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Ken Yeang

Ken Yeang
Born 1948 (age 67–68)
Penang, Malaysia
Nationality Malaysian
Alma mater AA School (London), Cambridge University (UK)
Occupation Architect
Practice Ken Yeang Design International (UK)
T. R. Hamzah & Yeang Sdn. Bhd. (Malaysia)
North Hamzah Yeang Architectural and Engineering Company (China)
Buildings Menara Mesiniaga, National Library of Singapore

Ken Yeang (born 1948) is a Malaysian architect, ecologist and author known for his signature ecoarchitecture and ecomasterplans. Yeang is an early pioneer of ecology-based green design and masterplanning, carrying out design and research in this field since 1971. He was named by the Guardian as "one of the 50 people who could save the planet".[1]

Yeang's operating headquarters for his company Hamzah and Yeang is in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with other offices in London as Ken Yeang Design International and Beijing (China) as North Hamzah Yeang Architectural and Engineering Company.


  • Early life and education 1
  • Career 2
  • Recognition and Awards 3
  • Bioclimatic skyscraper 4
  • Green urbanism 5
  • Aesthetics of eco-architecture 6
  • Work on the theory of ecological design 7
  • Key Projects 8
  • Projects (construction completion year) 9
  • Other Projects 10
  • Current projects under construction 11
  • Publications 12
  • Sources 13
  • Footnotes 14
  • External links 15

Early life and education

Born in 1948 in Penang, Malaysia, Yeang grew up in a tropical Modernist house designed by Iversen, van Sitteren & Partners.[2] He attended Penang Free School. In 1961, Yeang attended Cheltenham College, a British public school in Gloucestershire.[2]

He obtained his qualifications in architecture from the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London (AA). In 1969, he did an internship at the Singapore architect practice S.T.S. Leong, before returning to the AA to complete his diploma[2] under Peter Cook (1972). Yeang worked briefly at Louis de Soisson Partnership and as a student did freelance illustrations and graphic design work for the AD and AAQ magazines and for the AA. He did his post-graduate at Cambridge University Department of Architecture. His doctoral dissertation, "A Theoretical Framework for Incorporating Ecological Considerations in the Design and Planning of the Built Environment" earned him a PhD in ecological design and planning. It is published as ‘Designing With Nature’ (McGraw-Hill, 1995)[2] and in Spanish as 'Proyectar Con La Naturaleza’ (Gustavo Gili, SA, 1999). He received an honorary Litt.D. from Sheffield University (2004), and an honorary PhD from the University of Malaya (2013).

Yeang took ecology courses at the Department of Environmental Biology at Cambridge University and attended (partially) the ecological land use planning course at the University of Pennsylvania, Department of Landscape Architecture under Ian McHarg. He became a member of the British Ecological Society. These studies provided the basis for Yeang’s doctorate and to later develop his biodiversity approach to ecological architecture and masterplanning.

He is registered as a professional architect with the ARB (Architects Registration Board) (UK), the RIBA (Royal Institute of Architects) (UK), PAM (Pertubuhan Arkitek Malaysia), and, as of 1972, the SIA (Singapore Institute of Architects). He is a Fellow of the SIA, an Honorary Fellow of the AIA (American institute of Architects) and Honorary Fellow of the RSIA (Royal Scottish Institute of Architects).

Yeang attended short courses in business management at the Malaysian Institute of Management, the Singapore Institute of Management and at Harvard Business School.


In 1975, Yeang worked at Akitek Bersekutu. In 1976, he formed a partnership with a fellow AA graduate, Tengku Datuk Robert Hamzah who had earlier started a practice as T. R. Hamzah & Rakan-Rakan).[3] In 2005, Yeang was made a Director of the UK practice Llewelyn Davies which was dissolved in 2012.

Yeang has completed over 12 bioclimatic eco high-rise buildings, several thousand dwellings (terraced houses), over two million sq. ft. of interior design space, numerous eco-masterplans and eco-city designs, and has overall completed over a hundred building projects of all types worldwide.

Yeang lectures extensively in over 30 countries at conferences and schools of architecture on his ideas and work on ecological design and masterplanning.

Yeang holds the Plym Distinguished Visitng Professorship at University of Illinois, and has been the Professor of Practice at [Texas A&M University|Texas A & M University]], the Graham Willis Professor at University of Sheffield, the Provost’s Distinguished Visiting Scholar at University of Southern California, the Visiting Eminent Scholar at Florida Atlantic University, the Advisory Professor at Tongji University (Shanghai), an Honorary Professor at University of Hong Kong, and miscellaneous Adjunct Professorships at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, University of Hawaii, University of New South Wales, Curtin University, University of Malaya, Deakin University.

