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Kuala Lumpur's Skyline |© Pixabay
Kuala Lumpur's Skyline |© Pixabay

8 Malaysian Architects You Should Know

Picture of Cassandra Naji
Cassandra Naji
Updated: 5 December 2016
With buildings such as the breath-taking Petronas Towers dominating Kuala Lumpur’s skyline, it’s no surprise to find that Malaysia is home to some of Asia’s most exciting contemporary architects. While aware of the nation’s history and heritage, these eight architects nonetheless look to the future in their work, creating sustainable, ‘glocal’ projects that capture the complexity and richness of Malaysia today, one of the fastest growing nations in the region.
 

Eleena Jamil

UK-educated Eleena Jamil is one of Malaysia’s foremost female architects and works on a diverse range of projects both large and small with her practice Eleena Jamil Architect (EJA), which she formed in 2005. Whether creating housing for areas affected by flooding or re-thinking the ideal educational space with her award-winning Desa Mahkota secondary school design, Jamil creates strong shapes inspired by the simplicity of modernism but designed to be both eminently practical and comfortable.

Desa Mahkota, Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Malaysia Pavilion at the Venice Biennale for International Architecture, co-curated by Lim Teng Ngoim | © Nico Saieh
Malaysia Pavilion at the Venice Biennale for International Architecture, co-curated by Lim Teng Ngoim | © Nico Saieh

 

Lim Teng Ngiom

Architect and academic Lim Teng Ngiom is perhaps one of Malaysia’s most erudite designers, and Ngiom Partnership website reads like a tome on critical theory, complete with extracts from Wittgenstein. He’s an architect who is not afraid of theory or abstraction: co-curating the national pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale for International Architecture, Ngiom chose to focus on ‘sufficiency’, re-interpreting the eco-theme through a variety of creative architectural installations.

 

Courtesy Seksan Design
Courtesy Seksan Design

 

Ng Sek San

Landscape architecture can sometimes seem like architecture’s unpopular relation, but Ng Sek San brings the practice into the limelight. In almost 20 years as director of Seksan Design, Sek San has found a balance between the uncompromising world of buildings and the organic natural environment. Working exclusively on Kuala Lumpur projects, he believes that local works can better understand the local context: from bicycle lanes to offices in parkland, Sek San strives to make Kuala Lumpur a more liveable and cohesive city.

Malaysia Pavilion, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, +60 3-2118 8833

 

 

Che Wee Boon

As president of the country’s professional architectural body, Che Wee Boon – of GRA Architects – is an influential voice in Malaysian architecture. Boon is no mere bureaucrat however, he’s also an innovative and creative designer in his own right, as attested by his curatorship of the Malaysia Pavilion at 2012’s Venice Biennale for International Architecture. A green architecture specialist, Boon advocates buildings that are ‘responsible and sustainable, and provide for our needs without compromising the ability of our future generation(s) to provide for themselves.’

 

Hijjas Kasturi

Singapore-born Hijjas Kasturi has had a hand in creating some of the most striking buildings on the Kuala Lumpur skyline, including the Menara Telecom Tower. Dubbed ‘Malaysia’s first architect hero’ by fellow practitioner Lim Teng Ngiom, Kasturi has won many awards over the years, including Malaysia’s highest architecture accolade the PAM Gold Medal. With an interest in the aesthetics of industrial design, Kasturi has also created a center for architecture and nature conservation at his home in Rimbun Dahan.

Kamil Merican

A founding partner of GDP Architects, perhaps the country’s foremost contemporary architecture firm, Kamil Merican is a leading voice on the country’s design scene. Working closely with firms such as Foster + Partners, GDP has won a clutch of awards, including the coveted Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2007 for the Universiti Teknologi Petronas. Merican himself splits his time between the firm and lecturing in Malaysian universities.

 

 

Ken Yeang

‘I am an ecologist first, and an architect second’, says Ken Yeang. This commitment to sustainability has seen Yeang recognised as the country’s most influential ecodesigner – an advocate for green design at its best. His Central Library building in Kuala Lumpur is emblematic of his practice: the structure is conceived of as a living system built to interact ‘intelligently’ with its environment. This kind of innovation saw Yeang tipped as ‘one of the 50 people who could save the planet’ by The Guardian.

 

 

Kenneth Yeh

Specializing in environmentally focused architectural projects, Kenneth Yeh designs buildings that speak directly to Malaysian vernacular architecture whilst making the most of new technologies. Zooming back and forth between his practices in Sydney and Kuala Lumpur, Yeh and his work/life partner Carol Marra (Marra + Yeh Architects)have had a hand in innovative projects such as The Spiral – a curving residential structure based on the craft and skill of Malaysian boat builders designed to promote the interaction of people and their environment.