The Ark Café and Gallery







Project Type


“This is a charming piece of architecture that befits its context at the waterfront. It is a commendable effort to place a well-articulated and yet unintrusive landmark at the riverine esplanade.”

– PAM Awards 2009 jury citation, Gold in Commercial Buildings

The Ark Café and Gallery was conceived as part tree house, part café, viewing platform, and urban landmark in Sibu, a riverine town in Sarawak with its roots in the timber industry. The catalyst for this project grew from one 60-year-old rain tree on Sibu’s riverside esplanade. Proximity to the mighty Rejang River and the adjacent streetscape were the other driving forces that shaped the building’s design.

The client’s brief for the café, galleries, viewing decks, and services are translated into a series of planes and volumes that are interposed into the branches of the rain tree. The tree provides a quiet backdrop to all the spaces, resembling a lush green wallpaper to all the rooms that change hue and character throughout the day.

Providing various experiences, The Ark features dining rooms overlooking streets, open decks under the tree canopy, and a riverside café for enjoying breezes. The rustling leaves (perhaps the wind?) offer a constant presence, enhancing the ambiance.

Designed to be a permeable building, The Ark aims to minimize the flow of foot traffic along the esplanade and the street. Its structure is deliberately open, featuring glazed walls that slide open to allow breezes and offer glimpses of the rain tree. The formal riverside entrance serves as a forecourt. In contrast, the street entrance appears as a nondescript break in the street fence. However, both entrances lead one into a sanctuary of calm and repose, with foliage-filtered sunlight painting shadow murals on the floor.


Team Credits




Design Team



Share our project