Yeang had served as board member of the public listed MBf Property Unit Trust and the Pertubuhan Arkitek Malaysia (Malaysian Institute of Architects) Education Fund. Yeang has served as President of the Malaysian Institute of Architects, Chairman of ARCASIA (Asian Council of Architects), Vice-President Commonwealth Association of Architects and council member of the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects). Yeang is a board member of the Government of Malaysia’s Genovasi (2013).

His key built works include the Roof-Roof House (Malaysia), Menara Mesiniaga (an IBM franchise) (Malaysia), National Library Singapore (Singapore), Solaris (Singapore with CPG Consult), Spire Edge Tower (India with Abraxas Architects), DiGi Data Centre (Malaysia), Ganendra Art House (Malaysia), Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital Extension (under Llewelyn Davies Yeang, UK), the Genome Research Building (Hong Kong with Andrew Lee King Fun & Associates).

Recognition and Awards

Hamzah & Yeang's design and built work have been recognised by the over 70 awards received since 1989 that include the:

  • Aga Khan Award for Architecture (for the Menara Mesiniaga, an IBM franchise)
  • The Prince Claus Award (Netherlands)
  • The UIA (International Union of Architects) Auguste Perret Award
  • Several of the Malaysian Institute of Architects (PAM) annual design awards
  • The WACA (World Association of Chinese Architects) Gold Medals (for the Solaris Building, 2011 and for the National Library Singapore)
  • The Holcim Regional Award for Sustainability (Switzerland) (for the Putrajaya Phase 2C5 building, Malaysia, 2011),

His personal awards include:

  • PAM (Malaysia Institute of Architects) Gold Medal

• UIA Auguste Perret Award

  • Government of Malaysia’s ‘Darjah Mulia Pangkuan Negeri (DMPN) Award (that carries the official title of ‘Dato’ (2003) generally regarded as the Malaysian equivalent of the UK’s OBE)
  • Lynn S. Beedle Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (USA)
  • Merdeka Award (for the 'environment' category, 2011) from the Government of Malaysia, regarded as its national equivalent of the Nobel prize.

Bioclimatic skyscraper

Yeang's early work applies bioclimatic (climate-responsive) principles to building design, to create low-energy passive-mode buildings. This climate-responsiveness approach engenders critical regionalist features in his work, where climatic responses of the design provide the links to its locality. The bioclimatic approach subsequently became the underlying armature for his ecological design agenda.

The 'Roof-Roof' House (1985), where Yeang lives at the edge of Kuala Lumpur, is his early experimental bioclimatic built work. The dwelling with several experimental ideas within a single built form, has an identifiable dramatic curved louvred upper roof-structure as an umbrella-like 'environmental filter' that functions as a solar-filtering device and a second shading roof (hence its name 'Roof-Roof') that shades the building's lower roof terrace. The large louvres are angled to let in the easterly morning sun but keep out the hot mid-day and western sun. It has side 'wind wing-walls' at the south to direct wind into the dining area. On the east is a pool that besides being for swimming also functions as an evaporative-cooling device to cool the predominantly easterly breeze before entering the adjoining internal living spaces. The many features on this small building make it an instructive reference prototype for bioclimatic climate-responsive architecture. The influences of its built form and bioclimatic ideas can be found in Yeang's later work.

Yeang applied these bioclimatic passive-mode principles to the high-rise tower typology; a built form he considers requires revision. His contention is that the high-rise tower as an intensive built form will not go away overnight because of the existent economic basis for its existence arising from high urban land values and the need to accommodate rapid urban growth. He sought to find ecologically benign ways to make this built form green and humane to inhabit. He built several experimental climate-responsive and eco-designed towers from the mid-1970s to present day. For instance, the Plaza Atrium with the giant wind-scoop, Menara Boustead with the planted sky-terraces, Plaza IBM with the continuous system of stepped-planters, Central Plaza with its solar oriented facade, Solaris with its continuous vegetated spiraling ramp, Spire Edge with its vertical green eco-infrastructure. Professor Udo Kulterman (Washington University) credits him as the inventor of the 'bioclimatic skyscraper',

The Mesiniaga Tower (an IBM Franchise) is regarded as his most didactic climate-responsive tower, bringing various earlier experimental 'bioclimatic skyscraper' ideas in a single built form. It is seen in the placement of the elevator core as a solar buffer at the tower's hot side, the placement of toilets and stairwells to receive natural ventilation opportunities, the various solar-path shaped sun-shades, the use of an evaporative-cooling pool at the uppermost roof level, the overhead louvred canopy as a framework for future PV cells, and the vegetated and stepped facade-recessed sky-terraces as interstitial semi-enclosed spaces for the building's users. The building is characteristic of Yeang's work in an ideas-driven approach. This seminal building received several awards including the Aga Khan Award for Architecture (1993), The Malaysian Institute of Architects Award, the Singapore Institute of Architects Award, The Royal Australian Institute of Architects Award and a citation from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

Yeang continues to pursue and develop these bioclimatic passive-mode design ideas and devices to other low-rise and medium-rise building types, now with ecological features and at other climatic zones.

