Blog : Kuala Lumpur

Bangkok Is Top Global Destination City, Continued Growth Forecast for 2017

Bangkok Is Top Global Destination City, Continued Growth Forecast for 2017

Bangkok was at the highest place on the chart of Top Ten Global Destination Cities attracting 19.41 million visitors in 2016, outranking London, Paris, Dubai, and Singapore. A Mastercard index released recently showed the Thai capital benefited the most from international travel, while further growth in visitor arrivals were in the forecast for 2017.

/// ASEAN ///

Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn), Bangkok / Photo: Tanakitt Khum-on

 

Visitor Volume

The Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index predicted that Bangkok’s visitor arrivals would increase by 4.0 percent in the 2017 calendar year, while Singapore was forecast to move up one notch growing by 2.6 percent and outranking New York (at minus 2.4 percent). Meantime, Kuala Lumpur was likely to post a strong 7.2 percent gain in visitor arrivals for 2017, enabling it to keep its eighth place on the chart.

Kuala Lumpur / Photo: Sitthisak Namkham

From 2009 to 2016, two ASEAN cities also saw strong growth in visitor arrivals, namely: Jakarta up 18.2 percent, and Hanoi up 16.4 percent. Of all 132 destinations across the globe, Osaka was at the top with a whopping 24.0 percent growth in overnight visitor arrivals during the 8-year period.

Overall, international visitors to leading global destination cities increased in the 2016 calendar year. As for 2017, Tokyo’s visitor numbers were forecast to increase by as much as 12.2 percent, making it the strongest growth in visitors among the top ten.

 

National Gallery Singapore / Photo: Sitthisak Namkham

 

Cross-border Spending

The Mastercard index was more than just a ranking of top destination cities across the globe. Apart from international visitor volume, it also looked into tourist spending that contributed to furthering economic growth of countries. For the 2016 calendar year, Dubai was at the top with overnight visitors spending $28.50 billion, followed by New York ($17.02 billion), London ($16.09 billion), Singapore ($15.69 billion), and Bangkok ($14.08 billion), all in USD. Destination cities benefited greatly from tourism. Shopping accounted for 22.9 percent of tourist spending, local service 21.5 percent, and food and beverages 20.6 percent).

Royal Palace, Bangkok / Photo: Aphirux Suksa

Reference:

https://newsroom.mastercard.com/digital-press-kits/mastercard-global-destination-cities-index-2017/

https://newsroom.mastercard.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Mastercard-Destination-Cities-Index-Report.pdf

 

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The Clever Home Office Restoration of Studio Bikin

The Clever Home Office Restoration of Studio Bikin

/ Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia /

/ Story: Supachart Boontang / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Rithirong Chanthongsuk /

Every teardown has an impact on the look and feel of the environment in which you live. If you find your suburban home outdated, perhaps this renovation of Studio Bikin’s home office is an inspiring way to breathe new life into it.

Studio Bikin

Studio Bikin

This two-story house is the home office of Farah Azizan, co-founder of Studio Bikin. It is located in Bangsar, a residential suburb on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.

“The house was built in 1950, almost seventy years ago. The structure is solid, and everything else is in good shape,” said Azizan.

“There is a simple, timeless elegance to it. So, I decided to do a complete renovation, combining a home and an office in one.”

Studio Bikin

 

Studio Bikin

MH12

Azizan tried to keep all existing elements and structural integrity intact, making the house capable of withstanding the desired loads for long life.

Metal grilles on the windows and doors and floor tiles were left the way they have always been. To create an airy interior living space, parts of the walls on the first floor were removed.

Meantime, glass louvers were retained to aid in heat dissipation, improve air circulation, and allow plenty of natural daylight.

 

The owner added the loft style to the design by putting in cracked concrete wall textures for a little bit of a grungy, urban feel. Special techniques helped make the ceilings and walls look interesting.

