Thursday, May 13, 2010

02 Kuching Waterfront, Malaysia by Connybeare Morrison

Mapping exercise for Asian Architecture and Urbanism.

Kuching Waterfront was built on the very riverbank where the city itself was born. It was a place where the institutional buildings from the Brooke era was built. Along the river, we can the well-preserved Court House, Fort Margherita, Square Tower and a few other historic buildings. It was also a busy maritime port in Sarawak where trading would take place. That was probably the reason for the establishment of Indian and Chinese shophouses along the riverbank.

There was also a dynamic between the contested edge; where water meets land. With a tidal difference of 5-6 metres, Kuching Waterfront is an area that is prone to flood. The local used to complained it being a mudflat.

Therefore, this project sets for itself a clear criteria for the designers. There is a tension between dealing with the flood events and preserving the rich history and intellectual memory of the city.

Basically, the design decisions was to reclaim a strip of land along the riverbank to have a firmer ground, opening up corridor views towards the river from the city. A promenade was designed along the strip, with the a few preserved historical buildings running along ie. the Square Tower, the Sarawak Steamship Company (now used as Bazaar for souvenirs and food outlets), an unknown colonial structure (now used as a performance stage), Chinese Pavilion and the Chinese Museum. The pavements along the waterfront uses the floral motif common among the indigenous, the Iban people.

Square Tower

Pavement along Waterfront

Nowadays, the Waterfront is no longer the maritime port as it used to be but it has definitely been remotivated to become a central part of the Kuching City. There were always events being held in the public square where the Square Tower sits. One of the most common one is the annual regatta; an boat race event. Participants would use long boats, that are still being used to get into the deeper areas in Sarawak. It was also said that the long boats are used in the memory of the Dayak war boat.

Sarawak Regatta

Kuching Waterfront might be a little bit figurative in terms of its design, however in terms of its function, it was quite successfull. It was a good dumbbell design that enhance the riverbank as a vibrant place in the city.


nadia al-akmal said...

This post reminds me of my Kerja Kursus Sejarah back in Form 4. I did something on Kuching.

p/s: I've linked your blog on mine.

Ar-Afiq said...

Tq for linking.
I've subscribed yours in my Google Reader.
Keep updating entries, they're all good.