basis to formulate a theory for architecture

many a time we delve into a design project, and then we find ourselves in the middle of a commission, caught in time, of not knowing quite if the building which evolves before our eyes requires any sort of examination, deeper or closer than pure visual assessment. wherefore at this point, we urge to ask if any philosophical position becomes necessary at all prior commencement of development of a architectural proposition. some have argued that a great work need not necessitate the having laid out a theory behind it, suffice to promote an experience or an engagement albeit purely of the physical sense, and not in any likelihood an intellectual one, least of all to have any basis or theory. it would be argued furthermore the approach and intent must foremost be checked against the will of the project. the will to win yet another competition or of sustaining a particular aesthetic or house style of the practice alone does not justify or give any validation for the unassuming propagation of a strong willed styled or visually appealing work or building. perhaps it is better to accept that the consistent act of procuring a series of architectural designs might merit the need for a theory to explain the philosophy, more than if it was one specific gesture, which in fact does not connect in anyway to the next attempt, so that any two buildings which do not have any common denomination for design or academic purpose or intellectual discourse wouldnt merit to give such intellectual value. so that in that case, a theory to validate the work would not yet have become into neccessity. yet, a theory of architecture sometimes might lead one to think its meaning is to help one to define or extract a definition for a process to be developed which informs the adopted methodology. something that corrects the thought process, making it more an acceptable formula to allow permissible or accepted norms of commercial design practice. worst to give it any validation for its commercial value. yet if one theory or conceived path can be applied to one building or series of buildings would that make the theory more critical than the building itself. therein lies the investigative remark. did we or did we not accept that the resultant work is more precious and should be defended rather than the intent or the validation of it. what if the intended building did not conceive a workable or meaningful experience or result. can a building which exhibit poor workmanship, bad detailing or deplorable planning merit a good theoretical premise before it was conceived or preempted. could such a thing be plausible. what if the theory was not sound or the concept was inferior but that the building itself permeates good sense and spatial delight. can it be argued that the theory or schematics did not produce the work rather it was the element of time and will that put it together. therefore to conclude, with not much of an exception, that a successfully executed project requires more than a theory to defend its existence, there was probably a good method or process to interpret the intent and deliver the desired effect. it is argued therefore the process and methodology merits the experience and not the intent on its own to warrant the desired effect.
@2015.huatlim. 5.10.2015

hotel jen : jalan sultan ismail

after the lantern hotel was completed earlier in 2015 the office embarked and reignited and returned to a 20 year old site, on another project in which the hotel operator laid down the number of rooms, and the location of the pool, after reviewing the building plans. over the last fuve years, we have had to make nearly seven revisions to the building plans, some of the changes are in fact enhancements to the design, for instance in making the rooms larger than 27 sqm. the final version, copied to the land owner (also the developer) and the hotel has a development order with a plot ratio of about 1: 7.9. this design was originally named the grass hotel reflecting the visually striking green wall that rose several floors to house the statutory number of car parks. the tower comprises two 2.5 tonnes lifts for mechanical parking, providing a total of over 80 bays. the current details have eight rooms per floor, and a open swimming pool on the top of the roof, however the design currently submitted will retain the facade as a simple masonry fenestration with the cafe still in the middle floors. the number of keys have been added to satisfy the clients brief which is 185 keys. hotel is located right along the same street leading to the petronas twin towers and opposite the current shangrila hotel along sultan ismail, a busy hotel street itself. the access is excellent either by rail transit or vide a traffic route that takes you directly to all the key commercial areas such as the famous bukit bintang district. estimated construction time to finish this project is 30 months from october this year 2015.

phoebe residence

the house built for ms phoebe chan and mr. terence wong is now finally complete, and also nearly at the same time as lantern hotel, both small scale, medium to high budget projects, with very intense design development phases, strewn with timeline challenges and restraints on costs. the 1600 m2 residence is perched on a hill slope, overlooking a river, unkempt but clean by local standards, blocking some not so pretty architecture beyond. the material geneology remains the same, at the very least they are organic, natural and warm. a new composition is made out by placing coloured concrete close to steel work coated in micaceous oxide paint, the rest is timber and selected aggregate, some are insitu and some precast off site. the living room offers the most accurate interpretation, demonstrating the careful use of daylight throughout the scheme. wherever necessary ventilation is introduced but this is largely a naturally ventilated house. it is also one project completed after nearly three years in which zlg as an office didnt have anything built after point92. in theory this was a building that was intimately conceived with time as the essence, we had a great contractor who was sympathetic to the entire process. ultimately the client together with her partner gave us complete trust and was always encouraging, supportive and totally generous with their own time and money. the pool relocation which was earlier at the same level as the entrance was magic. it did all the things we hadnt thought about. colin okashimo who had also worked on the concept came up with some suggestions, incorporating within the house a externalised experience. the pool gave this project a very strong connection to the landform and the site elements. the double volume library is another part of the house that characterises the unique design. it does get a little too warm facing the afternoon sun, but visually from inside the house it gave a fantastic view out to the poolside, also bringing in a lot of daylight into the centre of the house.

sir peter cook lecture

sir peter came with gavin robotham to zlgdesign's office to peruse some design methods and also revisit age old academic issues and the ongoing phenomena between teaching and practice and the inevitable comparing of the two most likely british schools, the Bartlett and the AA.

