The Saw Emporium

Penang’s first sawmill, The Saw Emporium, has been transformed into a multi-concept dining destination.

Located within Georgetown’s heritage enclave, this manufacturing facility has stood for 67 years. Its fourth-generation owners wanted to honour the history of the building, with its art deco façade, while repurposing it into a new central focal point for the surrounding residential neighbourhood, where the community can gather around for good food, environment and conversations.

To accomplish that, the designers aimed for sensitive reuse of the existing structures with minimal amounts of construction, using materials sourced from the site. Wood is a constant theme, with best-in-its-day architecture and finishing evident throughout the space.

Apart from a repurposed 5-metre-long timber dining table in the courtyard, salvaged sawmilling parts and wood from the former sawmill have been incorporated into the design. Tiles, furniture and design elements— from the days when the sites housed building supplies—were also salvaged and reused.

Integrating multiple restaurants with separate kitchen requirements meant having to build individual kitchens for each concept. This brought about the design where the kitchens were placed at the four corners of the warehouse.

The facility also doubles as a lifestyle showroom, with furnishing by Kian Furniture—in the courtyard, covered terrace, lounges, bar and dining areas— injecting a chill and cosy vibe to complement the industrial chic setting. A gradual injection of green provides a sense of rebirth of the space from a harsh industrial aesthetic to a softer lounge setting.

Project Name: The Saw Emporium
Location: 1, Gat Lebuh Macallum, George Town, Penang
Completion Date: 10 November 2017 (first stage)
Site Area: 3,500 square metres
Gross Floor Area: 3,500 square metres
Building Height: 3 storeys
Owner: The Steamship Merchants Sdn Bhd
Principal Designer: The Steamship Merchants Sdn Bhd
Main Contractor: Kung Advance Builders Sdn Bhd
Images: The Steamship Merchants Sdn Bhd; Kian Contract