This was achieved by lining the mold with plastic wraps before concrete was poured. Wrinkles in plastic sheets left their marks on concrete surfaces resulting in aesthetically pleasing textures.

Tricky space staircase: The treads may differ in shapes and sizes from one step to the other, but the stairs are safe to use.
Tricky space staircase: The treads may differ in shape and size from one step to the other, but the stairs are safe to use.

Studio Bikin

Studio Bikin

The decorating style is anything but obvious. The interior space of Studio Bikin’s home office boasts a mix-and-match style that goes together well with a modern loft ambience.

This is evident in a set of a teakwood sofa and leather butterfly chairs, and shelving filled with glistening utensils silhouetted against a textured concrete wall.

 

The handsome abode has been home to more than one generation, yet there is a timeless elegance to it. The house of Studio Bikin has undergone complete renovation for comfortable living with modern amenities. Clever home improvement hacks have made it unique, trendy and cool in its own special way.

Studio Bikin

MH11

 


Owner/Designer: Farah Azizan of Studio Bikin (www.studiobikin.com)


 

S11 House: An Impressive Energy Efficient Home in KL

S11 House: An Impressive Energy Efficient Home in KL

/ Kuala Lumper, Malaysia /

/ Story: Ekkarach Laksanasamrit / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Rithirong Chanthongsuk, Soopakorn Srisakul /

Don’t judge a book by its cover. This modern Tropical home in Kuala Lumpur is more than meets the eye. Precisely, all passive design strategies imaginable are integrated in the house plan, clever hacks to save big time on utility costs. The house is nestled among the trees on a piece of land where an old family home had stood for 60 years. It’s gone now, demolished to make room for a new residence.

Kuala Lumpur
The lacy shades of overhanging trees improve air quality and keep the house cool during the daytime.

Some things are better left unchanged. The relaxed ambience of the land is maintained, thanks to the homeowner and the architect together sparing no effort to preserve all matured trees on the property.

To ensure nothing goes to waste, Tan Loke Mun of ArchiCenter, an architectural practice based in Selangor, managed to incorporate building materials from the old house in the project codenamed, “S11 House” in Kuala Lumpur. Its environmental conscious design has earned the house a platinum award from the Green Building Index (GBI), Malaysia’s industry recognized rating tool for building sustainability.

Kuala Lumpur
The design makes use of stronger frames and larger concrete beams to avoid having too many columns in the interior living space.
Kuala Lumpur
The ground floor boasts high standards of comfort – a light and airy interior living space. The absence of solid room dividers creates visual and spatial continuity between indoor and outdoor rooms.
Kuala Lumpur
A living room looks spacious and bright thanks to the 3-meter-high ceiling. Brick walls in subdued shades of orange paired with gray naked concrete make the home feel warm and welcoming.

There is attention to detail every step of the way. Among other things, pieces of concrete from the old house were recycled and adapted for a new use as walkway pavers along the exterior walls. Old bricks were also given a new lease on life, while steel window grids were reused for their strength and durability. At the same time, recycled timber also found a new purpose as scaffolding during construction due to limitations on steel rods.

Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur
Naked concrete finishes add natural touches to the interior, while passive cooling systems and intelligent use of materials go to work reducing energy consumption.

Built along the north-south axis, the house stands to allow fresh outdoor air to enter on one side and exit on the other. Hence, large windows and other wall openings are installed to create cross ventilation that reduces heat buildup in the interior. In the meantime, west-facing exterior walls are made of lightweight anti-heat-absorbing materials. All of this translates into big savings in utility costs and improvements in the efficiency of air conditioning systems.

What’s more. In the backyard garden, lush vines and other trailing woody-stemmed plants thrive on trellises. They work in tandem with five full-grown trees to provide buffers against the sun on hot summer days.

To create thermal comfort in the interior, extra thick insulation is applied under metal sheet roofing. Where appropriate, the windows are glazed using low-emissivity glass to protect from the sun’s harsh glare.

