DesignWorks: Harnessing Talent to Create Exceptional Architectural Designs
GDP Architects Sdn Bhd has a strong foothold in the Malaysian architectural industry and strongly believes in investing in the growth of young talent to turn ideas from the drawing board into innovative and inspiring built design.
Founded in 1990 by Founder and CEO Kamil Merican and Managing Director Syed Sobri Syed Ismail, GDP Architects has grown exponentially to 500 employees, with millennials making up approximately 55% of its workforce. The company is also focusing on its group of talented young designers to establish internal research units and design incubators.
With this aim, R+ – a research unit under GDP Architects – was established in mid-2017 to investigate how research can lead to new design methods. Over the years, the team has engaged in various activities such as design workshops, exhibitions and design competitions collaborating with diverse talents within the firm.
At the same time, Adaptus Design System Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of GDP Architects, assists the firm by providing architectural support services using the latest design technologies. GDP Lab was also created to help architects and designers experiment with different materials and design prototypes.
“We harness young talent to produce exceptional architectural designs that can stand the test of time, tradition, criticism and style. Good architectural design should respond to its end users through robust design, detailing and precision manufacturing,” says GDP Architects Partner Loke Chew Ping.
The main challenge, says Loke, is to deal with the construction paradox while being environmentally conscious. There will be improvement if the architecture goes beyond looks and emits depth, quality and substance in a city. “We see this as an opportunity to rewrite and redesign how a building works to serve a multitude of uses and as such we aim to explore new and different products with our clients to attract buyers from a first home,” she says.
Notable projects by GDP Architects include Ministry of Finance Putrajaya Building, Pavilion, KKR2 Tower, Arcoris Mont’Kiara, The Intermark, The Mews and The [email protected]
The company received the RIBA International Award for The Troika in 2012, the Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia (PAM) Award for Permata Pintar Auditorium in 2015 and the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) Best Project Award (Building Project – Major) 2013 for the Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur. .
A new financial center for bankers
GDP Architects’ most recent projects include the Asian Institute of Chartered Bankers (AICB) building in Bukit Perdana and the Equatorial Hotel (EQ) in Jalan Sultan Ismail, both in Kuala Lumpur.
The 340,000 square foot AICB building is a training center for AICB and 10 affiliated financial institutions supported by Malaysia’s central bank, Bank Negara Malaysia. The center aims to become a unique, world-class talent development facility.
Completed in early 2020, the project began as a design competition for an office building with training facilities. “We rarely design an owner-occupied building and, [moreover]it’s for 10 users, the majority of which are banking institutions and their affiliates,” says GDP Architects Partner Shah Iskandar Siow.
“We looked at how the spaces [could] work with 10 desks, with pocket gardens and green borders between desks introduced as breathing spaces. These small initiatives created the overall architectural form of the building and the dynamism of the [design] concept lies in its diverse but homogeneous spatial quality.
“The atrium acts as an active meeting place with a well-connected financial services library and training facilities. The library allows students and working professionals to interact and conduct research as part of the building’s role of bridging knowledge and experience.
Continuing a Legacy
The snazzier EQ was originally a renovation of an 18-story hotel, but did not meet the city’s requirements. “The authorities wanted the building to be in line with the KL skyline and to have a certain density. So we redesigned and rebuilt a new skyscraper with EQ’s DNA pretty much intact,” explains GDP Architects partner Bibi See.
The hotel opened in 1973. It was demolished in 2012 and the construction of the new building was completed in 2018. The building comprises 23 floors of high-end A+ grade open-plan offices and 21 floors of hotel rooms five stars, with a total built area of 1.015 million square feet.
After reviewing the design, the client wanted the hotel and office to be individual towers, but was constrained by the one-acre site. As such, the design team improvised by creating a double tower effect that gives the illusion that the hotel and office towers are separate entities. “We designed the building to emphasize verticality by carefully integrating the contrast of the vertical stainless steel bands against the dark laminate curtain wall panels,” says See.
It highlights a feature of the building – a three-height daylight lobby, with eloquent, polished surfaces to create an alluring entrance. “The immaculate spiral staircase that connects the entry level to levels one and two of the podium [cannot] to lack. The sleek structure is wrapped in a curved glass balustrade and is further enhanced with bespoke lighting and white and rose gold trim,” she says.
“We aim to be timeless and so the use of carefully selected stainless steel cladding and architectural stone elements helps to balance function and form. [of the building]. It is about balancing the requirements of the client and the architecture, and providing the best design solution that suits the [design] brief. We worked closely with the consultants and contractors to realize the design intent. »
EQ received Gold certification from the Green Building Index (GBI) and won CIDB’s Best Project — Major Buildings Award 2019, among others.