Winners showcase innovative ideas
24 Sep 2019 | TheEdge

It isn’t every day that architects can stretch their imaginations to produce something that is not restricted by a client or things like cost and space. At the Housing 4.0 Design Competition, organised by Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia (PAM) and Gamuda Industrial Building Systems Sdn Bhd (Gamuda IBS), they were able to do just that,  while using the digital Industrialised Building System (IBS).

The competition started in April and was open to all PAM members, architecture students, consortiums and multi-disciplinary teams. It was aimed at creating awareness within the construction industry and among designers of the benefits of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and digital IBS technology.

Some 111 registrants signed up and there were 74 submissions. The judging panel comprised local and international professionals, who had the unenviable task of narrowing down the submissions to the final five. After that, the finalists were interviewed by the judges to explain their design concepts as well as take part in innovation labs at Gamuda IBS’ Banting factory.

The winners were announced on Sept 10 at Publika, Solaris Dutamas, Kuala Lumpur. Deputy Minister of Housing and Local Government Datuk Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah Raja Ahmad Baharuddin Shah, himself an architect, was guest of honour.

He believes this competition is a step forward to improving the housing situation in the country. “I am hopeful that initiatives such as the Housing 4.0 Design Competition will provide us with a more holistic approach that takes into account all factors, such as construction safety, speed of construction, cost, quality and efficiency in design as well as utilisation of labour.

“The Housing 4.0 Design Competition is intended to reinvent the designs of future Malaysian housing through the use of the Industrialised Building System and Building Information Modelling, in line with the National Housing Policy 2019 that targets to build one million affordable homes in the next 10 years,” he said.

The three winners and two honourable mentions received cash prizes at the event. Honourable mentions, with a RM15,000 cash prize, went to Syihan Amir Office and Veritas Architects Sdn Bhd. Qhawarizmi Architect (with Praktika Architects Sdn Bhd & MDRXA) came in third, receiving RM30,000. Second place went to GSD Architect with a cash prize of RM40,000 and the winner was GDP Architects Sdn Bhd, which was awarded RM80,000.

The organising committee was headed by architect and PAM member Ang Chee Cheong and Gamuda IBS general manager Tan Ek Khai.

“The quality of the submissions was high. And I am delighted with the finalists because there were two big companies, one medium-sized company and two small companies. This shows that creativity and imagination are not restricted to how big your office is and that it can come from anybody,” said Ang.

“We want a situation where everyone can contribute to a national project. If we do affordable housing and frame the issues properly, this is the largest megaproject the country will have. And if we work with digital tools like IBS we can develop an efficient and effective product that can solve some of the problems with housing.”

Tan said the objective of the competition was to create a greater awareness of how technology is the way forward. “I think at the start of the competition, it was not about a winning prototype per se, but the use of digital tools. The quality of those is reflected in the final submissions because of the use of digital design and BIM, aided by the digital innovation labs that we did with the architects designing these buildings.

“I think, from the results, at the end of the day, it is quite evident that it has been tested and is practicable — the quality reflects that. Obviously, the judges had a tough time in deciding on the winners. But I think the top five gave a good variety in design.”

Three of the nine judges attended the event. Eddie Chan, Gamuda Land executive director, Product Management Unit, said the selection of the shortlisted finalists was challenging and required detailed discussions with each architect to seek out what made their project different.

“I think many of them had similar ideas. So we had to go into greater detail, to look beyond the similarities and look at the individual strengths. During the question-and-answer sessions and the discussions with the other judges, we tried to identify what differentiated many of the submissions,” said Chan.

Ezumi Harzani Ismail, PAM immediate past president, said the competition provided a unique platform for architects to test their ideas to see if they would work.

“After a finalist passed the first stage, there was a second stage — the entrants had to attend a workshop with Gamuda IBS, where they learnt more about the digital IBS system and implemented it in their design. So it wasn’t just a conceptual design and a pretty picture, it had to be possible to build it,” said Ezumi.

Devendran Krishnamoorthy, Gamuda Land general manager, IBS Design, Product Management Unit, said the competition was designed to showcase a blend of skills and expertise. “This is a good example of merging the art and the sciences of architecture. It gave all participants an opportunity to establish a very technical, buildability and constructability angle to all their architecture proposals. This put some constraints on them but those who succeeded, the final five, managed to pull through a lot of the thought process when it comes to constructing in IBS.”

The general parameters of the competition required the participants to create a project that would sit on a 2.64-acre tract within a transit-oriented development (TOD) (refer to competition brief). The land would have a business commercial district to the north, low-rise shop offices and landed housing to the south and an MRT station 150m from the site in the west.

Representing GDP Architects Sdn Bhd, Rashdan Daud, who collected the prize on behalf of his team, said the competition allowed them to push back their own preconceived notions and try to do something different. “Our idea was to create a small footprint and build tall to keep the density high. At the same time, we gave back the grounds to the public. That created a more democratic space. We also created linkways and public spaces linking the MRT station to the surrounding neighbourhood.

“The grounds would be animated at all times of the day and the positioning of the tower on the site was quite specific. We wanted to use the height of the tower to cast a shadow over the public spaces. The tower was positioned on one corner so that, in the afternoon, a long shadow would be cast over the public space, making it less hot and more comfortable.”

One thing that all finalists commented on was how professionally the competition was run and that they hoped there would be more such competitions in the future. Moreover, the visit to Gamuda IBS’ factory was an eye-opener for all of them, giving them a greater awareness of how digital IBS and automation could help solve the country’s housing issues. For more information on the competition, visit

Competition brief

The general design brief and parameters take into account current trends and future projections in terms of lifestyle patterns, building technology and construction, transport use, social diversity and community objectives, sustainable design goals and so on.

  •      Site area : 10,700 sq m (2.64 acres)
  •      Location: a Malaysian city — urban setting
  •      Development type: Residential, transit-oriented development (TOD)
  •     Height limit: NA
  •     Development density: 125 units per acre
  •     Plinth area: 60% maximum
  •     Building setbacks: 6m all around
  •     Total units: 330 (125 x 2.64 ac)
  •     Unit mix: 60% (2-bedroom), 40% (3-bedroom)
  •     Unit size : 2-bedroom, about 700 to 800 sq ft and 3-bedroom, about 950 to 1,050 sq ft, minimum
  •     Efficiency ratio: 70%, minimum
  •     Residents’ facilities: to be proposed by participants
  •     Commercial facilities: to be proposed by participants
  •     GBI rating: minimum GBI Silver
  •     Parking requirements: Cars: 1 car park/2,000 sq ft NFA Motorbikes : 1 bay/2,000 sq ft NFA