Kuala Lumpur
The first floor bedroom features simple design. The entire space is well-ventilated thanks to a high ceiling and large openings in the exterior wall.
Kuala Lumpur
Natural light illuminates the bathroom, creating beautiful visual effects and reducing electricity use.

To keep the heat out and the interior cool, the three-story home (including a basement) has an air duct system that lets hot air dissipate through rooftop vents. With this ingenious design, no air-conditioning machine is needed.

Kuala Lumpur
The second floor boasts a large living space with double height ceilings and transparent glass walls.

For the most part, building materials are used in their true forms. Painting and coating are minimized if ever needed. Otherwise, naked concrete, bare brick walls and timber in its neutral wood tones prevail. Where a layer of paint is needed, the designer chooses Low VOC paints (low volatile organic compounds) to minimize impacts on the environment.

In a nutshell, it’s a design that speaks volumes for architecture of the future – an environmentally conscious place of abode thoughtfully devised to perform in perfect harmony with nature.

The home’s double-swing gate is crafted of steel rods in a lighter shade of gray. Welded wire patterns ensure good visibility and uninterrupted air flow.

Architect: ArchiCentre by Tan Loke Mun


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Desa House: The Renovated Artist House in Kuala Lumpur

Desa House: The Renovated Artist House in Kuala Lumpur

/ Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia /

/ Story: Panchat Changchan / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Rithirong Chanthongsuk /

The place called “Desa House” belongs to 49-year-old artist Leon Leong. Located in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, the artist house clearly stands out from the rest in a neighborhood characterized by ubiquitous townhomes.

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Newly added is the sky garden that extends outward from the second-floor façade. 

The most eye-catching feature is the lush sky garden that extends outward from the second floor. The structure also doubles as a carport roof. Green foliage adorns the front façade and functions as a privacy curtain.

The striking features remind us that we have reached our destination.

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The sky garden platform, which doubles as a carport roof, is accessible from the second floor.

The bedroom and the studio are lit by natural light through a sliding glass that slides open to access the greenery. The same applies to the rear portion of the house, which opens to a backyard.

In the front and back, green foliage forms privacy curtains that effectively set the interior spaces apart from the hustle and bustle of city life.

artist house
Roof beams are clearly visible after ceilings are removed to make way for the new add-on.
artist house
There is no need for electric lights as the interior is sufficiently illuminated by natural energy via the second-floor skylight and the main entrance.
artist house
Lattice skylight crafted of concrete turns the second-floor living spaces into a well-lit place. /// Natural light illuminates the central court that the artist owner uses as his workstation.

The artist house’s aesthetic is achieved by putting in an add-on and other details to the existing structure.

Like other townhomes in the neighborhood, there is a central court that the occupants use for relaxation. But architect Wen Hsia of the WHBC Architects group has a better idea.

She transforms this centerpiece into something different. What used to be a seating area now becomes a lush landscape, where tall trees cast shadows on surrounding walls and much of the first floor.

It brings in the outdoor, and the atmosphere comes alive every time leaves blow in the wind. All day the light and sound show gives the artist homeowner the inspirations that he needs.

artist house
The interior spaces double as an art gallery, where Leon displays his beautiful works of art.
artist house
The artist’s favorite spot is the bookshelves composed of concrete and wood frames.
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The perfect match for timeworn kitchen countertops and minimal raw wood furniture.

Leon needs plenty of light to create works of art, and he gets it all in the home studio.

To bring in natural light, the architect has tiled roofing replaced by lattice skylight, creating beautiful special effects. Concrete lattice casts striking shadow patterns everywhere.

It is cheaper, longer lasting, and easier to maintain than that made of wood. As night falls, the studio is aglow by electric light.

Interestingly the studio light alone is enough to illuminate the entire home.

artist house
The artist’s workstation is nestled underneath the stairway and behind the bookshelves.
artist house
The living room shares space with the kitchen for added convenience.
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Tall trees provide a crisp, cool canopy to the backyard. Beach pebbles, concrete slabs, and a patch of manicured grass fill up the garden floor.

