Old Kuching Court House Sarawak, East Malaysia Borneo

The Old Kuching Court House was built in 1871 as the seat of Sarawak’s (East Malaysia) government, replacing an earlier wooden court house and was used for this purpose as late as 1973.

Initiated by Sir James Brooke, the first white Raja of Sarawak (1841-1868), the design brought together local and European architecture, construction and materials which was adapted to the tropical climate of Malaysia.

The original building contained seven rooms for the court and was extended five times between 1874 and 1927. Each extension followed the colonnaded architecture of the original wing.

In 2000, the courts were moved from the building, and the government decided to conserve and repurpose the Courthouse as a tourism-based cultural facility. The conservation of the Old Kuching Courthouse was initiated in 2000 by the state government of Sarawak, through the Ministry for Tourism.

Due to the age of the building, Westox was contacted by Patrick Tan of PAT Heritage Architects to consult on the heritage restoration process.

 

Consultation Meeting, 2000 (Left to Right) Barrie Tan of Westox Malaysia, Patrick Tan of PAT Architects, Barrie Cooper of Westox Australia, Representatives from Ministry of Tourism

 

On inspection brickwork, walls and columns were found to be suffering from rising damp and salt efflorescence.

To address these issues, the lime plasters suffering from salt contamination on existing columns and walls were stripped back to the bricks. Westox Chemical Damp Proof Courses were installed to stop rising damp, and Westox Cocoon was used for the desalination process to remove residual salts present in the masonry.

The treated brickwork was then re-plastered with sand & lime plaster to match the original mortar composition. A traditional lime wash, similar to the original finish, was applied to allow the bricks to breathe.

 

Court House 1900, Photo courtesy of John Ting

Court House 2003, Photo courtesy of John Ting

 

Restored Court House, Wikipedia