Build­ing of light

The de­sign of the Kom­pleks Is­lam Pu­tra­jaya re­flects a pro­gres­sive force in Is­lam.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Spaces - By WONG LI ZA star2@thes­

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.

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.

The main canopy with its dec­o­ra­tive semi-vault­ing steel struc­ture mak­ing ref­er­ence to the muqar­nas. — Pho­tos: RSP Ar­chi­tects

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

(Left and above) The wo­ven-like roof with trel­lises and ge­o­met­ri­cally-de­signed screens. Steel pil­lars form the arches that rise up to hold the screens that shade the roof gar­den.

The roof gar­den spa­ces.

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