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Date [ 2013-03-13, 10:40 ]

Coming up, the country first real green university campus.

 

(Kuala Lumpur=Koreanpress) by Ramani Rathir = Malaysia takes amother step forward with its first purpose-built green campus. It will open its doors in Putrajaya in September 2014. It is expected to be a harbringer of more such eco-friendly educational institutions in Malaysia.

Putrajaya Holdings Sdn Bhd (PjH) is the landowner as well as the master developer for the Malaysian  campus of Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University. It will be the Scottish university’s first venture into this part of the world.

Located on 2.49 hectares at the Putrajaya Lakefront, the property is on a 25-year lease to the university. Offering an exceptional learning environment, CEO and Vice-Principal ,Professor Robert Craik said the purpose-built campus had cost about US$53 million and when completed should host 4,000 undergraduate, postgraduate and research students in various disciplines.

.Heriot-Watt's  stands in the rank of top universities globally and has a strong reputation as a research university. The professor feels this will go a long way to establish the university’s research links regionally.

Hijjas Kasturi Associates,  the project architect, will  develop it in two phases. Arfizan Arshad from the company informed work has already begun on the first phase and scheduled to be completed in May 2014. This should become operational by September the same year.

Work on Phase 1 is now at the basement level and up to the second floor.

When completed it will consist of  five-storey institutional and commercial blocks with one level as a  sub-basement car park. The 253,899 sq ft development plan on a 1.83ha site will include a prime retail centre  with one of its main attractions being eateries facing the lakeside. The ground floor and above will be dedicated laboratories, classrooms and administration offices.. 

Phase 2 on a 0.27ha site will have a commercial tower block with the option of becoming an expansion of the campus.

As the site predominantly faces north and south, it optimises the passive design aspect, the first approach to take in designing for sustainability.

 Arfan revealed that: “Everything, from orientation to overhangs to thermal properties, has been planned ro create a better building environment for work to be done in the passive manner, with the cross ventilation readily conceding to this aspect. Helping further, is the fact that the project is being developed on a plot ratio of 1:2, an ideally, low density development.”

Hijjas Kasturi won the tender for the project based on a competition held by PjH. The design had to incorporate elements of nature and technology in the city campus.

“At that time, we didn’t know it was for the Heriot Watt University. We were just given the brief that it was for a university. The concept had to converge nature and technology,'” explained  Hijjas Kasturi,s Director, Serina Hijjas.

Professor Dr Kenn Fisher, an Australian specializing in spatial learning environment, assisted Hijjas Kasturi during the competition. He introduced the latest in teaching methodologies in new schools in Australia and England. These meant more versatile use of space, where aside from designated lecture halls, regular classrooms could also double as function rooms for workshops, group discussions and meetings.

“We also brought in more daylight, with  more natural ventilation. This isin keeping with its design as  an open campus , disclosed Serina. What she left unsaid was the massive amount of research time done for the project. 

So it was only natural that the design was 80% landscape and 20% building footprint. “Today, when we design in the city, 10% is landscape and 90% is building. Tomorrow’s future is going to move more into a scenario where you should be getting a much higher percentage of landscape than you do in terms of the building footprint,” she asserted.”This is ecological urbanism,” she added. 

The building blocks behind the campus rise not more than five storeys, so as not to block the panoramic view of the lake waterfront. This attention to landscaping will continue with the upcoming developments of hotels, apartments and commercial properties.

This aspect is evident in its most outstanding green feature. This is its unique and arching green roof that curves from the ground to the third floor in one full sweep. The green roof provides a large expanse

of outdoor space for students and the public. They can go up to the top of the roof , which once when completed, will act as an observation deck accessible from the glass lift from the ground floor.

While this stands out as the most prominent feature of the campus, it also could incur the largest expenses – maintenance! The 300 metre long, 30 metre wide green roof, the first of its kind in Malaysia, requires the use of particular soil at various parts, waterproofing, irrigation system and the right type of  grass. The green roof will also have to undergo hydraulics tests. “Because of the 30 degree curvature on the green roof, the soil density on the roof will vary,” Arfizan disclosed. “This is to avoid erosion.  

What many do not know was that Heriot-Watt University was not too keen on green roof concept. The Hijjas Kasturi team successfully convinced the university with its d did detailed research of the most economical and viable options. “Everyone likes building a green roof, but we had to find how to maintain it and at a nominal cost,” disclosed Arfan.

Thanks to the architects’ persisitence, thethe Heriot-Watt University campus is set to be a landmark feature in Putrajaya

abc@koreanpress.net

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