 


Owner: Leon Leong

Architect: WHBC Architects


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Airy Bamboo House with a Modern Flair in Malaysia

Airy Bamboo House with a Modern Flair in Malaysia

/ Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia /

/ Story: Ekkarach Laksanasamrich / English version: Peter Montalbano /

/ Photographs: Soopakorn Srisakul /

With bamboo as its main material, the architect has integrated the modern Tropical design into nature. This well-ventilated house in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is the brainchild of John G. N. Bulcock of Design Unit Architects Sdn. Bhd. Though the theme is modern Tropical, Bulcock preferred not to limit his idea only to the word. “Actually, I’m not interested in defining it. I’m more curious to look into the floor plan, the atmosphere, and the functions. And I like it the way it is,” said the architect.

Bamboo House in Malaysia
A concrete roof spanning 15 meters across provides protection for the sitting room, dining room, and bedrooms.

Fung Kai Jin, the owner of this bamboo house in Malaysia, gave Bulcock freedom to design. The only request was to feature bamboo in the work, although the material has some flaws of its own.

Bamboo House in Malaysia
[left] The swimming pool and terraces lie at the low end of sloping ground surrounded by full-grown trees. [right] The door is especially made to open wide from one end to the other. So, the view is not blocked.
“Bamboo is a gift from nature,” said Fung. “It is strong and durable to a certain extent. But it has some weaknesses. It doesn’t last as long as other kinds of wood, or steel and concrete masonry, and it requires more maintenance than other materials.

“But for those who have a penchant for bamboo, I think it’s worth the effort. After all, you get to spend time in the house that you love every day.”

Bamboo House in Malaysia
The sitting room has high ceilings. The upstairs TV room is protected from the sunlight by a bamboo lattice.
Bamboo House in Malaysia
Spaces between the walls promote good air circulation.

Bulcock then decided the house has to be an integrated one. “The main idea is to make the house an integral part of the nature,” he recalled. “Meaning, it has to blend well with the land features and trees around it. So the plan calls for plenty of open spaces and undisturbed materials, such as plain concrete finishes, glass, and bamboo.”

Bamboo House in Malaysia
Imitating nature with a rain garden, the architects put in a nice little green al fresco oasis on the second floor.
Bamboo House in Malaysia
A semi-outdoor area stays cool and comfortable all day, thanks to leafy plants and underground vapors.

The three-story house was set on a slope. So, Bullock placed a carport and a main entrance on the second floor for practical use. The floor consists of a dining room, kitchen, TV room and a wide balcony overlooking a swimming pool. The lower floor includes a home office, living room, storage room and a maid’s quarter. The private area is reserved on the third floor.

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The bedroom is adorned with simple decoration. Plain concrete walls and white ceilings spice up the atmosphere. The floorboard is made of hardwood for durability and a stress-free environment.

The house is kept small and uncluttered by dividing into rooms connecting through a roofed hallway that spans over 15 meters across the area. A small interval between the roof and the building is allowed for the rain and the sun shining in.

There are also gaps between the main roof and nearby rooms to promote good ventilation. Fresh air circulates throughout the day through passageways and gaps in the bamboo lattice. Courtesy of the Tropical weather, there is no need for an air-conditioning machine for this bamboo house in Malaysia.

Bamboo House in Malaysia
The architects install bamboo lattice in the interiors as well to create visual continuity.
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Fixed windows at the top edge of dining room walls allow light to shine through, while effectively keeping the heat out.

“As it rains, a fine spray of water descends upon bamboo lattice. When the owner chose this kind of material, he accepted that wet weather is normal,” Bulcock said

“Call it living close to nature. We need to plan which part can be exposed to the rain and vice versa to avoid damage to the structure over time.”

