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Creative cultural hubs in KL to dine, work and play

The emergence of cultural hubs in KL started about five years ago to cater to the burgeoning creative community. They attributed it to the rise of the millennials – from the booming social media landscape, unapologetic fashion statements as well as the rise and fall of fleeting apps like Snapchat.

Growing in tandem with this new generation are small start-ups and social entrepreneurs with a desire to impact their own industry. KL’s thriving coffee culture also pushed for more new coffee places to provide specialist techniques like AeroPress brewing, nitro cold brew and super coffee to keep the lucrative market excited. And with the demand for hot-desking and temporary small offices, the notion of co-working spaces was introduced to provide a creative and inspiring place to cultivate ideas.

These popularising trends led to a the creation of multi-purpose space that catered for work, dine and play — making the most out of the space.

The beauty of APW is its flexibility; converting an old factory into a flexible event venue for anything and everything you can think of. (Credit: APW)

Creative hubs have undeniably grown into ‘mini studios’ for followers of social media. Instant gratification aside, these are places where busy urbanites kill multiple birds with one stone by being in a place where everything is within arms’ length. From dining to having coffee, taking the best #OOTD shots to renting a hot desk for working; these creative hubs know what it takes to be the purveyors of lifestyle.

Today, these spaces have evolved and developed into creative colonies across the city. Whether or not these spaces are specifically for the Gen Y or Gen Z crowd, cultural hubs should continuously develop to provide a platform for creative ventures in all fields – food, fashion, art, music and more. These 5 multiuse cultural hubs have shown the importance of providing the city with a space for creativity of sorts. All it takes is to be flexible, adaptive and sustainable.

Uppercase, a co-working hub in APW embraces the spirit of the old printing factory. (Credit: Studio Bikin)

1. APW
Repurposed from a commercial printing factory, APW comprises of a collaborative workspace, flexible event venues, creative parks and F&B ventures. Located in the fringes of Bangsar, APW has grown into one of the most celebrated hotspots in town since it’s establishment in 2014.

52 Barbers, a barbershop focusing on shaves, beard trims and haircuts for men.

It is also home to popular hangout places in Bangsar like Pulp by Papa Palheta, Breakfast Thieves and Proof; creative offices and showroom-cum-boutique for fashion designer Khoon Hooi, as well as the venue for various artisan markets and initiatives including the monthly Riuh in the City.

Along the pavements of The Row.

2. The Row
Formerly the most notorious nightlife spot in town, The Row KL has been given a total facelift by local architecture firm, Studio Bikin. Comprising 22 1940s shophouses along Jalan Doraisamy, the project aims to change the impression of the stretch into one of the most vibrant places to visit.

Lima Pulo in The Row is a Peranakan restaurant decked in an assortment of eclectic trinkets and old-school decor items.

The massive repurposed project has given birth to a host of uniquely designed eateries, utilitarian event spaces (the indoor Slate and the outdoor Deck) and a shared office space that looks like a scene from Blade Runner.

Walking into Gasket Alley.

3. Gasket Alley
The Gasket alley is a curated industrial-themed space for all motorcycle junkies and groovy hippies. Since its opening in 2015, this brick-and-mortar space has hosted numerous events and festivals; bringing together the free-spirited community in the name of music, nuts, bolts and good vibes.

One of the many events at Gasket Alley.

Gasket Alley also houses the Harley Davidson and Moto Guzzi showroom and service centre, including 8 lifestyle shops catering to hardcore riders. If you fancy a good grub, enjoy a fusion fare at the Sherson Lian-helmed restaurant Makhan by Kitchen Mafia.

Outdoor seating at Greenhouse by Muir.

4. Greenhouse by Muir
Greenhouse by Muir is possibly the ‘greenest’ building along Jalan Ampang. The collaborative space is a gastronomic haven for ardent foodies with three floors of restaurants and cafes serving all kinds of food items and dining experiences. Established in 2015, the property is a combination of great architecture and verdant landscaping. At the entrance, you’ll be flanked by Even Dough Café and a boutique florist, Mekar. On the ground floor, witness scenes from a typical Japanese fish market with the rustic design of Kuroshio Market.

Dine in the chic reservation-only Minu restaurant for a fancy Japanese affair.

Greenhouse by Muir also houses Minu, an exclusive dining space that is entirely in white, as well as Brycg and The Deck that feature hardy elements from the Industrial Revolution.

The Zhongshan Building reminisces the beautiful architecture of 1950s.

5. The Zhongshan Building
Integrating three interconnected depilated blocks of shophouses from the 50s, The Zhongshan Building located in Kg. Attap is one of the last creative hubs to open in the last 2 years. Under the watchful vision of its founder, the building today is an independent art and research hub for a small group of design minorities in town. ‘Our ArtProject’ is the gallery featuring works of various local artists. The all-white building is also home to Atelier Fitton (bespoke tailoring) and Naiise (a curated lifestyle store from Singapore). For a quick bite, there’s Tommy le Baker (known for its famous sourdough) and Piu Piu Piu for a satisfying cup of coffee.

Creative cultural hubs in KL to dine, work and play

Martin Teo


Martin has a bent for history and food culture, especially of the Peranakan heritage. Since the pandemic, he finds joy in plant parenting and continues to expand his collection of Philodendrons, Anthuriums, and Syngoniums. On his free time, he finds time scouring through the latest cafes in search for the best croissant in the city.


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