point92 marine plywood lobby statement

point92 (now named menara obyu) facade is shown in the later part of the afternoon, taken from drop off area. part of facade cleaning has taken place this week and landscape replanting works are srill ongoing. here what we see is the view of the entrance just before the lift lobby. the timber construction in the ceiling is the acmv dropper and the ones outside made to look identical to the ones inside are light baffels and sockets for the terraces outside the glass line of the entrance.

sir peter cook lecture

sir peter cook came this time with gavin rowbotham partner in crab studios who operate their design operstions from london. peter was last in malaysia in 2010. peter cook taught at the aa and now advises the bartlett and many other reknown universities as well as architecture firms, lately the hok stadia based in australia.

point92: basalt stone lobby

The lobby of point92 is located at the entrance level shown here with signs of a landscaped deck with a view toward the lower side roads surrounding the site. The plants are species selected to grow upto 12 feet and we noticed they shed their leaves very frequently which adds to the character of the garden strip around this area. We don't mind the rustic look and the worn feel of the surrounding green bordering the edge of the lobby at all.

The granite floor is finished in two tone volcanic basalt imported from Vietnam. We were there to inspect the quarry, a very impressive array of natural stones were available but basalt is the most beautiful and also the most readily sourced from this region in the north part of Vietnam. The home and finished mixture is patterned after the facade which is consisting of many randomly sized windows.

point92: ceiling construction

We saw that the ceiling was last put up after the windows are well in place and when the facade is in very advanced stage of completion. Access was difficult and had tinge done through erecting metal staging and scaffolding before the floor could be put in.

point92: concept statement

Point 92 is a new iconic office landmark which brings forward ideas that challenges the norm of today’s work environment. The project name derives from the area of which it sits on that spans 0.92 acres, hence the name Point 92. The design of the building attempts to generate an intimate workplace as well as an interactive building. The building’s vertical layers consist of an 11 storey office block, a 2 storey arrival hall and a 6.5 storey carpark podium.

The shape of the office block is envisioned as a white concrete cube carved by incising it to create a recess breakout area void space and the chamfered edges on 2 corners. The breakout area void that spans from level 5 to level 12 is accessible on the level 5 and 7 where a landscape deck is created as part of the idea to bring landscape up to the office workplace. This landscape in the sky concept attempts to soften the office spaces to promote a more conducive working environment and in the meantime creating an interactive space that encourages interaction between work peers. This exclusive shape of the office block generates unique floor footprints that changes on each office level apart from its middle core that houses the building services and lift cores.

At the carpark podium, a screen of green creepers encloses the structure on its perimeter, creating a mass of green which the gleaming white office block hovers above. The creeper screen not only filters sight into the carpark spaces within, but also blends the podium with its surrounding environment as the building ages. The permeable enclosure of the structure also allows the space to be natural ventilated.

A transitional zone at level 1 and 2, later renamed to level G(Ground) and L(Lobby), separates the office block from the carpark podium. The 2 storey space houses the main arrival hall that connects to PJU 8/8A road at Ground level. The arrival hall, mainly enclosed by clear glass generates a floating effect of the office block hovering atop a mass of green.

Visitors arriving from PJU 8/8A road at Level G drop off will be greeted immediately by a sculptural staircase that leads up to the main reception lobby level. The shape of the staircase that intertwines with the landscape planter creates pockets of space which are conducive for casual meetings between work peers. This landscape planter tray that continues up to the main reception lobby level, embraces the main lobby hall with trees at an average height of 3-4m. This average height of the trees is proportionate to the generous ceiling height in the reception lobby that varies from 5.7m to 7.6m high. At the planter tray, carefully selected vantage points that overlooks to the hilly landscape afar are remained uninterrupted by trees. Towards the western side of the building sits the café/restaurant space with an external terrace that extends out into the ‘mini forest’ landscaping. The thick planting on the arrival hall levels helps in regulating and controlling the indoor temperature and comfort level by acting as a sun screen through various part of the day.

The building has 2 lift cores with one leading up to the office block while the other serving only the carpark floors below. The transitional floor between the lift cores happen at level 2 where the reception lobby is located. This limits the public entry point into the office block to only one, easing the building security control.

The unique pattern on the office block façade is derived from the Braille code system. A set of pattern composed mainly of 6 different shapes arranged in an order that spells the project name is repeated throughout the façade, generating unique façade openings that vary from floor to floor. F1 metal formworks are specified for the casting of the white concrete to ensure consistency in the opening shape as well as the finished surfaces. These openings are fitted with low-E double glazing which helps to regulate the building indoor temperature and comfort level while minimizing energy consumption of the building.

The chamfered walls on the north-east and south-west corners are constructed in normal grey concrete with horizontal rough-sawn timber plank imprint patterns. These patterns on the wall create the effect of the building block being sliced at 2 corners to reveal its internal layers. Openings on these walls are covered with fixed glass with an angled window hood to shield the building indoor from direct sunlight.

To add a soft touch to a mostly heavy masonry material palette, marine plywood is used to clad the underside of the office block as well as the breakout area walls. The marine plywood which is generally used in boat building is selected for its durability against the local hot and humid weather. Marine plywood panels are also added to building elements that are within human touch such as the RC benches on level 2, level 5 and 7 breakout area as well as the reception table.

