This year’s announcement of the Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia’s (PAM) annual awards might have sent a few tremors through the field: the jury decided that none of the submissions merited gold awards.

The awards are held to “recognise Malaysian architects who pursue excellence in design, promote the advancement of a quality built environment that has beneficial social, physical and cultural impacts in Malaysia, and to recognise the diversity of Malaysian architecture”.

Gold, Silver and Commendation titles are awarded to deserving projects in categories ranging from private residences to public and commercial spaces. For the 2016 awards announced last month, there were 11 categories, with 121 entries received.

That’s a respectable number of entries. Yet five of the 11 categories did not have any winners at all; and, as mentioned, there wasn’t a single Gold winner.

The jury comprised Mohd Zulhemlee An, PAM president; Datuk Seri Lim Chong Keat, PAM Gold Medallist 1997; Andra Matin, Indonesian award-winning architect; Assoc Prof Dr Azizah Salim, architecture academician; and Rizalman Ibrahim, fashion designer.

According to Mohd Zulhemlee, there was a good number of entries received this year, although there were more submissions received in previous years.

However, the jury felt that none of the entries reached its level of expectations to merit a Gold award.

“The jury looked not only at the design of the buildings but also how they contribute to the state of Malaysian architecture, in terms of how architecture responds to the surrounding environment and Malaysian climate,” Mohd Zulhemlee said in a phone interview.

The jury was seeking “truly Malaysian architecture”, designs in line with local culture and lifestyles.

Mohd Zulhemlee added that while there was quality in the projects submitted, they lacked these other important aspects.

“I hope that members will not be discouraged by the results but be inspired to design projects that work well with our lifestyle, culture, climate and surroundings.

“We have to think about how we as a society want to move forward and how architecture contributes to that,” he said.

The following are the six projects that received awards.

Single Residential

– Silver

Single Residential: Silver - Villa Santubong, Belum Rainforest, Pulau Banding, Perak.(PAM Awards 2016)A split level development, this villa is built around its natural landscape and features three pavilions and a swimming pool at the bottom of the sloped terrain.

Villa Santubong, Belum Rainforest, Pulau Banding, Perak.

Villa Santubong, Belum Rainforest, Pulau Banding, Perak

Yelill Architect

Jury citation: “The design has a freshness and sensitivity to its environment, and is clearly more commendable than other entries.”

Description: A project that respects the natural landscape around it, Villa Santubong is a 557sqm building that occupies 1.6ha of jungle space in the Belum rainforest. By following the natural contours of the land, different space dimensions were created within the entire villa. Incorporating three pavilions, the split-level residence is surrounded by tall trees and thick vegetation. It has an airy set-up, featuring louvred window panes and full-length glass walls. A round concrete swimming pool can be found as one walks to the bottom of the slope.

Multiple Residential, Low-rise

– Silver

Multiple Residential, Low-rise: Silver - 338 U Thant, Kuala Lumpur.(PAM Awards 2016)This low-density project comprises 12 semi-detached units featuring private entrances and individual garden space. — ALBERT LIM KS

338 U Thant, Kuala Lumpur.

338 U Thant, Kuala Lumpur

Ken Wong Architect

Jury citation: “Innovative planning allows private access to each unit, affording privacy; rather inwardly contained, with well-finished externals. Strong design quality of central landscape area.”

Description: These semi-detached units were built to ensure privacy for its residents. There are 12 of the 557sqm semi-detached dwellings located on the project site. Com-pleted last year, the low-density project is arranged in a pattern that allows each unit – which comes with its own garden area – to overlook a central common green belt. A layer of aluminium cladding wraps around the masonry to keep the house cool and to ensure privacy. Public areas can also be opened up to promote cross ventilation. Adjustable screens further allow residents to control the degree of privacy within their own units. Residents enter their units via private basement parking lots, and none of the units’ main entrances face each other.

Interior Design

– Silver

Interior Design: Silver - The Leisure Farm Sales Gallery, Nusajaya, Johor Baru. PAM Awards 2016This open plan sales gallery features a laid-back, relaxed atmosphere that includes a fully functioning kitchen to facilitate parties and events.

