Architect's Perspective

Ken Yeang and His Take on Ecological Architecture

Architect Ken Yeang realized in the middle of a project that the building they were designing looked nothing more than what a regular engineer would be capable of. So what exactly was the role of an architect?

This particular thought provoked him to take up research on ecological design and planning. Today, Ken Yeang, architect, planner, ecologist and author, is one of the pioneers in the field of ecology and climate based architecture.

All of Ken Yeang’s works have an ecology-based approach and design with a very beautiful green aesthetic. These buildings further have very high energy ratings.

Ken Yeang’s Project Philosophies

1. The Colour Green

As mentioned earlier, one of the most striking features of Ken Yeang’s works is the greenery encouraged in the design itself.

2. Orientation

The orientation of the buildings is something to be noticed in all of Yeang’s buildings. The major openings and even the facedes always face away from the sun and radiation. Despite this, the interiors are mostly lit using natural daylight.

3. Climate Responsiveness

Regardless of the site conditions all of Ken Yeang’s projects make use of the local climate as much as possible.

4. Innovative Green Structures

Yeang’s buildings often have elements like sky courts and bridges which contribute both to the aesthetic and ecological aspects of the buildings he designs.

Buildings Designed by Ken Yeang

1. Roof-roof House, Ampang, Malaysia

The roof-roof house, as the name suggests, is a residence with two distinctly shaped roofs. This building is also where the architect himself resides.

Climate Responsive Strategies

  • The double roofs are placed in such an angle to provide shade from the tropical sun and to redirect the cool breeze.
  • The building is oriented north-south to reduce heat and solar gain.
  • The living room and pool areas face the south-east direction to take advantage of the prevailing winds.

Energy Efficient Technology

  • Movable panels and blinds were designed to adjust openings based on the user’s preferences and privacy.
  • Solar panels are present on the roofs and the facade panels to cover the energy requirements of the house.

Ecology

  • The space between the building and the site boundary has vast vegetation.
  • The residence also has several mini courts.

2. National Library of Singapore

If you look up from the streets of Victoria Secret, the one thing you cannot miss is the beautiful sixteen storey library buildings connected by sky bridges. This building is not only aesthetically very appealing, it is also bio-climatic.

The Interior Of The National Library Of Singapore

Climate Responsive Strategies

  • To avoid radiation and heat from the sun, the building is oriented away from the east-west direction.
  • The atrium area is fully day lit.
  • The building is oriented north-south to avoid heat and radiation.
  • Sunshades were designed on the facades to reduce heat and glare.
  • The western openings are recessed and shaded.
  • Natural daylight and ventilation is facilitated by panels reflecting light and winds.

Energy Efficient Technology

  • Smart technology has been employed to reduce energy needs.
  • Light sensors are used to automatically turn off lights when enough daylight is present.
  • Automatic irrigation systems with rain sensors attached, water the rooftop gardens.
  • Motion sensors are employed to switch off elevators and lifts when not in use.
  • The building consumes 31% less energy than normal buildings of its size.

Ecology

  • Extensive landscaping with vegetation is encouraged.
  • There are fourteen gardens inside the building with 120 native plant species.
  • Apart from the landscape on the ground, sky bridges and the roof also have vast vegetation.

3. Mesiniaga Tower

Mesiniaga Tower is a rather futuristic spiral building with landscapes in between it. The tower, finished in 1992, won various awards for its design.

The Menara Mesiniaga Tower

Climate Responsiveness Strategies

  • Openings in the form of sky courts are provided in such a way to encourage cross ventilation.
  • The walls are placed strategically to allow plenty of natural lighting into the building.
  • Windows facing the sun have aluminium louvers and shades to reduce heat and radiation gain.
  • While the north and south facades have thin louvers, the east and west facades have bigger louvers.

Energy Efficient Technology

  • Enough solar panels are placed on the roof to supplement the electrical needs of the building.

Ecology

  • The landscape around the building is sloped with plenty of vegetation.
  • The building has sky courts in between to not only enhance the ecology of the building but also improve the productivity of the users by giving visual relief.
  • The sky courts are placed in a spiral in the building. 

Although green and eco architecture is on the rise, its pace is painstakingly slow. 

Incorporating landscapes into our projects might not always be possible due to a lack of space and responsibility. But simply looking at Yeang’s buildings shows us that there are creative ways to make climate-based and ecology-supporting buildings.

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