Green Building Index (GBI)

‘Green’ strategies are implemented in the building design to create a more environmental friendly and sustainable office building and workplace. Systems such as the condensate water recovery system, waterless urinals, water efficient fittings, rainwater harvesting for irrigation purposes as well as the low-E double glazing as mentioned above are all included into the design scheme. This building has been awarded with the provisional GBI certificate.

point92: update

as of this blog entry date, we are three weeks away from the final days before vacant posession. the trees have mostly been planted around level 2, we are waiting for the cleaning to be carried and completed for the external facade. no signs of deterioration so far of the white concrete. a remarkable connection to the outside from the inside. visible in the foreground is a sample of the benches also made from marine ply and insitu concrete. to the back we see a row of droppers forming the air conditioning supply diffusers and also light fixtures, again these are lined in marine ply finish.

Point92: corbusier windows

we can notice a peculiar detail in point92 which is the slant wall with porcupine like hoods and projections, they resemble thorn like constructions made from concrete fins and insterstitial glass windows. These are lights which turning around the corner of the office block carved out to draw daylight into the workplace. it is easy to see how they have been inspired from several of le corbusier work in the early thirties, bearing this type of design in concrete roofs of his buildings in france.

Point92: craftsmen at work

we loved the teamwork in this project including all the skilled craftsmen and workmen at the site. the contractors were very skilled, and they made it all much more detailed and sophisticated then we had expected, something we couldn't do with contract drawings alone. they found ways to help us fabricate the wood, and made our joinery details almost exactly as we have prepared them and anticipated the complexity of it all, giving the overall work a sense of great craftsmanship especially with the plywood work. the lift lobby and waiting lounge are filled with so much more natural energy than we have imagined over the drawing board. it is also largely due to the extra care taken to ensure daylight penetration is preserved all around the building. 

Point92 nearing completion

this is now about two months away - more photographs of the completed building will be posted here. up until now we would bot be too certain if construction dust woukd get in the way of the cincrete casting sequence which is a very delicate business. the forms are travelling in two directions, one set going in the opposite of another so as to create a uniform spread of concrete mixes. the windows are placed. the braille system windows are finally completed and able to go full blast on fabrication.

Point92 project description

Simply named after the size of the site itself, this formidable building perches on a sloped site, overlooking Damansara Perdana and its ribbons of roads. The punctuated façade is similar to all of ZLG Design’s works and that is not to say that the appeal is lost. In fact, the play of ambience through the incorporation of day lighting with façade treatment is a tried and true timeless aesthetic, as are the impeccable play of materials the architects are known for. “Although the brief called for office development, we had this idea that much of the work place products that are available today had not played creatively on issues the likes of day lighting, ambience and materiality of the façade,” says Huat Lim, Managing Director of zlgdesign. “Instead, nearly all office developments emphasise efficiency and maximum density as overriding concerns and aims over design and aesthetics , let alone their simple functionality in terms of critical ambience and spatial plan.”

Staying true to their intention of creating an ambience that includes the context to the inside of the building, visitors will get to experience a breathtaking view of Damansara Perdana as they arrive at the lobby through a slowly rising escalating step way above the drop off. The arrival deck allows visitors to drink in the view by providing randomly placed precast concrete benches that encourages respite while wooden lanterns with marine plywood ceilings buttoned tightly against a raw concrete under croft creates a soothing canopy. The reception desk with a pandomo recessed and undulating rebated wall greets the visitor and reminds them of the graphics and geometry of the building’s façade walls.

“As an office plan, the generating feature of the floor plate is in fact a cut-out space which comprises of several levels of voids connected through gardens and meshes of vertical planting. The centre support column is braced to either side with different thickness of beams each corresponding to different floor forces framing the vertical space that is the garden,” explains Huat Lim. There is also a special screen that rises several levels in the façade and made of layers of greenery supported on a series of steel wire ropes pulled between the floors. The terraces beyond the screen is specially lit and designed grandly to give the viewers from outside a peep into the garden, adding an ethereal touch of a floating mysterious garden within a floating building by the hillside.

To overcome the problem of building on a slope, the design opted for Lafarge cement to create an in situ concrete wall instead of the usual precast concrete solutions. “Not only was it necessary to use metal formwork in sets to meet with a target schedule, we were also informed of the uniformity issues if the façade was casted in regular sequences. Hence the randomly casted sequence.” Huat Lim adds. To give better moment connections and easy casting as well as minimise bulging and honey-combing of the surface concrete, part of the floor slabs had to be casted together with the wall elements. Elegantly rising from the slopes, the slanting walls in the façade continues the natural geometry of the site while the rectangular punctuations complement the ever developing built environment in Damansara Perdana. Light permeating through the punctured façade promises a soothing and safe ambience, highlighted further by the backing hills as well as the warm and raw colours of the chosen materials and finishes. There is no denying that this is a much anticipated addition to the trendy workplaces that seem to centralise upon this hilly area.

Courtesy SPACE magazine @2012

venice architecture biennale

The vessel (final draft)

Malacca surprisingly enough draws many parallels to Venice. The water body surrounding the peninsula of old Malaya has brought about the congruence of cultures to come together and manifest in the voices of today's artisans, craftsmen and architects - a tapestry that is now the modern architectural feat that is both Malacca and Venice. Our Straits of Malacca echoes the Grand Canal in trade, history and spiritual growth in the realms of culture, finance and the arts.

The Rialto Bridge mirrors its wonderful cousin - the wooden bridge in old Malacca. During the Portuguese occupation days, royal warriors once fought here. This modern day world class tourist destination was famously known as a point of many contentious and vigorous trades. Similarly the arsenals of Venice, once a defence mechanism at the now famously visited Arsenale – is a station and laboratory for tremendous artistic expressions, ideas and the ‘raison d'être’ for this architectural exposition in Venice. An event that commands creative individuals to issue their contemporary voices, Malacca similarly echoes this in its own history of Dutch, British and Portuguese influence which spurred into Malaysia's multicultural and multilingual identity. Traveller and trader alike, the Venice of Asia begets today's fine art and modern expressions in both a cultural and intellectual sense. We see this as the common ground of any form of architecture. Both Malacca and Venice are similar in nature in their respective diverse history and critical cultural contribution to their nations.

