The Zhongshan Building Guide: A Hangout For Downtown Kuala Lumpur Creatives

The Zhongshan Building Guide: A Hangout For Downtown Kuala Lumpur Creatives

Your ultimate guide to The Zhongshan Building — what to eat, do, see, shop, hear, and learn! From sourdough to cocktails, books to music, or planners to batik, there’s always something around each corner. (Left: Image by @terry_ziraffe. Right: Image by @squarepad.)

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The Zhongshan building is a thriving creative hub: housing artisanal sourdough, speciality stores, bespoke services, folks from the underground music scene, silkscreen printing, and more. This highly diverse community of creatives is an urban rejuvenation project supported by Think City and led by art consultants Liza Ho and Snow Ng, who both have years of experience in the local arts and culture scene.

Zhongshan now consists of the main building (Block 80, 82, and 84) and a new annexe block (Block 90). The community here is growing, and you’ll not run out of things to do during your visit. However, note individual store opening hours before your visits, as some spaces are only open during events or by appointment. And, be mindful not to intrude into private design studios!

The directory here is pretty simple to follow: 80, 82, 84, and 90 are the block numbers, and the alphabets following the block number signify the floor. A for the first floor, B for the second floor, and C for the third floor. Block numbers without an accompanying alphabet mean they are on the ground floor.

Now, let’s explore what you can do at the Zhongshan building!

The Zhongshan Building
80-84 Jalan Rotan, Off Jalan Kampung Attap, 50460 Kuala Lumpur
90 Jalan Tuba, Off Jalan Kampung Attap, 50460 Kuala Lumpur (Annexe)

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Enjoy sourdough, coffee & drinks

1. Tommy Le Baker

If you’ve yet to dip your toes into the world of sourdough, this is the sign you’ve been waiting for! Tommy Le Baker has the perfect setting for brunch, and that’s when you’ll find people eagerly waiting for seats in the Zhongshan Building courtyard. This sunlit courtyard is where sourdough sandwiches, tartines, toasties, and other baked goods are savoured.

Address: 82 Jalan Rotan, Off Jalan Kampung Attap, 50460 Kuala Lumpur
Contact: +6010 266 4878

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2. Piu Piu Piu

Piu Piu Piu is an intimate coffee stand operated by the owner and founder, Unagi. Each cup of coffee here can be personalised to your preference, and they are constantly testing out new drinks behind the scene. Come and get your coffee fix here, before or after exploring the rest of the Zhongshan building.

Address: 80A Jalan Rotan, Off Jalan Kampung Attap, 50460 Kuala Lumpur

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3. Kantata

Coffee in the day, cocktails at night! This coffee bar is currently in its soft launch stage, but it’s already attracting attention with its cute yet eccentric choice of interior decor. In short, Kantata is essentially a community-driven bar that aims to celebrate all walks of life through good ol’ karaoke.

Address: 90, Jalan Tuba, Off Jalan Kampung Attap, 50460 Kuala Lumpur

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Shop at niche stores

1. Ana tomy

The Zhongshan Building may not seem like a place for shopping at first, but if you look closer, there are many niche and delightful things to see. One such place is Ana tomy, award-winning customisable stationery and gifts brand. If you love beautiful planners and stationery, you’ll be browsing in their store for a while.

Address: 82, Jalan Rotan, Off Jalan Kampung Attap, 50460 Kuala Lumpur
Contact: +6016 238 2827

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2. Re{me}dy

Re{me}dy is a sustainable health and skincare concept store. They have a re-fillery in-house where customers can bring their own re-used bottles for refilling Re{me}dy’s products. This way, the cost of packaging is saved, as well as the cost of adding another plastic bottle to our environment.

Address: 80 Jalan Rotan, Off Jalan Kampung Attap, 50460 Kuala Lumpur
Contact: +6012 922 9338

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3. Inkaa

Inkaa is a social enterprise and clothing brand that advocates for marginalised communities. They collaborate with local artisans and organisations to craft batik and mengkuang products. These beautiful products can be found at their showroom and online, all hand-signed by the makers themselves.

Address: 82C Jalan Rotan, Off Jalan Kampung Attap, 50460 Kuala Lumpur
Contact: +6014 819 0718

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4. Acid Studio Store

Acid Studio Store is a skate apparel shop that sells graphic apparel, skate accessories, and more. This counterculture ready-to-wear clothing brand is influenced by street and skateboarding culture. The founder and multidisciplinary designer, Eddie Edzuan, leads graphics, while skater Bert manages the physical store.

