Southeast Asia Building Series: (Part 3) More Surprising Updates on the Region’s Diversified Budding Architecture

August 8, 2021

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By 

Maria Rebecca Abaya

Typically, learning about new things like the latest gadget or the recently discovered superfood and hearing great stories about them triggers you to dig more and know more about them. The feeling is mutual as we keep the ball rolling in unleashing more of what has been developing in terms of the built environment in the region.

From parts 1&2, updates have been given on the first six countries and continuing further on three more countries in the region – Brunei, Laos, and Myanmar. These nations have proven their local design and architecture is not just about the basics of a shelter, that it is more than government buildings and that it is also beyond religious structures.

118 Residence At Kiulap, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

Located just opposite the Kiulap Commercial Business District, the prestigious condominium development, 118 Residence, has its construction completed in 2019. This project is a remarkable collaborative work of the country’s best companies in the industry, the Luxe Development Sdn Bhd as the designer and the Eco-Green Development Sdn Bhd as the sustainable design consultant, that led the project to receive its award as the 5-Star Winner of the Asia Pacific Property Award for 2019-2020 under the residential high-rise development category. The building consists of thirteen floors having nine floors of residential units above the three floors of parking and finally, the Skydeck at the rooftop sums up the whole structure.

118 Residence at Kiulap, Brunei, Designed by Luxe Development Sdn Bhd.
118 Residence at Kiulap, Brunei, Designed by Luxe Development Sdn Bhd.

The design radiates a blend of local culture and nature injected with today’s comfort and convenience. The green vines that overhang at the parking levels were meant to serve as a natural shade that also provides privacy for the users. Also, proper building orientation was carefully considered in the design process that now it effectively diverts all of the residential units from facing direct sunlight.

The entire building exudes extraordinary luxury on both the aesthetics and the comfort it gives to the residents. At the ground level, residents are greeted by a spacious shaded outdoor lobby where one can spend an airy afternoon without the need to actually leave the property – which now is also very timely to today’s stay-at-home situations. Upon entering the main building, a luxurious hotel-like lobby welcomes the residents, something the residents can boast about to their guests.

118 Residence at Kiulap, Brunei, Designed by Luxe Development Sdn Bhd.

All of the 80 residential units are highly secured and consist of an open-plan layout giving the residents comfortable spacious areas to roam around and taking out the “feeling boxed” mindset of condo living. Aside from all the available facilities on the ground floor, the Skydeck at the rooftop is also equipped with more outdoor amenities such as an infinity pool, the gym, and the open deck area for a variety of activities, in which all the areas provide breathtaking views for all the residents to enjoy and relax. Lastly, the intriguing protruding section that is part of the seventh to the ninth floor is actually composed of just one large unit called The Sky Manor, which is a prime unit of the building that is similar to other condominium’s penthouses.

The White House, Vientiane, Laos

Like the neighboring tropical countries, Laos’ traditional style of living is mostly spent outdoors and usually under the timber house built on stilts. This is what inspired Saola Architects in designing the White House which they described as “an abstraction materialized as white color”. The overall design leans towards the combined tropical, minimalist, and modernist approach. Finished in 2019, the white façade gives an illusion of a large house despite being situated in a narrow plot of land.

The White House by Saola Architects, Laos, Photo by François Hervy

This design feature also enhances the lush green elements that surround the house, and also the white walls somehow become a blank canvass where light reflections from the pool water are playfully displayed. The house is also arranged in seemingly like two floating horizontal dynamic volumes that allow more spaces for the users and it’s the architect’s own modern version of a house on stilts. 

The White House by Saola Architects, Laos, Photo by François Hervy
The White House by Saola Architects, Laos, Photo by François Hervy

Not to break the openness of the scenery from the outside, the architects opted to use full clear glass walls for an uninterrupted smooth transition of the outside spaces to the inside spaces. The first volume of the house is on the first floor which contains the living, dining, and kitchen spaces while all the bedrooms are on the second volume on the second floor where the views of the surrounding treetops are maximized.

The White House by Saola Architects, Laos, Photo by François Hervy
The White House by Saola Architects, Laos, Photo by François Hervy

The application of tropical design concepts is muchly evident in this house. The large glass windows not only allow maximum natural light but also invites as much natural air to flow within every corner of the house. The use of exposed concrete on the interiors while contrasting it with nicely done timber furniture truly exemplifies a simple modern and yet comfortably warm tropical living.

Mega Lifesciences Head Office, Yangon, Myanmar

The Mega Lifesciences Head Office by Maxxcare Ltd in the city of Yangon, Myanmar is currently one of the most modern and state-of-the-art offices in the country. It has received the Best Office Architectural Design Award 2019 by the 5th Myanmar Asia Property Awards in 2019. The office was designed by one of the most prestigious architectural firms in Myanmar, the Spine Architects, led by their Principal Architect Stephen Zaw Moe Shwe. According to Architect Stephen, overall, the project run-up to a total of four years, starting with the design conceptualization in 2016, and the construction officially ended in 2020. His design concept started by considering first the location of the office. Being nearby the Shwedagon Pagoda, he has to consider the height limits in relation to the most sacred pagoda in the country.

 The application of tropical design concepts is muchly evident in this house. The large glass windows not only allow maximum natural light but also invites as much natural air to flow within every corner of the house. The use of exposed concrete on the interiors while contrasting it with nicely done timber furniture truly exemplifies a simple modern and yet comfortably warm tropical living.
Mega Lifesciences Head Office, Myanmar, Designed by Spine Architects

Another premium place Architect Stephen has to bear in mind is the Singapore Embassy which is very near the site of the new office. With the proper form and right building height, the natural air that flows towards the nearby embassy will not be affected. So, he came up with his main design concept that is to have multiple floors of box-like shapes that are stacking in and out creating outdoor areas for every part of the office, and which will allow maximum natural light to come inside without blocking the wind direction as well. He also made sure to use locally available materials that are also easy to maintain as the country is also a developing country. For the interiors, the design team considered what the company is all about. Since it is a pharmaceutical company, modern clean lines, white spaces, and some pops of colors to give warmth to the office spaces are the way to go.

Mega Lifesciences Head Office, Myanmar, Designed by Spine Architects
Conceptual design analysis of Mega Lifesciences Head Office, Myanmar, Designed by Spine Architects
Interior Shot of Mega Lifesciences Head Office, Myanmar, Designed by Spine Architects

Since it is a pharmaceutical company, modern clean lines, white spaces, and some pops of colors to give warmth to the office spaces are the way to go.

Southeast Asia’s budding architecture embodies design ingenuity, connection to humanity, and, above all, imaginative environment. Last part of the series goes beyond interest but aims to create a landmark of innovative engagement.

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