The evolution of maritime architecture in both historical cities resonates in the marine and wooden materials selected for the Malaysian installation – a structure to anchor, protect and capture the individuality of 30 Malaysians. Ruskin's diary written in 1840s Venice, reminds us of the fundamentals and foundations of architecture through his essay ‘The Seven Lamps of Architecture’. Our core theme of Voices verbalises the four of the ‘Lamps’ – Sacrifice in presence at the Biennale, Truth in the choice of natural materials – wood, Life in the craftsmanship of the exhibit and Memory of the relationship and common ground Malacca and Venice share. It is through our Noah’s Ark that we express our desire to collectively cultivate and regard creativity at any place and time. The vessel represents the travelling echo of voices – sailing across boundaries and differences, from one vessel to another through intellectual waters to propose knowledge, intelligence and philosophical truths for those who seek to embrace and enjoy.

Our voices are captured in a small but unified floating vessel, elevated to give way for water to pass below and the journey continues as Venice receives our ideas through the exchange of voices. Through trade and exchange of past and present, we find Sir David Chipperfield's quest for common ground.

written by mei-zhi neoh for huatlim for the creative team

kenanga taxi stand

The design for the taxi stand at kenanga was not only unusual it did not meet any of the aesthetic criteria set down by the local authority. It took a lot of effort to convince not only the officers at the municipal but our own clients who saw no benefit in designing something different. We must have fought everyone in the team, including the QS, the structural engineer, the main contractor, the end user, the facade department of dbkl, everyone including the road and drainage department of kuala lumpur. There were accusations that zlg were delaying the project, in fact the client battled to rid of this design initially. They even took sides with the authority! What a tiresome exercise this was and how incredibly difficult it is to propose the simplest things sometimes. How we feel it so important that the general public take more learned awareness towards their environment, all of the built forms that surround them in their lives and that they cannot allow antiquity and ancient laws hold meaning back from their reality of good and simple design.

So whatever it is that makes this a sustainable design comparable if not in fact superior to what is in the books ouhgt o be made known to all. Foremost its all concrete, so its not nuclear science, and its also totally maintenance free, there is no skylight (we had it before) or tediously but poorly detailed glass panels anywhere, no rust prone metal balustrades posing corrosion issues, no metal deck roof, no unsightly plastic rainwater downpipes or unnecessary roof gutters and no costly waterproofing membranes to maintain or worry about and ghastly black gaskets or unsightly silicon joints (associated with glazing work) to this design. Surely the authorities can appreciate this approach if what seems to be of their concern is vandalism and poor upkeep or maintenance.

The best part is it costs a fraction of what is already out there, and takes no science to build it. Just a lot of passion and faith.

kenanga facade

Study for kenanga facade involves a number of decisions pertaining size of openings and thickness of the precast grc panels. We were also aware that in some areas the holes are glazed and in many of them they remain open to the elements thereby attracting other limitations. It was necessary to think of ways to discharge incoming water and also grime and dirt from outside.

In the longer elevation we can see the first lower rows of facade responding more to retail lots thereby being more closed up whereas toward the top, just before the roof we had to keep the windows or openings totally open for ventilation for the car park floors.

kenanga: lower ground retail area with f&b outlets

the lower ground floor of the kenanga building has an area filled largely with eateries and f&b outlets and shops which benefits from great access direct from the street. it is filled with daylight and is also endowed with large expanse of vertical planting located on the walls along the front. the street and pedestrian walkways are both visible from this space. whereas the shops on this level similarly looks into the surrounding buildings beyond the street, connected through stairs, escalator ramps and accessible vide a number of lifts located along the front of the building. the space is protected from rain and sun by a large overhang roof. the underside of this is covered with precast glass reinforced concrete panels.


The facade started as a grid of openings casted into a series of solid reinforced concrete panels. Each panel is secured mechanically to rc columns and floor slabs and lifted into place and assembled in situ sealed and grouted all round the edges. A total of 1600 panels were assembled in this way for the facade.

kenanga : car park ramp wall detail

the elevated car park in the kenanga wholesale city (KWC) project is on 7 levels above ground and they serve more than 1600 car parking bays. The external facade is a perforated concrete wall made from precast grc and are mechanically fixed to rc columns and steel posts which are prefabricated and fixed between floor slabs. This building is in fact as tall as a 23 storey structure. It was completed within 30 months from concept design to the finished building. It has more than 800,000 sqft of lettable floor and at least 300 lots of retailers. The total GFA is approximately 1 million sq feet.

maple residence

this is a simple remodelling project involving the relocstion of the kitchen. the concept involves the combination of two originally separate spaces resulting in a new linear kitchen and a much larger boutique living room with minimal furniture, these are placed centrally to what is a merged living, dining and kitchen space. the floor is white self levelling concrete and calcium silicate floor treatment. in oreparation for this, the entire house has had to be vacated for three months, allowing time for the original tiles to be completely hacked away, and replaced with a mortar which receives a final layer of epoxy toward the end of the project.