Bamboo House in Malaysia
Large windows in the son’s bedroom make the interior very light and airy. The swimming pool below can be seen in full view from here.

All things considered, this bamboo house in Malaysia is a good example of what living close to nature should look like.

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For maximum exposure to the natural surroundings, stair railings are crafted of glass panels.

Owner: Fung Kai Jin

Architect: John G. N. Bulcock of Design Unit Architects Sdn. Bhd.


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Sekeping Tenggiri: A Concrete House and Nature Blend Together Beautifully

Sekeping Tenggiri: A Concrete House and Nature Blend Together Beautifully

/ Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia /

/ Story: Ekkarach Laksanasamrith / English version: Peter Montalbano /

/ Photographs: Soopakorn Srisakul /

There are ways to bring the outdoors in and enjoy the benefits of nature without ever leaving your home. Likewise, a concrete house in Malaysia named Sekeping Tenggiri has embarked on the journey to establish a sanctuary for the mind.

Sekeping Tenggiri
The building has been lovingly restored using steel structures. Leveraging steel technologies offers a fast and convenient alternative in construction.

Located in Jalan Tenggiri, a district of Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur, the house graces a modest plot of land. Nonetheless, the homeowner adeptly integrates a plethora of natural features into the design for a look that blends seamlessly with the environment.

Plants and natural light work harmoniously to soften the stark surfaces of building materials, creating a warm and well-lit ambiance.

The house belongs to Ng Sek San, who is the founder of Seksan Design, a landscaping and architecture firm in Kuala Lumpur. He told us that the house was a renovation of two adjacent homes skillfully transformed with a clean sweep.

Ng is also an art collector, which is evident in one side of the house dedicated to an enviable art collection that’s open to the public with no admission charge.

Sekeping Tenggiri
For visual continuity, the architect makes use of the same building materials on both the exteriors and interiors.

The two-story home boasts a comprehensive range of functional spaces, including an ample sitting room, dining room and kitchen, complemented by a refreshing swimming pool and seven bedrooms.

An experienced landscape architect, Ng started out with a modest garden while working on this house. Over time, he progressed to larger projects, smoothly integrating exterior and interior spaces so that they become a whole. To him, a garden is a room, and his exterior design spaces resemble extensions of the interiors.

Sekeping Tenggiri
The ground floor showcases a dining room seamlessly connecting to the swimming pool and the garden at the far end. The canopy of tall trees ensures a constant flow of cool breezes throughout the day.
Sekeping Tenggiri
Both the floorboards and concrete roofs maintain a thickness of 10 centimeters in general. Where appropriate, they are reduced to 7 centimeters. Meanwhile, strategic gaps ranging from 5 to 10 centimeters exist between the ceiling and the top edge of the wall to facilitate effective ventilation.

An exemplary illustration of Modern Tropical style, Sekeping Tenggiri is designed to mitigate heat and prevent moisture-related issues. Long overhangs and awnings provide protection against scorching sunlight, while exposed roof sections and plain floors contribute to a clean and simple aesthetic.

Materials such as concrete masonry, bricks, wood, and steel were utilized, with the main structure being steel-reinforced concrete. The thoughtful incorporation of nature into the living space is evident in details like raising the floorboards 40 centimeters from the concrete floors, promoting air circulation that naturally cools the upstairs bedrooms.

Opaque walls are replaced by glass louvre windows that usher in light, creating airy interiors. Transparent materials in parts of the roof facilitate ample sunlight, particularly over the swimming pool.

Sekeping Tenggiri
The master bedroom on the second floor exudes simplicity and raw elegance. Exposed brick walls, unrefined concrete floors, and expansive windows spanning from one corner to the other seamlessly integrate with the natural surroundings, ensuring visual continuity.
Sekeping Tenggiri
Who says the space underneath the window must be an opaque wall? That’s not the case here. Louvre windows are utilized to improve air circulation.
Sekeping Tenggiri
A raised floorboard accommodates new plumbing in the bathroom. The dry section showcases a diverse range of materials, while the wet section opts for easy-care products like tiles—a smart choice for practicality.

