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Sarawakian architects win ‘Langit’ architecture competition

Paku Kubok
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg presenting a plaque to Langit winner Jacinta Yii of Yii KE Architect, as HSL Managing Director Dato Yu Chee Hoe (middle) looks on. Her design collaborator for the contest, Alan Kueh, attended virtually.

KUCHING: An eco-friendly 18-storey mixed-use commercial building design clinched Langit‘s top prize for Sarawakian architects Jascinta Yii and Alan Kueh.

Practising in Kuching and Melbourne respectively, Yii and Kueh’s joint submission included public spaces, offices, apartments, plant nurseries — all designed with inter-generational living in mind.

Judges called the entry “impactful, providing high-density, yet adaptable multi-generational living and
working units”. It was also praised for promoting ideas of sustainable living with urban farming as a
feature.

Langit: Reaching for greater heights in design and living

Langit is Sarawak’s first ever national architecture contest. Hock Seng Lee, in collaboration with Next
Phase (HSL-NP), intends to build one of the winners. The project site is a compact 0.78acres at a strategic
location within Kuching’s central business district.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg announced the results at HSL Tower here on
August 7.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg (middle) with HSL-NP directors (from left) Tony Yu, Simon Lau, Datuk Yu Chee Hoe and Yu Ji.

“The Sarawak Government enjoys a close relationship with architects. This is clear to see in our urban
planning, public parks and institutional buildings. In Sarawak, we know cities are made for people and the
people make good cities. We know that development plans must start from the human level,” Abang Johari said.

“My friends at HSL-NP codenamed this competition Langit because in Bahasa Sarawak, ‘Lang’ means
door, and in Malay, Langit is the sky. We want to reach for greater heights together. I hope Langit will be
the prototype of, not only a new building, but a new way of thinking about development.”

Different strengths, different messages


Second place went to Just Architecture, third place to MOA Architects, and two honourary mentions to UT
Moh Architect and Arkitek LH Wong. Their designs ranged from futuristic vertical farms to 39-storey
skyscrapers.

The third-place winner, MoA Architects, uniquely, is a twin tower designed using a plot-ratio system. This
planning method is similar to those used in regional megacities like Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and
Bangkok.

The plot-ratio system allowed MOA Architects’ entry to have a large and meaningful public space at the
lower levels.

Cash prizes for the top five totalled RM200,000.

The judging process was anonymous. Jury members comprised Malaysian Institute of Architects (PAM) president Datuk Ezumi Harzani, PAM Sarawak immediate past chairman Ivy Jong, Veritas Architects director Lilian Tay, multi-award winner and conservationist Mike Boon, and developer HSL-NP representative Yu Ji.

Impactful, accessible: Yii and Kueh’s ‘Cloud Forest’ scheme showed the most well rounded solution to the criteria sought by Langit judges. Engaging and refreshing, the design was very relevant to future proofing in the new norm post Covid-19 pandemic, and encapsulated the ideas of sustainable living featuring the concept of urban farming and promoting occupants self-sufficiency with opportunity for public and community engagements at multiple levels.

Challenging convention in the heart of Kuching city

“Many of the design ideas challenge conventional expectations and demonstrated refreshing approaches
in place-making in the context of Kuching. A majority of the submissions displayed clear commitment to
social and environmental sustainability,” said Jong, who was jury chair.

“The shortlisted schemes pushed various aspects of design ideas thinking and juries were impressed by
the creativity, approach and thoughts demonstrated.”

In 2021, there have been just two architecture competitions in the whole of Malaysia. The first was for
design the facade of a train station between Johor and Singapore. That competition, which the Johor
Sultan was the patron, concluded in February.

Langit began in March. Participants comprised some of Malaysia’s best known firms, including TR Hamzah
& Yeang, Design Network Architects, Dr Tan LM and Form Zero — all winners of national design accolades.
HSL-NP is the project site land owner and and competition sponsor.

HSL’s current HQ is the first privately built Green Building Index certified office in Sarawak. Located at the
200-acre La Promenade, it is the only Sarawak development to win the trifecta of awards from developers,
landscapers and architects’ institutes.

For more info, visit langitkch.com, hsl.com.my or search #LangitKch and @hslcn on social media