As one drives towards Kompleks Islam Putrajaya, two things stand out: the intricate, lace-like facade screens, and curved arches forming a woven-like roof.

Housing the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim, Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia) offices, the project complements the Government’s vision of making Putrajaya the nation’s administration centre, bringing together all the religious agencies under the Prime Minister’s Office in one central location.

In terms of design, the built form represents a progressive force in Islam.

“The building is inspired by the parable of light in the Holy Quran, specifically in reference to ‘the light verse’ (An Nur 24:35) where the source of light is described as enclosed in crystal, illuminating like a brilliant star.

“It is from this description that the idea to form a dynamic architecture where light penetrates through and into the building is derived from,” says Hud Bakar, director at RSP Architects, via e-mail.

“The synergy between the essence of light, transparency, dynamism, strength, and growth are metaphorically translated into the buildings, which in turn become a statement, a landmark, and most importantly, a representation of Islam’s progressive image,” he adds.

Located in Precinct 3 Putrajaya, the slightly more than 2ha project by RSP Architects was completed in March last year and comprises four blocks located on three different plots of land.

Each plot is connected by pedestrian bridges and corridors, with every block having its own external public plaza and garden where staff can gather and exchange ideas.

“The main plaza is located between Block A and B, where a translucent canopy embraces the space as well as shields it from the elements.

“The main canopy with its decorative semi-vaulting steel structure, simplified into subtly looking pointed-arch substructures, is an interpretation of the decorative Islamic ornaments muqarnas (three-dimensional decorations),” further explains Hud.

Kompleks Islam Putrajaya

A close-up of the arches on the roof reveals beautiful geometry.

Calming water features have also been incorporated into the design; cascading water flows beneath a smaller pavilion that serves as another gathering space. A distinctive umbrella-like canopy marks the main entrance to the auditorium space below.

“What we do not want is another direct interpretation of Islamic architecture. We wanted to create a contemporary architecture that evokes the progressive values of the religion.

“We wanted visitors to identify that the building is related to Islam through an reinterpretation of architectural elements, for example, the arches, the screen (mashrabiya), the play of lights and transparency, the courtyards (sehan), and the flowing water feature in the central pavilion (howz),” he says.

The buildings’ external screens are designed in geometrical motifs and showcase Islamic geometric patterns of the eight-point star. They function as privacy screens as well as reduce heat and glare from the sun.

On top of the buildings, steel pillars form intricate arches with trellises that shade the roof garden. The roof design reduces heat gain by using plants and gardens, while trellises and screens are fitted to filter natural light and glare, and reduce direct sunlight and heat gain.

The complex has been registered by the Certified Green Building Index status, as the project implemented green construction practices such as recycling 75% of the total volume of construction waste.

The buildings optimise the use of glazing to encourage natural light penetration and at the same time maximise the view from the outside.

There is a rainwater harvesting system in place for the use of landscape irrigation while in the car park areas and toilets, motion sensor lightings are installed.