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RETROSPECTIVE: KUCHING WATERFRONT

By 22 August, 2019 August 26th, 2019 No Comments

In September 1993 Kuching Waterfront was opened by the Chief Minister of Sarawak Datuk Abdul Taib Mahmud to the acclaim of the local population who had not only rediscovered their waterfront on the river, Sungai Sarawak, but had been given an exciting range of recreation facilities to celebrate 30 years of Malaysian Independence.

“You have brought to us a wonderful gift” – Datuk Mohd Effendi Norwawi, SEDC Chairman at the project’s opening.

Director Bill Morrison reflects on the project, 26 years on.

The city of Kuching, 10 miles inland from the west coast of Borneo, is a busy port town with a history going back to the Brooke era, the British ‘White Rajahs’ and beyond, to the many tribal and immigrant groups who today make up the local community. Remnants of the port, wharves, warehouses (go-downs), carparks and mudflats had formed a visual barrier between the town and river. Our remit was to rediscover it and reconnect Kuching to its waterfront.

Today the town still celebrates its association with the river; with a 1.5 kilometre promenade, parks, playgrounds, grand water steps, entertainment centres, food stalls, museum, many public artworks and a tourist centre.

The waterfront is a continuous ribbon of joy to the town, both day and night. This award winning project became a flagship for towns and cities throughout Southeast Asia as a model for recreating a waterfront for the people.

We developed a contemporary design for the waterfront using traditional materials, referencing patterns from many of the local cultures that emerged from a study of local arts and crafts, which have a strong and enduring heritage. After a quarter of a century the quality of the design and materials reflects a powerful image of a progressive Asian people.

After a quarter of a century the quality of the design and materials reflects a powerful image of a progressive people.

As a founding Director of CM+, Bill offers many years of experience in the fields of architecture, urban design and masterplanning, including waterfront renewals, town centres, infrastructure, and major site redevelopments.

Thanks to Craig Czarny for the Kuching photography.