Gurney Wharf is a proposed seafront public park to be created by reclaiming land off Gurney Drive, George Town. The project is an initiative by the current Penang state government to revive the famous Gurney waterfront by creating "a new iconic waterfront destination for Penang and for the benefit of the people of Penang".
The proposed Gurney Wharf consists of four distinct areas, with the public park expected to be completed by 2018. This is to be followed by the creation of the Seaside Retail Food and Beverage (F&B) Precint, which is expected to be ready by 2020.
Land reclamation off the shores of Gurney Drive will commence in March 2016, to be carried out by Tanjung Pinang Development Sdn. Bhd., a subsidiary of the Penangite developer firm, Eastern & Oriental Berhad. Nearly 60 acres of land will be reclaimed by the firm, who will then hand over the reclaimed land to the Penang state government for free.
To obtain public support for the masterplan, the Penang state government held open exhibitions titled 'My Gurney Wharf' in February 2016.
The land reclamation off Gurney Drive was actually part of the larger land reclamation project off the neighbouring suburb of Tanjung Tokong, known as the Seri Tanjung Pinang 2 (STP2) project. Initially, the STP2, which is undertaken by Tanjung Pinang Development Sdn. Bhd., had received much criticism over its environmental impact.
The Penang state government then proposed a public recreational area to be created on land reclaimed by the firm off Gurney Drive. Accordingly, the parent firm, Eastern & Oriental Berhad, will surrender nearly 60 acres of the reclaimed land to the Penang state government free of charge and bear the reclamation costs, while the Penang state government will pay for the subsequent landscaping costs.
In addition, Eastern & Oriental Berhad also took the initiative to engage the services of three award-winning international consultants at its own expense.
In February 2016, the Penang state government held public exhibitions titled 'My Gurney Wharf' in KOMTAR and Gurney Plaza to gain public feedback for the project. It was during the first days of the exhibition in KOMTAR when the Gurney Wharf masterplan was announced by the Penang state government. According to the Chief Minister of Penang, Lim Guan Eng,
"Acknowledging the importance of Gurney Drive and the emotional attachment it brings forth in the hearts and minds of Penangites, the State is proud to propose a masterplan concept to create a new iconic waterfront destination for Penang, for the benefit of the people of Penang, and one that Penangites would be proud to call their own... drawing inspiration from some of the world’s best public spaces we aspire to create a spacious, multi-functional public park-in-the-city that is international in standard yet one hundred per cent Penang in spirit."It was reported that about 90% of respondents, which consisted of Penangites and foreigners, were supportive of the project.
Credentials of the Consultants
- GDP Architects Sdn. Bhd.
- The Malaysian architecture firm was awarded the Aga Khan Award for Architecture (2005-2007) for their work on Universiti Teknologi Petronas. The firm was consulted for the overall masterplan.
- Grant Associates
- The U.K.- and Singapore-based architecture firm was responsible for the creation of Singapore's Gardens by the Bay. The firm was consulted for the planned landscaping of Gurney Wharf.
- Jerde Partnership
- The American architecture and urban planning firm was involved in numerous major urban projects, including the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and the Roppongi Hills, Tokyo. The firm was consulted for the design of the Seaside Retail F&B Precint.
Areas of Gurney Wharf
Gurney Wharf is divided into four distinct sections. The areas, from west to east, are as follows.
Seaside Retail F&B Precint
The precint combines various elements of Penang's lively Gurney seafront, such as seaside dining facilities, including a proposed relocation of the Gurney Drive Hawker Centre to a site opposite Gurney Paragon, a waterfront promenade and a pier walk.
This is the westernmost area and will stretch approximately from in front of the Gurney roundabout to the land in front of Jalan Pemenang, east of Gurney Paragon.
This area will be defined by lush gardens, ponds and wetlands, with its most distinctive feature being landscaped water gardens with innovative storm-water filtration systems. Inspired by the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore, this will be the very first of its kind in Malaysia.
The water gardens area will cover the stretch of reclaimed land in front of Jalan Pemenang and Concordia Road.
This area includes a 400-metre man-made beach, as well as a seaside promenade. A low-rise F&B platform with a rooftop viewing deck will also be constructed just behind the beach.
The beach area will cover the reclaimed land from Concordia Road towards the east of Burmah Lane.
The easternmost area will contain a skate park specifically for teens and covers the existing stretch of casuarina trees lining the eastern portion of Gurney Drive. According to Padang Kota State Assemblyman Chow Kon Yeow, "the existing casuarinas are a signature of Gurney Drive and will be mindfully preserved”.
To improve accessibility to Gurney Wharf, the masterplan incorporates two pedestrian retail underpasses with direct access from the neighbouring suburb of Pulau Tikus, underpass lifts and escalators, cycling paths, wheelchair ramps, and the upcoming Gurney Expressway. Furthermore, 1,500 parking lots will be prepared above and below ground level.
Land reclamation is to be undertaken by Tanjung Pinang Development Sdn. Bhd. beginning March 2016. Anti-climb fences made of mesh material have been installed along Gurney Drive as of March 2016. The fencing comes with planter boxes to create an aesthetically comfortable public place, while the mesh material allows for the flow of sea breeze into Gurney Drive. The public will still be able to access the Gurney Drive promenade, as the fencing is secured on the far side of the existing seawall.