Thursday, May 13, 2010
02 Kuching Waterfront, Malaysia by Connybeare Morrison
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.