Loke Thye Kee Residences by Ministry of Design


From the architect. Loke Thye Kee Residences is situated in the heart of Georgetown Penang, one of 5 Malaysian UNESCO world sites rich in heritage. MOD’s design draws inspiration from this heritage and specifically the historic Loke Thye Kee restaurant, its 100-year-old namesake and neighbor. Both the restaurant and the residences re developed by the same owner, 1919 Global Sdn Bhd.

Harking back to the romance of the early 1900’s, Loke Thye Kee Residences recalls the spirit of a bygone era but adds its own contemporary twist to modernize the living experience. Colin Seah, Founder-Director explains: “I was very inspired by the romance of Penang in the 1900s, the mood and design of that bygone era was beguiling. We wanted to recall a similar charm in our design for the LTK Residences, but with an added contemporary twist that would modernise the experience and make it relevant for living today.”

Set in 5 pre-war shophouses characteristic of Georgetown, Loke Thye Kee Residences complements the Loke Thye Kee restaurant by providing 5 suites for both long and short-term guests. Designed amidst the footprint of the traditional shophouse courtyard and alleyway, each of the 5 suites is preluded by a lush garden forecourt and an intimate private balcony. The suites are furnished with soaring pitch roofs and all suites are well appointed with living areas and full facility pantry spaces.

The traditional meets the contemporary on several levels, from the materiality to the spatial experience. Traditional timber hardwood floors are contrasted with customized contemporary fixtures that are designed to appear as if levitating. The rough texture of the original brick walls are visually enlivened by hidden LED cove lighting and the typically enclosed vanity and wardrobe spaces are celebrated as transparent glass boxes which seamlessly extend into the rest of the room. Floor rugs, cushion fabrics and furniture pieces were chosen to reflect the central theme of adding a contemporary twist to the traditional.

MOD also designed all the branding and in-room collateral in order to provide a holistic experience, ranging from a quirky pillow menu, to a food map navigating the area’s street food, the room service menu, TV menu etc. The artwork was specially commissioned for the project and it reflects the spirit of historic Penang framed in a modern way.


The name Loke Thye Kee originated from a purpose built restaurant building during 1919 in George Town, Penang. Founded by brothers Loy Kok Boon and Loy Kok Dai, the restaurant served traditional Hainanese Chinese and Western Cuisine.

For 80 years, Loke Thye Kee, which in Hainanese means ‘House of Happiness’, was the choice venue for birthday dinners and wedding parties. True to its name, it was also the venue for many match-making arrangements, where young potential brides-to-be would catch a first glimpse of their suitors. These not- so-subtle arrangements would be sealed with a furtive glance and a sip of tea in a certain pre-arranged drinking style. Hence Loke Thye Kee is also affectionately known as the Love Boat, which also refers to its architecture.

Local businessman and philanthropist Khoo Sian Ewe was the original owner of the Loke Thye Keebuilding. Khoo was the richest land owner in Penang in the early 1900’s and also the landlord and friend of the Loy family. So when they needed a new home for their restaurant, he built and rented to them the iconic ship-inspired building that remained its home until 1996.

1919 Global purchased both the Loke Thye Kee restaurant, and a series of 5 shophouses next to it, to convert those shophouses into Loke Thye Kee Residences.

Interior Designers: Ministry of Design
Location: George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Design Team: Colin Seah, Kevin Leong, Joyce Low, Ruth Chong, Tiang Yuping, Sarah Conceicao, Don Washington Castaneda, Richard Herman, Norberto Olegario
Area: 633.0 sqm
Project Year: 2015
Developer: 1919 Global Sdn Bhd
Main Contractor: SeriousBiz Sdn Bhd
ID Contractor: SeriousBiz Sdn Bhd
Landscape Contractor: Camellia Landscape Sdn Bhd
C&S: Perunding Pakatan Cergas
M&E: O&A Consult Sdn. Bhd
Quantity Surveyor: Kuantibina Sdn. Bhd
Submissions Architect: K.H. Tan Architect
Artist: Ch’ng Kiah Kiean
Photographs: CI&A Photography




















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