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Ms. Elliot at Hock Bee, where past meets present in Malaysia

JUJURWORK has created a stellar destination to meet, drink and eat. Through adaptive reuse, this heritage venue has once more come to life in a fashionable and timeless design.

Ms. Elliot at Hock Bee, where past meets present in Malaysia

Celebrating the past and the present, Ms. Elliot at Hock Bee is an adaptive reuse project that defines elegant simplicity. As a cafe and restaurant, the unique interior design captures the heritage of Kuantan but also incorporates the requirements of today in a thoughtful and contemporary transformation.

JUJURWORK, with lead on the project Evelyn Jingjie Wong, has created a destination of note for the client where local patrons and visitors can relax and enjoy Pahang fusion cuisine in a refined and authentic setting.

Ms. Elliot at Hock Bee is situated on Jalan Besar, the main street of the city of Kuantan located on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. The building is a much-loved architectural landmark that has stood for five decades and is a reminder to residents of the multicultural history of the town.

Comprised of two pre-war shop fronts, Ms. Elliot at Hock Bee boasts an impressive 12-metre (40-foot) frontage; above the entrance, there are five recessed bays separated by vertical fins that give dimension to the facade. The front-facing windows are designed as geometric prisms and provide light and ventilation.

The original signage for Hock Bee has been retained on the exterior, while the large glass windows with original Art Deco geometric frames have been refurbished. New maroon-coloured double doors are set within a prismatic frame that mirrors the original window design and this grand entry sets the scene for the arrival of customers.

The interior of Ms. Elliot at Hock Bee is spacious and light and the reception coffee bar features onyx tiles that were sourced from a nearby stone yard. The onyx has been artfully installed and the free-standing counter defines the entrance space as well as providing the perfect place to serve customers.

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The original mosaic floor from the 1960s has been preserved, with a bright red timber plaque with gold Chinese characters renewed and repositioned on the west wall, in-line with directions from a Feng Shui master. The original timber louvres were also restored and now become dividers between the front public cafe and the private dining spaces located behind.

Two thick entryway walls have been placed on either side of the room and they signify the access points to the ground floor dining area, the rooms behind the louvred partitions and to the mezzanine floor. As visitors pass through the entry walls the ceiling height decreases and creates a more intimate atmosphere with cozy dining booths that overlook the front cafe.

Towards the rear, two original skylights introduce natural light and aid circulation in a double-height dining hall that features long walnut tables and contemporary white bench seating. Light tubes hang from the ceiling and seemingly float above the heads of diners but also imbue a modern touch that complements the heritage structure.

Above, on the mezzanine level accessed by a stairway, vintage timber panels delineate three independent dining and lounge spaces for private gatherings. There is a small balcony that extends from this level and situated directly under the central skylight, the space offers diners a place to relax in the sun. 

JUJURWORK is an architectural design studio based in Malaysia, established in 2022 by Evelyn Jingjie Wong. The practice creates for the built environment by examining and reacting to existing contextual relationships with spatial design at the heart of each commission. Projects range from tactical interventions, new construction, adaptive reuse, interior design, urban planning and research. ‘Jujur’ translates to ‘honest’ in Bahasa Malaysia.

Ms. Elliot at Hock Bee is much more than a cafe or restaurant and a place to enjoy a drink or meal. It has become a cultural hub that celebrates the rich and diverse culture of Kuantan where Malay, Chinese, Indian and colonial architectural styles and their histories coexist in harmony. Combining architecture, art and cuisine to engage the community, the inspirational design of Ms Elliot at Hock Bee pays homage to the past but is definitely grounded in the present through this exemplary interior design.


David Yeow

More on adaptive reuse: exclusive Q&A with COP28 advisor, David Ness.

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