Address: 90A Jalan Tuba, Off Jalan Kampung Attap, 50460 Kuala Lumpur

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5. Takos Store

You’ll find cute and minimal handmade embroidery products at the Takos store. The beautiful little things around us inspire their designs, and their handcrafted quality gives each piece a unique touch. Founded by Estee, the Takos brand is her special way of sharing her view of the world. You can also commission embroidered portraits over at Takos Portrait!

Address: 90A Jalan Tuba, Off Jalan Kampung Attap, 50460 Kuala Lumpur
Contact: +6016 594 7562

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Spoil yourself with bespoke services

1. Room134

Planning to start your indoor plant journey but not sure where to begin? You’ve come to the right place! Room134 offers plant shopping, decor shopping, and space styling services. This way, you won’t need to do the work of hopping from nursery to nursery, finding the best plant for your home or workspace. Leave it to plant shopper and stylist Jason’s green thumbs to make your leafy rejuvenation project successful.

Address: 82C Jalan Rotan, Off Jalan Kampung Attap, 50460 Kuala Lumpur

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2. Belongink

Sharing the same space as Room134 is a tattoo studio, Belongink. Brandon is the main tattooist at this Downtown KL tattoo parlour, offering doodle-y, cute, quirky tattoos. Doodling is a means of expression for Brandon, as he can conjure designs from his imagination that cannot be described in words.

Address: 82C Jalan Rotan, Off Jalan Kampung Attap, 50460 Kuala Lumpur
Contact: +6013 515 4313

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3. The Alphabet Press

One look at their Instagram, and you’ll find yourself mesmerised by the beauty of The Alphabet Press’ bespoke prints. This artisanal letterpress printing company tailor makes wedding stationery, business cards, event invitations, and anything that can be printed, really. Their intricate letterpress products are made with 1960s German vintage presses.

Address: 84 Jalan Rotan, Off Jalan Kampung Attap, 50460 Kuala Lumpur
Contact: +6019-992 1882

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4. Kedai Bogus

This ‘Lokal DIY Shop’ sells various miscellaneous local goods, from tees to paracord and resin products. The shop is run by Bogus Merchandise, the go-to silkscreen printer for Malaysian creatives looking to create their own merchandise. Past notable clients of Bogus’ include Zee Avi, ILHAM Gallery, and more.

Address: 82B Jalan Rotan, Off Jalan Kampung Attap, 50460 Kuala Lumpur
Contact: +6017 915 1715

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5. Atelier Fitton

Precision and technique are constructed into the garments that come from Atelier Fitton. The founder, Joshua Fitton, has a background in architecture and takes inspiration from his English roots. Each garment is personalised to fit a person’s lifestyle (not just their body), keeping it timeless and functional, yet maintaining its origins in English bespoke tailoring.

Address: 82A Jalan Rotan, Off Jalan Kampung Attap, 50460 Kuala Lumpur
Contact: +6011 1233 8773

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6. Muhendaran Sri

Muhendaran Sri is a boutique law firm and probably the only people at Zhongshan building in business formal wear! They offer services in industrial relations and employment law, civil litigation, commercial law, child law, family law, and art/entertainment law. We love that they have a blog where they occasionally write, and according to them, it is “to satisfy the needs of our multitude of adoring fans.”

Address: 84A Jalan Rotan, Off Jalan Kampung Attap, 50460 Kuala Lumpur
Contact: +603 2260 2611

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Immerse yourself in books, art, and music

1. Rumah Attap Library & Collective

This is not your average run-of-the-mill library. Rumah Attap’s collection focuses on reads that centre on critical thinking, curated to encourage exchanging ideas. It is also a space for group readings, discussions, workshops, and forums. Two-thirds of their largely inherited and donated collection are Chinese-language books, while the rest are in English and Malay.

Address: 84C Jalan Rotan, Off Jalan Kampung Attap, 50460 Kuala Lumpur

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2. Balai Buku Raya

Alind is a book lover who has had years of experience in the Malaysian independent bookselling industry. At Balai Buku Raya, the books are curated by Alind for other book lovers — so you’ll find many rare, out-of-print and second-hand titles.

Address: 84B Jalan Rotan, Off Jalan Kampung Attap, 50460 Kuala Lumpur
Contact: +6017 224 8952

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3. The Back Room

You need to catch one of The Back Room’s exhibitions on one of your adventures to Zhongshan. This gallery is an independent alternative space that connects young and upcoming artists, creatives, and curators with visitors through their intimate exhibitions. Founded by Liza Ho, one of the founding members of The Zhongshan Building, it is one of the few art galleries in Downtown KL.

