Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Plans for new Gurney Wharf public space unveiled

Penangites to gain iconic public park-in-the-city with greater access to island’s waterfront

Penang, 23 February 2016 - Penangites were today given a preview of the new seafront public park planned for the Gurney Drive foreshore. Spanning close to 60 acres, this water-fronting public recreation area called Gurney Wharf is a Penang State Government initiative.
Gurney Wharf will be created on land to be reclaimed by Tanjung Pinang Development Sdn Bhd (TPD), a subsidiary of premier lifestyle property developer Eastern & Oriental Berhad (E&O).
The proposed concept masterplan for Gurney Wharf was articulated through a series of curated images, photographs and illustrations displayed at a public exhiition themed “My Gurney Wharf” at a popular retail mall here.
In conjunction with the exhibition, a press conference led by Penang Chief Minister Y.A.B. Lim Guan Eng together with Penang State Executive Councillor and Local Government, Traffic Management and Environment Committee Chairman YB Chow Kon Yeow was held on the same day. Also present at the press conference were State Assemblywoman for Pulau Tikus, YB Yap Soo Huey, and Member of Parliament for Bukit Bendera, YB Zairil Khir Johari.
“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,” said Lim.
Lim commended E&O for the Group’s initiative in engaging award-winning international consultants at its own cost to prepare the proposed masterplan concept. The consultants---GDP Architects for the overall masterplan, Grant Associates for landscaping and Jerde for retail F&B---are highly acclaimed with an impressive portfolio that includes the Aga Khan-award winning Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (GDP), Gardens by the Bay in Singapore (Grant) and Roppongi Hills, Japan (Jerde).
“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.”
Chow added that, “In creating this exemplar public park, we are adopting a people-centric approach to ensure that the outcome is more than just a well-designed physical space. It will be where Penangites can fully enjoy the island’s sea frontage, where communities gather for wholesome outdoor activities and most importantly, where pride of place and a sense of belonging is fostered.
The proposed Gurney Wharf concept masterplan encompasses four distinct character areas: Seaside Retail F&B, Water Gardens, Beach and Coastal Grove.
The Seaside Retail F&B celebrates Penang’s vibrant seafront brought to life by elements such as a waterfronting public promenade, seafront dining facilities including the island’s famed hawker fare and a pier walk.
The Water Gardens 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. Modelled after Singapore’s success with this at Gardens on the Bay, this is a pioneering system in Malaysia which is aesthetically outstanding as it is functional.
Chow said with the Beach area, Penangites would gain greater access to the waterfront area that includes a public beach as well as a public promenade. “Penangites will have access to nearly 400 meters of specially-created sandy beach which is literally, a stroll through the park,” he said.
Within the Coastal Grove, Chow said there would be a skate park for teens and youth, not far from the casuarinas lining the present Gurney Drive. Chow added, “The existing casuarinas are a signature of Gurney Drive and will be mindfully preserved.”
Lim rounded up by saying “In enabling easy access to the waterfront for everybody, the proposed concept masterplan incorporates two pedestrian retail underpasses with direct access from Pulau Tikus. Conveniences such as underpass lifts and escalators, separate pedestrian walkways and cycling paths as well as ramps for wheelchairs and strollers have also be included in the design. There will also be close to 1500 car park bays above and below ground level.
In compliance with regulatory requirements to ensure public safety, fencing would have to be built along the perimeter of the development site prior to commencement of works. Fencing works is anticipated to start in end-February.”
Chow concluded by saying “The anti-climb fencing made of mesh material will be installed along the stretch of the existing Gurney Drive from the Jalan Pangkor end right up to the Gurney Drive roundabout. As the fencing will be secured on the far side of the existing seawall, the public will have continued access to the Gurney Drive promenade for their daily activities.
As an added measure, the fencing would be installed with planter boxes to create an aesthetically comfortable public place while the mesh material ensures unhindered flow of sea breeze into Gurney Drive. “

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