kenanga lower ground stair detail

this is a detail view of the kenanga lower ground floor access stair detail with f&b lots opening to a terrace with vertical planting to one side. this space is directly accessible from public walkways which are on the ground floor. this is a similar stair detail employed in 2005 for the challenge park climbing centre main staircase, in putrajaya malaysia.

the promenade

A masterplan study and redevelopment of a parkland with sloping ground in east malaysia. Approach road enters a plateau and an elevated reinforced concrete deck offering views into distant valleys. Low density residential property with precast concrete walls and block work facade with custom openings throughout the elevations.

kenny heights

about fifteen minutes just outside of the cbd area of kuala lumpur is a masterplan for 100 acre development we named the kenny heights redevelopment, which is comprising low density housing and commercial hub, located opposite the istana negara (royal palace). this development has been shelved to make way for smaller and lower density mixed development comprising mostly high end uomarket housing and retail products to reflect the upmarket trend in the area and districts. the study shows the road metwork buried under the plaza offering a pedestrianised link between the massive towers that surround the curved streets to the centre which is a large garden plaza.

commercial and arts centre

this is a sketch prepared for a recent development and feasibility study from last year for a modern commercial hub next to the retail centre, pavilion, in kuala lumpur for an international school, an arts centre and a retail development. the link bridge is proposed to connect the hub to a lively commercial amd shopping district over the other side of the project site. the few towers at the back have been allocated to house student hostels and a residence and a hotel tower.

zlgdesign new palette

we return to our original plywood house palette for the office design. the office design was conceptualised with a library and laboratory atmosphere and genius loci in mind, and an art studio rolled into one, a rustic conservatory and science lab all coming together and merging into one space. this also goes in line with our own work philosophy and belief thst all spaces ultimately function as one realm, blurring the boundary between work and play and between inside and outside. wood, resin mortar and black steel make up the geneology of our space at d7 near kuala lumpur.

grass hotel in 2012

the hotel development in 2012, is located right across from klcc twin towers this could be ten minutes walk. It will bear signature raw concrete grc precast panels with geometrical patterns and shapes and plenty of vertical planting. The base houses 250 parking bays of car park an elevator parking system we will design together with korean engineers. The footprint is extremely tight making this an impossible site for a great reception, generator set rooms and refuse chambers all on the same level.

phoebe house: a residential project after 10 years

the phoebe house is perhaps our only small project after nearly ten years. it is a best example of how important it is to work woth like minded people, amd yet how we don't think alike and also that unlike minded people can in fact think alike. we have from the beginning come into realisation that perhaps our client and us as their architects are very different people, and that we have come from totally different cultural and intellectual backgrounds, but somehow we both seem to agree easily on many design fronts and we share very similar aspirations and art direction and general reference to the aesthetics we would like to embrace for this project. it is already quite unusual that we have come to agree on the choices and selection of colours, materials and design for nearly every element of the house. it is well worth noting here, how norman foster would himself have said this to me, that architecture is about people, it is first the client and then the building.

zlgdesign has moved to sentul

we are delighted finally to have completed the big (painfully long) move to sentul and we are at last enjoying glorious morning light every day each day bring joy to our hearts. we also embraced in the fact we have acquired a fantastic new courtyard within the premises which belong to the building. what more, the area and precinct of sentul if one can recall its not too ancient history with golf clubs and railway godowns and bankrupt developers, is and has always had a great cultural ambience. so that as architects we would want to instill public awareness for the genius loci of this hidden secret of kuala lumpur. we find the call of duty an catalytic agent for design not only of our offices but also as inspirwtion to bring people to the area via events and workshops and collaborations. with that we set up zlgevents more seriously and took trouble to invest in the event company.

point92 is nearly ready

Aren't we the happiest bunch now that the facade of point92 has gone up and up and the concrete envelope seem slowly to complete itself around this 160,000 sqft of office space without much hindrance. We note the white lafarge cement panels will be needing a lot of critical protection against all forms of pollution but we specified formcrete 007 knowing very well it will impregnate and seal the cement. Also now that is has been sold to a oil and gas company we are even more delighted than ever.

sustainability at challenge park

We were delighted with the recent ong siew lecture series held in singapore which took a turn when zlg presented this building. The deeply intriguing conversation went off on an interesting tangent when we talked about sustainability in a way that was different. We always wanted very much to embrace sustainability which meant we could keep the look and feel of a building for a very much longer time, without having to do strange things to it, like destructive building extensions or modifications. this is one of the very latest images of the challenge park skate centre, showing how the most simple elements are used, without too much concern for decoration. the strong geometry of the roof and the slender columns allow for such modifications that would not take the design concept away from it.

sir peter cook lecture tour of asia

the sir peter cook lecture is now closed for bookings. we are very thankful to all of you who have come to support this event, we are over subscribed by at least 100 persons, so our thanks to all colleges and universities who have generously sponsored their students to come to this great design event. most of all thanks to andrew james of populous who in the first place has agreed to underwrite this event to enable malaysians to enjoy sir peter's talk.

Huat LIM worked for Lord Foster, Zaha Hadid and the late Ron Herron in the eighties in London and then later moved to Nimes and Lyons in France to work for Francois-Jourda Perraudin Architectes in France. Huat trained at the Architectural Association London under the tutorship of Sir Peter Cook, before moving on to work for Lord Foster in 1984, and is now registered member of the Architect Registration Council of the UK since 1987. Huat taught briefly at the Bartlett London, with Sir Peter Cook and David Dunster. Huat LIM has been employed to work on very large and complex buildings, a career spanning over 22 years, principally at Lord Foster’s London’s Stansted Airport, the Nimes Mediateque Museum, Hongkong and Shanghai Bank's HQ at Canary Wharf [originally designed for a speculative office during a design competition with Ken Shuttleworth], the Masterplan for King’s Cross Redevelopment, and later at Imagination Limited’s Jubilee Line Extension for London [with the late Ron Herron of Archigram fame]. During this period Huat worked with Imagination Limited's Gary White and the famous Roland Paoletti who hailed from Hongkong's Railway Authority.

