As the national professional institute representing architects in this country, it is the Malaysian Institute of Architects’ job to support its members by growing the field. One such effort to keep the practice of architecture fresh was the first 30 Under 40 exhibition, first held in 2011 to promote the works of professionals under the age of 40.
Highlighting innovative works by younger practitioners is one way of ensuring the practice of architecture in the country does not stagnate by relying on the same veteran names to keep things going.
In a follow-up to that inaugural exhibition, the institute is holding the 30 Under 40: Revisited 2015 exhibition at Atelier Art Space in Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Revisited 2015 highlights the latest works of the architects who had participated in that first exhibition.
PAM (the institute is better known by the acronym of its name in Malay, Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia) president Mohd Zulhemlee An explains that the exhibition showcases how the architects’ works have matured and how they have contributed to the nation’s development in the past few years.
“Architecture isn’t merely about designing pretty houses. It zooms in on understanding spaces and the occupants of those spaces and meeting public requirements of health and safety. Over the years, these architects have developed new philosophies and added a new level of sophistication in their work,” he said during the launch of the exhibition on World Architecture Day on Oct 5.
The exhibition features futuristic designs for private residence commissions, commercial projects and green buildings. While the works of each architect may spin out in different outlooks and concepts, the common denominator is that the designs are bold, contemporary and sustainable judging by the models, concept drawings and photos of works exhibited.
Moving away from the run-of-the-mill are eye-catching public and community buildings such as Green Bin Autism, Green School Seputeh in Kuala Lumpur designed by Michael Ching and The Garage in KL, an open-air urban lifestyle centre and automotive culture venture by Malek Hassan. What makes both projects unique is they utilise shipping containers in an innovative way.
Green Bin Autism’s architectural properties allow users to observe and explore the living environment; the design also creates an outdoor learning classroom. According to Ching, it provides an ideal setting for autistic children.
“The land has been provided as a charity project for two years. So we needed to design a temporary building that can be easily re-built on another site after the tenancy. Containers and other steel structures are used for that purpose, as they are reusable and recyclable,” says the 41-year-old.
Architect Kiat Tung explains that exhibitions like Revisited 2015 provide homegrown architects with an avenue to highlight their products, which are on par with international designers.
“The exhibition enables young architects to come to the forefront as the next driving force of architecture in Malaysia. We hope to showcase our works to potential clients both locally and internationally,” says the award-winning architect, who picked up PAM’s 2014 award (in the low rise commercial category) for his work on Setia Ecohill sales gallery.
For the event, Tung has showcased the Picasso Residences in Kuala Lumpur, his commercial project that draws inspiration from the art of painter Pablo Picasso.
“Architecture is an art form in its own right. Much like artists who approach a blank canvas, I draw inspiration from a variety of sources such as artist Picasso and, in some cases, nature and its surrounding. Ideas are everywhere especially with Internet nowadays. The challenge is to put myself in the right frame of mind to pick them up,” says Tung, 41, who specialises in creating sustainable architecture with functional aesthetics.
In a male-dominated industry, it is nice to see the works of women being highlighted. Chang Ye Shin of Y’Shin Architecture is one of two women architects featured in the exhibition.
“Women are capable of creating architectural wonders that are as good as their male counterparts. The key to success is all about determination, hard work and a touch of luck, nothing to do with gender,” says Chang, whose designs The Park at Bukit Serdang and The Starz at Sg Besi, are showcased in the exhibition.
Chang, who specialises in high rise buildings, finds it a thrill to create designs to suit contemporary living.
“Houses and apartments tend to be smaller these days compared to yesteryear. While it can be a challenge to design affordable homes within compact spaces, architects constantly need to push the envelope further to come up with designs to meet the demands of customers,” says the 42-year-old Johorean who clinched the Asia Pacific Award for Best Residential Award for two consecutive years (2013 and 2014) for her work on Latitude in Subang Jaya, Selangor and The Park in Serdang, Selangor.
The exhibition also features proposed designs for an international school FTL Global School and MaGIC Monument, a landmark of Malaysian Global Innovation & Creative Centre by dyslexic architect Sarly Adre Sarkum, 40.
Despite his reading disability, Sarkum persevered and never gave up his dream to be a designer. The secret, says the award-winning architect, is to focus on a solution, not problem.
“Regardless of the issue – be it dyslexia or other disabilities – have faith. As an innovative designer and architect, I prefer to focus more on the solution and think beyond the norm or the proverbial ‘box’,” he says.
“Strength never comes from what you can do, it always comes from overcoming what you can’t,” adds the founder of KL-based Sarly Adre Sarkum Architecture, which specialises in hybrid architectural design solutions, sustainability, and zero carbon developments.
Check out the exhibition for the works of the other 26 architects featured.
30 Under 40: Revisited 2015 will be showcased till Oct 24 at Atelier Art Space, 3rd Floor, Block D, Jaya One, Jalan Universiti, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Opening hours: 10am-6pm (weekdays) and 10am-2pm (Saturdays). For details, visit pam.org.my.