritage sites.
These two stadiums are part of the Merdeka 118 development itself, occupying half of the 40 acres of land owned by project developer PNB Merdeka Ventures Sdn Bhd. These stadiums were not torn down but are instead being conserved by the developer.
Stadium Merdeka is where the independence of then-Malaya was declared in 1957 and where Malaysia's formation was proclaimed in 1963.
At the other balcony, you can see a glimpse of the historic Dataran Merdeka, and further up the police headquarters at Bukit Aman, and also the iconic Parliament building where the nation's laws are made, and further up you can see the national palace, Istana Negara.
From this same balcony, you can also see Masjid Negara with its blue umbrella-like dome, and also the Dayabumi complex where Pos Malaysia's headquarters is located.
Tengku Datuk Ab. Aziz Tengku Mahmud, CEO of the tower's developer PNB Merdeka Ventures, said the projections for the number of visitors to the observation deck would be 3,000 persons per day.
If you go up further to Level 116 X or the mezzanine floor in between 116 and 117, you can also walk on glass floors where you can look down directly on the cityscape, Tengku Ab Aziz said.
At Level 116 X, there will also be an “edge walk” where visitors can put on a safety harness and walk from end to end on glass floors outside the tower, with Tengku Ab Aziz saying that this is “meant for thrill seekers”.
To complete the whole experience, Tengku Ab Aziz says that visitors will not exit the Merdeka 118 building when they are done with their tour of the observation deck.
Instead, they will take the lift and come out at the third floor of the upcoming new mall at the base of the Merdeka 118 tower.
At this seven-storey shopping mall known as “118 Mall” featuring 300 stores, the third floor will be a showcase of made-in-Malaysia products, Tengku Ab Aziz said.
A view of the observation deck at Level 116 of the world's second tallest tower Merdeka 118. ― Picture by PNB Merdeka Ventures Sdn Bhd
Can't wait to go? While the tower is set to be the next tourist hotspot in Kuala Lumpur, the Merdeka 118 tower is now 92 per cent complete as of July 2022, and its observation deck is only expected to be ready for visitors by the end of next year.
Apart from “The View at 118” observation deck at Level 115 to the mezzanine floor of Level 116, the Merdeka 118 tower is also capped by a 40-storey spire.
This shape is said to be inspired by the silhouette of Malaysia's first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman's raised hand when declaring “Merdeka” or independence.
In the future, the public will be able to climb up the stairs to level 16 within this spire, which would mark the point of 566 metres. At this height, it is the highest platform in the world, Tengku Ab Aziz said.