Address: 80A Jalan Rotan, Off Jalan Kampung Attap, 50460 Kuala Lumpur

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4. Tandang Records Store

Tandang Records Store is one of the few vinyl record stores in Downtown KL. Run by founders Wan and Alak, the store stocks varying genres of music, although its essence is rooted in punk. Besides vinyl, you will also see CDs, cassettes, band merch, music zines, and books. On some nights, they are infamous for throwing gigs that last till the wee hours of the morning.

Address: 82B Jalan Rotan, Off Jalan Kampung Attap, 50460 Kuala Lumpur

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5. Fono

If you love music, you’ll need to keep up to date on Fono’s music events, lest you suffer the FOMO. Fono regularly hosts live listening parties of varying music genres, sometimes with artists from other parts of the world. They also work with other spaces, organisations, and collectives to throw you unforgettable music parties, film screenings, and creative workshops.

Address: 80C Jalan Rotan, Off Jalan Kampung Attap, 50460 Kuala Lumpur

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6. Kanid Studio

Kanid Studio is the private studio of Alena Murang, one of the first women to play the sape’ (a lute instrument from Borneo, traditionally reserved for male healers pre-1930s). Alena plays the sape’, dances, and sings in the endangered languages of Kelabit and Kenyah. Her work tells of the people and environment of Borneo. At the same time, Alena does preservation work through research and documentation.

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No peeking into private design studios

There are quite a few design studios here, which is no surprise considering the role of the Zhongshan building as downtown KL’s creative hub. Most of them are private offices, so it’s best not to go around peeking into their studios — though you can certainly admire their work online!

1. Studio Kanta

Studio Kanta is a joined force of two multidisciplinary designers, Suek Mei and Adrien Kent. Both masterminds’ unique approach to design shines through in their works. Interior design, graphic design, and product and wayfinding design are among the services that they offer to help elevate a brand’s story. Some of their past clients you may have heard of are Common Ground, Momo’s Kuala Lumpur, and Nelissa Hilman.

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2. Huruf

Huruf is a type collective consisting of talented type and graphic designer Sueh Li and research associate Tan Zi Hao. Together, they aspire to bring awareness and inspire others with typography and type design in Malaysia. Just one look at their type studio, Hrftype and the collective Huruf, and you’ll see that what they aspire to is already being done.

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3. Ejin Sha Studio

Founded by Ejin Sha in 2017, this graphic design studio invents unique visual identities for brands so that ideas and stories are communicated more effectively. Ejin’s practice spans across various disciplines, including visual identity, art direction, exhibition, and print and digital design. Some brands she’s designed for are Moto Guo, Pertubuhan Arkitek Malaysia (PAM), and Kongsi KL.

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4. Valenlim Studio

Valen Lim is a graphic designer and illustrator who draws inspiration from local elements with a contemporary touch. They are experienced in many different facets of design, like illustration, brand identity, typography, print graphics, and publication design.

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5. Jjonalim

This is the private studio of Jona Lim, whose works are primarily digital art, music, and entertainment. Jona is a multidisciplinary art director and digital and motion designer with works that will blow your mind. He is currently the Creative Lead at Netflix Malaysia.

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6. Putticoop

This is a designer who is hard to pin down in terms of what he does. The mind behind Putticoop is Kian, a designer who engages in collaborative projects in all fields of creativity. His current project, Nowhere Kitchen, uses leftovers brought in by guests to create an impromptu four-course meal.

It set out to explore the social issue of food waste. On occasion, the Putticoop studio opens for exhibitions and workshops too. Kian also has interests in astrology, tarot reading, and meditation.

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Enrich your mind at these research and resource centres

1. Malaysia Design Archive

“What is our design history? Do we have one?” are the questions that Malaysia Design Archive (MDA) aims to explore. Their archive maps graphic design development in Malaysia from pre-independence to our current times. Besides being a physical space where the archival takes place, MDA hosts workshops and talks and is a resource for Malaysian art and design creations.

Address: 84B Jalan Rotan, Off Jalan Kampung Attap, 50460 Kuala Lumpur

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2. The Ricecooker Archives

The Ricecooker Archives is an independent Rock’n’Roll treasury and resource centre archiving the underground music scene in Southeast Asia. It’s run by Joe Kidd, a punk-rocker-for-life whose own collection of punk and underground music paraphernalia occupies a part of the archives. The resource centre houses rare magazine clippings, books, posters, cassette tapes, vinyl records, and more.

Address: 84B Jalan Rotan, Off Jalan Kampung Attap, 50460 Kuala Lumpur

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(they/them) River is a pawrent to 2 cats and an introvert. Part of the UBI (Useless Bits of Information) brain club, inspiration usually strikes when they're in the shower, on the toilet bowl or during commutes.