Malaysian architects had their “Oscars” night on May 12, at which a “Building of the Year” and gold medal winners in different competition categories were announced.

A collective sigh of relief probably accompanied the announcements ….

At last year’s Pertubuhan Arkitek Malaysia (PAM) Awards, there were no gold medal winners nor a Building of the Year; the latter, Malaysia’s highest architectural honour, was established in 2014 and, counting this year, has only been awarded twice.

PAM sent a message to the industry last year: While there was quality in the projects submitted in 2016, they were lacking in other important aspects, it seems. It was a reminder that these awards are held to promote not only design excellence but also the advancement of a quality built environment with beneficial social, physical, and cultural impacts as well as diversity in Malaysian architecture.

PAM president Mohd Zulhemlee An said last year that the jury had looked for “truly Malaysian architecture”, designs in line with local culture and lifestyles, and didn’t find any deserving of a gold medal in the 121 submissions.

This year, they did, despite receiving fewer entries at 77.

The “Building of the Year” award went to the Twinkle Villa project in Kampung Janda Baik, Bentong, Pahang.

Also notable are the revival of a historical fort and a mosque that challenges design conventions.

This year, 10 categories were open for nominations: Alteration and Addition, Commercial (Low Rise), Conservation, Education, Multiple Residential (Low Rise), Planning and Master Planning, Public and Institutional, Showroom, Single Residential, Sport and Recreation.

All categories had gold or silver medal winners except for the Alteration & Addition and Showroom categories; submissions in these two areas received only Commendation awards.

The 2017 jury comprised Mohd Zulhemlee again, in his position of outgoing PAM president; architect Almaz Salma Abdul Rahim; architectural academician Dr Mariam Jamaludin; and designer Zachary Haris Ong.

Here are the top winners in the eight categories that received medals, and the jury citations. (All photos via PAM.)

Malaysian Architecture Awards

Building of the Year: Twinkle Villa. The villa opens up dramatically towards the woodlands.

Malaysian Architecture Awards

Rimbayu Commercial Hub, Telok Panglima Garang, Selangor; Category: Planning and Master Planning, Gold; Jury Citation: The master plan succeeds in creating a development which emphasises good landscaping and innovative recreational spaces placed in-between the residences and commercial hubs. The man-made water body plays a vital role in stitching together the various components to create place making for the entire community.

Malaysian Architecture Awards

Bangunan Azman Hashim, Universiti Malaya; Category: Education, Gold; Jury Citation: The planning layout is fluid with layers of space flowing and transforming effortlessly into a dynamic external form which stands out and breaks away from the monotony on campus.

Malaysian Architecture Awards

G Hotel Kelawai, Penang; Architect: Architect T.Y. Au; Category: Sport and Recreation, Silver; Jury Citation: By opening itself up to the adjacent public park, the hotel’s lobby lounges on the ground floor encourage pedestrian-friendly activities while also offering a warm welcome – qualities vital to the success of structures designed for the hospitality industry. The tower block, with its irregular window design, perks up the cityscape and skyline.

Malaysian Architecture Awards

Denai Alam Phase J15, Shah Alam; Category: Multiple Residential (Low Rise), Silver; Jury Citation: Pleasant residential estate with garden-like ambience affording generous outdoor living and the allure of indoor comfort.