IN the face of rapid urban development, architects need to be smart and innovative not only in their design, but also in providing solutions to create sustainable smart cities.
For example, Malaysian Institute of Architects (PAM) director Ezumi Harzani Ismail said, with limited space in cities, architects should provide a strategy on how to plan an efficient development.
“PAM focuses on delivering a balance between the needs of the community, or humans, and the environment, or planet.
“Its continuous effort in advocating a good design culture and promoting responsible architecture have improved the awareness and thinking of its members and the public towards sustainable design.
“Built environment has an impact on social and economic growth. It has the potential to disrupt Mother Nature if it is not controlled. It is the responsibility of architects to design and plan built structures and spaces to form an equilibrium between the needs of humans and nature.”
PAM former president Tan Sri Esa Mohamed said community engagement and understanding technological innovations were criteria for successful architects.
“Humans are gifted with the ability to create and innovate. It is a matter of how creative or innovative one is.
“At a young age, one has some talent to draw, create or invent. It is the art of converging our sensory perceptions to invent or create spaces and structures that not only make life better, but also stimulate others to enjoy it,” he said, adding that this art was called architecture or design.
He said students studying architecture must not forsake this power of creation that stemmed from their natural sensory tools for machines, adding that they had to hone their proficiency in drawing, sculpturing and model making with their hands.
“They (architectural students) have to learn from the community, to engage it and understand its needs. Working with the people helps one to be sensitive and relevant.”
He said that it was important for them to learn the tools of the trade, including technological advancements in the building industry.
“The advancement in Building Information Modeling, Industrialised Building System as well as the potential in big data analytics and artificial intelligence will influence perception of architecture.
“The symbiosis of natural creativity and technological innovations can be one of the solutions to architecture.”
Experience, he added, can provide important lessons for architects and hone their skills.
“Having given the opportunity to continue my studies in Australia in 1968 through Mara, I was determined to show that we can do the best if we put our hearts and minds into it and focus on our studies. As a result, I was the best in the School of Architecture and Built Environment at the University of Newcastle in Australia.
“I got my Bachelor of Architecture (Hons Class 1) and the University Gold Medal award. It was inspirational to me then and I wanted to do more.
“Coming back to Malaysia, after completing my Master’s degree in Town and Country Planning in 1976, I was given the chance to work with the late Goh Hock Guan, a prolific architect and town planner. I learnt a lot from this talented and principled man.”
Esa’s career records his involvement in major and innovative projects that mark the country’s modernisation and development, including Mid Valley City, Sunway Lagoon, the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Sungai Buloh Hospital, Pagoh Higher Education Hub and other master plan projects, locally and internationally.
He is former chairman of Architects Regional Council Asia, Asean Architects Council and the immediate past president of the International Union of Architects, with headquarters in Paris.
Ezumi’s journey into architecture began with inspiration from his great-grandfather, who used to build timber houses.
“I was encouraged to study architecture by my late father and my highschool arts teacher, who recognised my talent in arts.
“Later, I discovered architecture’s uniqueness, the symbiosis of art and science that built up my interest in it.”
After obtaining his Bachelor of Architecture from Universiti Sains Malaysia and working for a few years, Ezumi joined Arkitek MAA Sdn Bhd, one of the biggest architectural practices in Kuala Lumpur, as a design architect in 1997.
He passed the LAM professional examination, or the LAM Part 3 examination, in 2001 and was registered as a LAM-approved architect a year later. Shortly after that, he was made an associate director of Arkitek MAA and later became a partner and director of the company in 2005.
“In my career as an architect with Arkitek MAA, I was involved in various types of projects, including hospitals, hotels, government office buildings, and am working on high-rise residential and mass rapid transit projects.
“Among the memorable projects that I was involved in was Hospital Pusrawi in Jalan Tun Razak. I was working on the job when recession hit the country and the client decided to stop the project after the basement work was completed. In the end, we were given the option to resume the project only if we were able to reduce the construction cost by RM30 million.
“I had to redo the whole design and planning to make the space more efficient. Of course, we had to compromise on certain areas, such as by reducing the number of wards and size of facilities, but we kept the hospital fully functional. After a few months of such engineering exercise, the client agreed with our proposal and the project was completed in 2005.”
On how students can be nurtured to be great architects, Ezumi said it could be done through competition and award programmes.
“By having these kind of initiatives, we may inspire students to have a sense of responsibility for built environment and the desire to create excellent architecture.
“These platforms will provide them with the opportunity to express their creativity and critical-thinking skills.
“Apart from that, we encourage young talent to visit talks, exhibitions and conferences as they are our way to transfer knowledge and educate them on the role of architects. For example, we encourage students to attend forums and talks by PAM on fire safety as architects play a pivotal role in ensuring that buildings are safe.”
The annual PAM Student Awards this year, the institute announced that at the PAM Silver and Bronze Awards would be awarded to top Malaysian architecture students, locally and abroad, who had completed an architecture course in the immediate preceding year or would be completing an architecture course in the present year.
The Awards aim to demonstrate the commitment of PAM and the benefactor to architectural design excellence by recognising achievements by students of architecture and design, and to introduce these students to the profession and the industry.
Submission for the PAM Student Awards will close on April 22. The award ceremony will be held in July.
“The objective of PAM Student Awards is to promote scholarship, innovation, merit and excellence in the study of architecture among youth. It aims to demonstrate the commitment and investment of both PAM and benefactor Tan Sri Esa Mohamed to architectural design excellence by awarding outstanding achievements at Part 1 and 2 architecture graduates.
“I hope that the Awards will inspire the next generation of architects to provide designs and solutions for our rapidly changing and complex environment in Malaysia and other parts of the world.
“I also hope this will encourage more students to unveil their hidden talents. I want them to be prolific in their ideas about designs that will benefit society. I want clients and developers to learn that there are talented architects and designers in Malaysia who are world-class.”