KUCHING: With its striking diamond-patterned facade, arched canopies and golden roof, the new Sarawak Museum is Kuching’s latest architectural landmark.
Located next to Padang Merdeka in the city centre, its design is inspired by traditional Sarawak craft motifs as well as the Sarawak Legislative Assembly complex across the river nearby.
Project architect Voon Choon Hin from Arkitek KDI Sdn Bhd said the museum’s external features resembled the state legislature building’s golden dome and tall arches.
“This was the direction we got from the state government when we started the design. The museum and state assembly building are located on the same axis, so from one building you can see the other one clearly. It’s like the two buildings are talking to each other, ” he said.
Voon also said that local motifs were introduced into the facade of the museum.
“The gold-coloured diamond-shaped cladding is inspired from a common motif we found in Sarawak songket, pua kumbu (Iban handwoven textile) and basketry work by Orang Ulu.
“The basic shape is a diamond. We arranged it in such a way that it formed the external facade using modern materials, ” he said.
Inside the museum, Penan rattan weaving is incorporated into the reception counters and Iban bemban weaving in the auditorium.
The five-storey building, which was handed over to the state Museum Department in August, is expected to be opened to the public next year when permanent displays are set up.
Voon said the purpose-built museum has two main parts, the public exhibition area and a conservation and storage area.
He said the storage space was mainly in the basement while a comprehensive conservation area was housed on level one, complete with laboratories and a photography studio.
“Level one also has a lobby linking to several event spaces. We have an auditorium and a temporary gallery for the museum to change its exhibitions every now and then, so we expect more crowds on this level. There is also a cafe, so this floor will be more active.
“Starting from level two we have the main atrium. This is where the museum atmosphere comes in. We have galleries on both sides, as the building has two wings, and visitor circulation platforms with escalators linking the floors, ” he said.