The Leisure Farm Sales Gallery, Nusajaya, Johor Baru.

Leisure Farm Sales Gallery, Nusajaya, Johor Baru

Ken Wong Architect

Jury citation: “The project was clearly the most conducive in its function and interior environment; level of attention to details is admirable by comparison with the other entries which were highly variable in quality.”

Description: Leisure Farm’s newly renovated sales gallery features an open-plan design and a laid-back and relaxed atmosphere.

Designed to maximise light penetration with heavy use of glass panels, the space is divided into different settings for the staff to meet with customers. A formal set-up is housed within concrete, private spaces while a more casual area is arranged with high-back sofas. There is also an area where guests can lounge on low sofas. The gallery features a living and dining area, further moving away from the office feel. A bar and a fully functioning kitchen allow events and parties to be held there.

Multiple Residential, High-rise

– Commendation

Multiple Residential, High Rise: Commendation - The Face Platinum, Kuala Lumpur(PAM Awards 2016).The 52-storey Face Platinum Suites serviced apartments and Face Suites hotel features staggered white boxes inside a larger frame which cantilevers to add depth to the facade.

The Face Platinum, Kuala Lumpur.

The Face Platinum, Kuala Lumpur

GDP Architects

Jury citation: “The placement of contrived facades at the location most visible along the elevated highway brings prominence to building amenities on the roof top, maximising the advantages of the down town location.”

Description: The 52-storey Face Platinum Suites serviced apartments and Face Suites hotel offer great views of the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre and the Petronas Twin Towers. The project comprises 533 fully-furnished serviced apartments and 200 units of all-suite hotel rooms. Designed with a double height ceiling lobby, a unique feature of the building is the large, clear glass canopy that wraps the building’s base from the south to the east. The eight-storey elevated carpark are masked by staggered aluminium and glass screens that look like traditional woven ornaments from certain angles. The east and west sides of the building feature staggered white boxes inside a larger frame that cantilevers to add depth to the facade.

Commercial Low-rise

– Commendation

Commercial, Low-rise: Commendation - GarageKL, Ukay Heights, Selangor.(PAM Awards 2016)Using shipping containers as its main building material is GarageKL, a hip meeting place that features retail, craft and food and beverage outlets as well as an automotive service section.

GarageKL, Ukay Heights, Selangor.

GarageKL, Ukay Heights, Selangor

Malek Hassan Architect

Jury citation: “This project displays innovativeness and a sense of fun and adaptability in keeping with its purpose. It is an eye opener that encourages more usage of containers in architectural projects.”

Description: This project employs a creative construction method using shipping containers. The space is a hip and funky meeting place incorporating retail, craft and F&B outlets, as well as an automotive service section. GarageKL is designed as a fun space based on the concept of utilising reusable building materials. The containers are creatively stacked to create different spaces that serve as halls, cafeterias, meeting places and open courtyards. Large overhangs, cross ventilation and cantilevered design features are seen throughout the project.

Commercial High-rise

– Commendation

Commercial, High-rise: Commendation - UNIV 360 Place, Serdang Jaya, Selangor.(PAM Awards 2016) The UNIV 360 Place comprises two blocks of SoFo suites built with a green plot ratio of 60 and features green communal spaces such as pocket gardens, a roof garden and sky lounge.

UNIV 360 Place, Serdang Jaya, Selangor.

UNIV 360 Place, Serdang Jaya, Selangor

Atelier Alan Teh Architect

Jury citation: “Explorative usage of materials and green elements to create spaces and volumes that are interesting and conducive for end users.”

Description: Having to work with an odd-shaped block of land, the architect created two blocks of SoFo (small office, flexible office) suites on a five-storey carpark podium with 18 units of duplex shops on the ground floor. Built to maximise the best views and incorporating solar orientation, the building has a green plot ratio of 60%. It features green communal spaces, such as pocket gardens, a roof garden and sky lounge situated close to the residential units to encourage interaction among residents.