Back in Asia after some 12 years abroad in London, Nimes and Lyons, Huat worked on GDP’s Asia Broadcasting Centre [very fast track USD 45 million broadcasting studio project built under 10 months] and their NTV7 Radio and Television Studios. Huat was also engaged to work with design teams to win Ken Yeang’s Singapore National Library Competition and LDY’s entry for the Xian International Airport Competition. Huat's main contribution to zlgdesign profile is with the avenueK and Kenanga Wholesale City project.

hails from Frankfurt and studied art history before her postgraduate term at the Staedle Schule under the tutorship of Professor Peter COOK, and later at the Bartlett School of Architecture, London. Susanne moved to Malaysia in 1992, and now lives in Kuala Lumpur and is Executive Director and Senior Partner at zlgdesign. Her most significant contribution to zlgdesign is the BOH Visitor Centre which has since won wide public recognition. Susanne is no less of an architect than she is a designer, having delivered most of the interior design projects for the firm, namely the I-Zen, Puncak Dana and the MK Land Interiors and Show Unit designs. Her training in London after a stint in Germany at the Frankfurtschule under the tutorship of Sir Peter Cook of Archigram fame, has given her an interesting edge through her very broad but yet distinctive cultural style to her work at zlgdesign.

Susanne was instrumental in the delivery of the BOH Visitor Centre. her many months on site helped put together a very unique and unusual solution to the external cladding of this long and narrow building, which has since won the Barbara Cappochin Award from Padova, Italy and the recently issued Cityscape Singapore Real Estate Corporate Building Award for its Sustainable and Responsible Construction.


view of the external taken from entrance, showing facade designs

this is clearly a low to medium cost development, scheduled to go on the market sometime early next year. currently the density needs to be brought down to about 350 units to the entire project. the land area is about 10 acres, the site enjoys proximity to a thick forest, and lush greenery. there was also no denying the fact the site is extremely difficult, very tight and has limited access.

sustainable development primer

An Approach

Any enterprise who is an internationally recognised brand must embrace a quality system for their product. This primer is to be derived from a strong philosophy. Their approach for a green development must be all encompassing, including the appointment and selection of all experts and specialists engaged for any of their project. To this end the developer or Enterprise must engage specialist teams assigned to undertake such programmes as sustainability developments must signal an equally elaborate and sophisticated approach methodology in their Implementation.

Enterprise need to take a long view in terms of their development [product] to culminate in deliverables of the highest quality. Their long term plan in terms of manifestation of all their projects may commence perhaps with this Primer.

Picking the Right Team

A fundamental resource for this primer will be the choicest Project Manager. They make or break the scheme of things and will be key to the master framework for setting up intelligence at various levels for the rest of the team, being their sub-consultants, and also other experts to be employed or engaged for more detailed designs, for instance harnessing wind if anything or recycling ground or brown water. The Project Manager necessarily oversees the appointment of all consultants and advises on the overall programme strategy and objectives. They also make recommendations to enhance design quality from the start, as well as protecting the interest of the Enterprise as their Client, including the demarcation and outline of all planning and architectural aesthetics and general artistic direction of the specified products within the development. All prerequisite Endorsements and Certification [culminating in a Design Guide or Quality Manual] of all presribed activities will have been properly managed and guaranteed. Such considerations will give rise to a sound investment on the part of the Developer or Investor, if not for the households and communities benefiting from it.

Adopting a New Philosophy

Our natural resources are fast depleting. Luxury is to be measured in the new terms, i.e. open space is no longer considered wasteful, rather a measure of success, a new paradigm in town and country planning. Significantly we are aiming at returning the park concept to neighbourhoods. Open space and high density are designed to be mutually beneficial as we find tall buildings fast becoming a formula for a quality urban design strategy - without question. We need to write into our Design Guides that development parcels must adopt high rise buildings, as many as possible. With this increased density, we emphasize the resultant open space and parkland as key features to the Scheme. Cash flow benefits to adopting this strategy are obvious, as indeed the reduced footprint or plinth area, yet another bonus to the development. As Project efficiency rises, and the site deterioration is brought to minimum we have the beginnings of a new philosophy to the business of delivering development products at the scale that all enterprise must aspire to embark upon. The second equally important agenda for the project is one of delivering the framework but not the finish products. This is an environmentally sound investment plan for both developer as well as investor. The final definition is held by end user, the masterplan is defined in its final form by actuality and not design.

About Being Green

This primer can benefit any developer in terms of measurable impacts on the environment from the word go. In business terms it is already very substantial what developments such as this can contribute to a corporation's positioning in the global market. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development will define how such activities and projects can add to the overall management of world resources abut more precisely the communities and households derived from such development. A fundamental change must immediately take place for the business operations side as well as how they wish to be perceived and how they wish the development to work as a marketing tool for their larger vision of embracing the green policy. One of the ways to promote this ideology is to use recyclable materials and engage only the most sustainable materials in every aspect of construction from start to finish. An urban Design Guide is adopted to control the implementation of all buildings for all future developments.

