The Hin Bus Depot site is located outside the UNESCO heritage zones, but that doesn’t make it any less important. The building was built in 1947 in an art deco-style as a centralised repair, maintenance and storage site for the Hin Bus Company.
It is located in the main thoroughfare of the then Brick Kiln Road. The Hin Bus, popularly known as the “Blue Bus” by the locals was one of the main bus company servicing the locals who commute on a public transport. There were other bus companies – the Yellow Bus, Red Bus, White Bus – all known by the colour of the buses, rather than the company name. The bus companies were fragmented and disorganised, eventually facing financial difficulties leading to their closure between 1999 and 2004.
Buildings became dilapidated. Fortunately the Hin Bus Depot survives its heyday time with its stylish art-deco building facade, it is being reinvented. The gentrifications of Hin Bus Depot began in 2014 when it was used as an art space by Ernest Zacharevic, Lithuanian artist, for his first solo “Art Rubbish is Art exhibition”. The exhibition was well received and embraced by art lovers locally and overseas. Penang quickly became well known and celebrated for its quirky, interesting street art scenes, some life-size taking the entire building wall as its canvas.
Today’s Hin Bus Depot is a community art space supporting local artisans and culture scenes. It is a destination by itself on a sprawling 60,000 sq ft (5,574 sq m) ground with eight terrace shophouses. The space has a shabby-chic look, organically spawned as new business takes shape. The open space inside has arts painted on exposed walls giving a cool arty feel against the backdrops of shady trees, green lawns and plants.
The most popular time to visit is the weekly Sunday art market with pop-up stalls. This is a cool place and the only kind in George Town, Penang, Malaysia.