As has been demonstrated, Sekeping Tenggiri features numerous passageways that facilitate air movement. They include the spaces between wooden floorboards and along the corridors, plus openings in exterior walls. These design elements not only enhance ventilation, but also contribute to the house’s uncluttered and incredibly relaxed appearance.

Sekeping Tenggiri
[Left] Skylights above the bathroom foster the flourishing of indoor plants. / [Right] The integration of the house with the surrounding vegetation creates a harmonious blend. Undoubtedly, the use of natural building materials contributes to comfortable living conditions.

Architect: Ng Sek San of Seksan Design Landscape Architecture and Planning


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Sekeping Sin Chew Kee: A Raw Chic Hotel in Kuala Lumpur

Sekeping Sin Chew Kee: A Raw Chic Hotel in Kuala Lumpur

/ Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia /

/ Story: Ekkarach Laksanasamlich / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Rithirong Chanthongsuk, Soopakorn Srisakul /

Crafted in a plain and simple fashion, the Sekeping Sin Chew Kee is a raw beauty and a way of life in Kuala Lumpur. The rustic chic hotel is part of the Sekeping chain, which is owned by Ng Sek San, of Seksan Design Landscape Architecture and Planning. See beauty in simplicity! Check this out.

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The hotel is located within a converted “shophouse,” the terms for vernacular architecture commonly seen in KL. The well-kept, two-story reinforced concrete structure has a rooftop deck.

The owner/designer, Ng Sek San, took every precaution to avoid increasing building weights. The only add-on is a mezzanine on the second floor. Both the mezzanine and the upper floor are reserved for guest accommodations. The coffee shop sits on the ground floor.

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The shophouse-style building has access to the street in front and back. The front entrance features a small garden, enclosed for privacy by a wall of medium height.

Inside the hotel, a steel stairway gives access to a lounge with a warm, welcoming atmosphere on the second floor. A bit further inside lies a kitchenette with a bathroom and two guest rooms.

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There is another set of stairs that connects the second-floor lounge to the mezzanine and on to rooftop deck. The newly added mezzanine was once an open space. Later, a wood plank ceiling was put in to give the area an elegant touch and turn it into a usable room.

Elsewhere, custom plasterworks and exposed brick walls in a circular shape contrast with real wood flooring in shades of white. The newly painted surfaces and simple décor make for easy maintenance and an atmosphere that is environmentally friendly.

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The choice of contemporary furniture and ornamentation conveys a refreshing change. There is a curious mixture of the traditional and the modern.

Steel-frame beds and sofas, comfortable mattresses and cushions blend well with old-fashioned items, ranging from water kettles to wire mesh lounge chairs to antique-style cups and tableware.

The most memorable sight is the simple white mosquito nets that unfurl at bedtime.

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In remodeling an old building, it’s important to consider structural integrity, which refers to the building’s ability to hold together under a load without breaking or deforming.

As the designer puts it, renovation work differs greatly from building anything from scratch. It goes through various processes of evaluation, demolition, and pounding to make room for new ideas to take shape.

“Our experience here has meant the opportunity to try out new architectural features and interior decorating techniques in order to give the hotel a raw beauty, one that’s rich in rustic appeal.”, explained Mr Ng.

“The design of Sekeping Sin Chew Kee is about creating an intentional lack of orderliness and opposites to the ordinary. This is manifested in industrial-style electrical conduits throughout the building.

“Instead of concealing them behind walls, the conduits, mountings, and hanging lights are installed in ways that are clearly visible and easy to maintain.”

His well-thought-out design results in a chic interior that focuses on truth to materials and a style that reflects well on this part of town.

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Owner/Architect: Ng Sek San of Seksan Design Landscape Architecture and Planning


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