Another good reason why this blueprint or primer can make a big difference is the underlying concept of letting Nature inform the any or all of the built work that is to be derived from the masterplan. The built form and the supporting infrastructure of the plan makes borrowing everything from Nature essential to best protect any investment. What is to be achieved in a green masterplan is the experience and not the design.

Implementation is Everything

It is extremely important to ascertain from the onset that the mix must have been well investigated and researched to deliver the commercial aims of the Development. Each product within the masterplan must have been well defined, by economists but also Architects and Designers, and then programmed carefully to be delivered to as prescribed in a project schedule [in which other term is known as phased]. Here is actually the crux: The success of the masterplan is simply its execution, more than its concept, reflecting a an exacting calculated form at each phase of the work, delivered to condition the development to achieve a certain density at the right time, and a certain flavour or character at any one given time. This is how it needs to be phased, not against some commercial agenda, although strictly speaking this is also a note-worthy consideration. They are not at all mutually exclusive. Demographic studies and physiological and other socio-ecological maps of the development are tracked and retraced until final stages of the development has been accomplished. This so called Blueprint is time mapped and appraised through a development wide design manual and development guide, serving as a monitoring device throughout all of the implementation phase. We also expect each phase to morph and evolve almost organically and with measured and calculated unpredictability. If the masterplan achieves its target prematurely so much the better. If we exceed its target any given time, whereas the built form or the urban plan has not achieved the final stages of completion as planned, the project would have reached maturity in advance of its due completion, and this would be totally acceptable result. At each phase of the work the project data is fed back into an intelligence programme which decides its final fate, whose form we can expect to differ greatly from the original.

zlgdesign blog hits 115,000 readers

we now have over 115,000 unique readers of our blog at wordpress. this is a record number of followers indeed, this day. we hope to keep everyone updated soon with site photographs of several new projects, the most recently completed work is the lee residence in petaling jaya, and the government sponsored projects for the challenge park, in putrajaya.

a late evening view

This instant we are exploring bravely with our good clients to next steps towards making point 92 a white gleaming sculpture, opaline, and glittering with light. Not yet completely resolved is the external lighting: we continue to explore white light, and we investigate internal lighting for the elevated courtyard, the other iconic feature of this humble office building. The approach level, aligned to the arrival point is most brightly illuminated to mark the main entrance.

lee residence

view from neighbouring lots

David Lee residence is one of those smaller but more important projects we do simply because of the opportunity to test ideas, and also to put forth a theory for colours, materials and their compositional complexity that can be reduced to a more simple form. Built to a very tight budget, the projects demonstrates how typical residential buildings can be made to look totally ordered without losing their charm as complex structures with complex design briefs, in particular private houses. This 5,000 sqft bungalow will be a leased property, designed to meet with a very broad market expectations without loosing its unique personality. Now already in the second year of construction, the project is looking very reductive in design, completely devoid of any 'stylistic' notions, completely in keeping wth the spirit of making his a simple, budget conscious, natural finished minimal piece of work.


sketch detail of balcony ©2008.huatlim

point92 has been modelled on fundamental elements, one of which consist of a balcony shared between many floors of office space. The white cladding is finished in great contrast to the more natural and vegetated external space, carved out of this luminous envelope. As many as 6 floors have a view of this vertical space, in which animated lighting can be introduced and much outdoor activities can take place, a grand break out area, protected from the elements by rainscreen and such like cladding designs. To eliminate the need to bend the floors the planting strategy for this area takes the form of a simple potted tree, or a bench, which can be rotated and re-arranged at will; plants are located to face west.

climbing centre

the climbing centre facade openings

As we proceed to add the internal finishes and make good repairs and tidying up the M/E we see the building slowly completing in phases, the ceiling is undergoing review for enhancements of the specifications, and we are also tending to the need to place plants and more external lighting in readiness for operations to come into place. The facade looks incredibly white and bright from the lightweight blockwork [CSR panels] that used for the skin of the climbing hall. Horizontal slots seen from afar are vents mounted flush to the wall, these serve to let fresh air and daylight to come through to the hall, whereas some are for natural ventilation in case the air conditioning system is turned off at off peak hours to save energy.

skatepark entrance now lit up and ready
for nighttime activities

At this time we are seeing the electrification of all the buildings an surrounding landscape, and also installation of the skate bowl and the specialist works. Interior decoration and Fit out works to the offices and administrative rooms are underway, and the final touches to internal building signages commence in the next weeks. The bold articulation of the eaves remain a pronounced feature of the building and th eslender columns amplify the philosophy of keeping everthig minimal and bare.

view from across the highway approaching the town centre

Point 92's latest edition, white armadillo, or however we wish to name it, has a large interconnecting void that offers lush greenery and landscaped courtyards that slowly climb around the corner of the building. These are break out areas , planted with trees, that are to be used as roof terraces. From here it is possible for engineers to design systmes to bring in fresh air for a naturally ventilated atmospheric condition. The 'hole' is made large enough to be seen from afar, we think at night it can be lit by a number of different ways.

approach view of p92 ©2008.zlgdesign

Point 92 now to be named 'porcupine" or otherwise the armadillo, is lovingly seen from the running tracks and jogging trails surrounding the still green neighbourhood of damansara perdana, one of the last remaining enclave in petaling jaya offering very high quality investments for retail and commercial buildings. The sales target are very high but we can expect good publicity from this eye-popping 'iconic' design. Some have called this the Gucci Handbag....

night view of skatepark: entrance steps

At night we see the effect of the ceiling floating above the open plan of the skate park. The columns have been designed to be as slender as possible, supporting the lightweight metal roof. Lighting consists of randomly placed fixtures recessed into waterproofed cement boards.

image of point92 with
elevated courtyards ©2008.zlgdesign

Whilst we work towards tightening the budget on this project a new direction has evolved: to cut out facade for areas where we don't really need it and enhance the presence of balconies and elevated external terraces on the elevation. This is likely to bring down construction costs, but more importantly it should also reduce heat build up inside these tall atriums given that we do not wish to use any form of mechanical fans or venting systems to provide convective cooling to these areas.

Carving out the atrium into the building block as is now the case brings about better internal lighting, and should furhter reduce glare, and help cut electricity consumption greatly due to the deeper penetration of daylight into the floor plans.

late evening view of point92 facade study ©2008.zlgdesign

The simple 11 storey high skin of point92 is shown here made from small panels of three different materials; wood, glass and cement boards are arranged randomly on a metallic frame. The total facade area of 8,000 sqm will be articulated with multi-storey atriums and high ceilinged voids and vast balconies beyond this layer of glass and wood. Estimated cost is around USD 100 per m2.

view of tower with podium and canopy concept ©2008.zlgdesign

Onyx is a new tower with 5-storey specialty retail podium, rising to nearly 40 stories, the tower will house boutique hotel-managed offices with KLCC views. Accessible from 5 minutes walk from the Petronas Towers and the nearby LRT Stations of KLCC and Jalan Sultan Ismail. The prestigious location gaurantees explicit identity and exposure to retailers and office workers alike. The targetted podium retail revenue and GDV comes close to USD60 million. The open plan offices will be let and managed by hospitality managers offering the best services in the region.

see also point92 and kenanga ©2008.zlgdesign

kresidence facade detail: photo taken 2008

Kresidence has a very finely detailed facade design comprising two layers of transparent glazing at full height. The top part above the penthouse is an elegant layer in aluminium louvres to conceal water tanks and services. Perforated facade skins allow apartment living rooms to open out to the wide balconies outside offering great views to KLCC Petronas Towers and the surrounding cityscape. Glazing material is adequately soundproofed, and reflective in some parts. The soffit is of cement boards, painted RAL 9010 white, with recessed ceiling lights.

Parcel one celebrates nature in all forms, vast open terraces, leisurely covered forested walkways and secret gardens, some more elevated some sunken and more intimate than others. Four majestic towers offer views into the centre stage of kenny heights a celebrated design comprising elegant drop-off points and the signature piazza, iconic in its landscaping concept simply because it is powerful enough to pull together upto 70 acres of high density developments. Parcel one is perhaps the only development with a terraced car park structure with more than 600 metres worth of brilliantly designed elevation, carved and undulated on all the three sides, the roofs bending and folding to let daylight into the lower decks where over 1200 cars are parked, needing very little wayfinding devices, but also able to frame views into other immediately adjoining parcels in particular the hospitality and retail segments. Such is the excitement of this development given its curvilinear plan and geometry.

White and crystalline glass and facade details emanate sophisticated ivory-like towers, the paired tower arrangement greets the arriving visitor and resident with symmetrical grandeur, the gentle sweeping of the ingress routes take a gradually rising road network around the extremities to arrive quickly at the lobbies, whereupon public realm begins to engage the open landscape. Centred on this lushly vegetated deck are pools of water, and twin daylighting eyelids, soft mounds and folds of greenery that shape the receding and blurred edge of the deck, altogether making this no less a forest in its own right. sculpted pieces and old banyan trees mark the otherwise spare landscape.

High spec lifts take residents up the towers, all rising to no less than 250 metres, a mix of medium sized apartments and super penthouses with private pools and resort ensuite master bedrooms, accessible directly from the ground floor. Upto 5 lifts serve each tower, total privacy is gauranteed to all of the units, some with more than one access. Many units enjoy living rooms with panaromic views of up to 12m of glazing, whereas others enjoy double height glazing of the most impressive proportions. the end units boasts all round views, every room has a view, every room a master suite in its own right. No two apartments are exactly alike, the unit mix guarantees that each investment bears unsurpassed individuality, design and character.

roofline view skatepark

PutraJaya's Skate Park has a roof-line ridge design that is made from steel channel, welded connection, painted and mechanically fixed to roof edge. Slender columns support the big roof, with white painted cement board soffits. Much of the entrance is kept very simple with wash aggregate and cement finishes applied to almost all of the visible surfaces including ramps and the steps leading to the elevated arrival point.

skatepark entrance view

The ramp leading up to the elevated levels of the skate park looks into an arrival area with high ceilings, with the car park drop off and entrance to the right. Early photos show the planting of trees as part of the larger landscape strategy to reinstate all of the trees removed at the beginning of construction. Sports persons and VIP personnel take the route below this deck through a tunnel leading to the Skate Facility on the opposite side. Beyond this point we see the hills separating this facility from the second building which is the Climbing centre.

model of tower and foreground boulevard

Miri Towers were designed as pair of gateway buildings, each one for separate clients. The boulevard leads to the waterfront city, and will have landscaped streets and recreational activities throughout its entire length. The towers are designed to be green, the upper levels open up to terraces and decks that have lush trees and courtyards planted to give a natural forest ambiance. The towers are designed also with a high ceiling for the recption floor with an immaculately detailed soffit whose designs are inspried from the hull and keel of boats.