Green urbanism

In the 1990s, Yeang started work on designing the high-rise typology as 'vertical green urbanism'. He sought to reinvent the skyscraper typology as a form of 'vertical urban design'.[4]

His ideas invert the high-rise typology to be now designed as a 'city-in-the-sky', or what he refers as 'vertical urban design’, which he first exemplified in his high-rise National Library Singapore (2005). The building features large 40m high 'public realms-in-the sky' in the form of two verdantly landscaped 'skycourt gardens', a ground plane as an 'open-to-the-sky' plaza for public festivals and culturally-related activities. The thickened first floor slab over the plaza functions bio-climatically as an evaporative-cooling mass to the public realm below. Multiple upper-level sky-bridges link the building's two blocks (one regular-shaped block containing the library's book collections and the other, a 'banana-shaped' block for the library's programming activities. There is a naturally-ventilated atrium between the two blocks, covered by a ventilating louvred canopy over the entire built form that serves as its 'fifth facade'. There are two multi-volume reading rooms are located at either sides of the book collections block. At the uppermost roof level is a promontory viewing pod. The building's built form has an organic geometry in Yeang's on-going explorations to derive an ecological aesthetic. The building is well built without being elaborately detailed. The building is BCA-rated Green Mark Platinum.

Yeang's ideas for an urban park-in-the-sky in the high-rise building type is manifested as a 'vertical linear park' in his Solaris Building (2011) at 1-North Singapore that is a benchmark building in his green agenda for designing buildings as 'constructed living systems' (see his 'biodiversity targets matrix' in the GyeonGi Masterplan, Seoul, Korea). The building has an ecologically-linked vegetated pedestrian walkway ramp that is 1.3 km in length as a 'vertical linear park', punctuated by sky garden terraces located at each of the building's corners, and further linked to a mid-level and to the uppermost-level roof gardens.

His ideas for a vertical linear park and vertical urbanism were first explored in his unbuilt EDITT Tower (Waterloo Road, Singapore). This idea is further developed in his Solaris building. The Solaris also has an 'ecocell' (a green integrative device first presented in his masterplan for Kowloon Waterfront masterplan, Hong Kong). The Solaris has side 'rain-check' glazed-walls at the ground floor's facades facing a non-air-conditioned space, and a central trim with automated-operated glass-louvres over the atrium with sensors that open and shut the louvres when required to ventilate the atrium and the ground floor. The building is BCA-rated Green Mark Platinum.

The Solaris' vertical linear park device led to his concept of the continuous 'green eco-infrastructure', a device that enables a vital ecological nexus between the built form and its surrounding landscape and hinterland, that became a crucial biodiversity component in all his subsequent masterplanning and eco-city design work (e.g. the iconic SOMA Masterplan in Bangalore, India) and in his architecture (e.g. the Spire Edge Tower in Gurgaon, India, completion c. 2013). This green eco-infrastructure concept led to his developing a unifying platform for eco-masterplanning that is the "weaving together of 'four eco-infrastructures' into a unified system" (see below).

Yeang worked on the Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital Extension (London, UK) (completed 2011) as a green healthcare facility. The building has a corner mixed-mode flue-wall providing natural ventilation during the mid-seasons to the Walt Disney operated ground floor Cafe), a sedum-planted roof, various low energy building systems (CHP, etc.), use of green materials, etc. The building is BREEAM rated 'excellent'.

His contribution to masterplanning is the development of a 'platform' for designing eco-masterplans and eco-cities. The approach regards designing buildings and masterplans as 'total living systems' that are both interactive and functional through the bio-integration of 'four eco-infrastructural armatures' into an overall coherent system – Firstly, the 'green infrastructure' (described here as 'nature's utilities') which includes ecological corridors and networks that link existent and new open spaces and provide habitats for fauna and flora, for natural resource management and integrated urban food production systems. Second, the 'grey infrastructure' which includes cleantech eco-engineering systems such as sustainable energy systems, transportation/movement systems, natural sewage systems, materials recycling systems (including DFD or 'Designing For Disassembly’ construction), bioclimatic enclosure systems, green hardscapes and other green engineering utilities. Thirdly, the 'blue infrastructure', which includes hydrological management, the 'closing' of the water cycle, water conservation and management, grey water reuse, rain water harvesting, sustainable drainage including the use of bioswales, filtration strips, black water treatment, detention ponds as storm water management systems. The last eco-infrastructural armature is the 'red infrastructure', that requires creating sustainable human ways of life and societal activities which include creating new green lifestyles, providing new sustainable food production and distribution systems, green human laws and legislative systems, revising existent socio-economic, industrial and political systems into sustainable systems, etc.

This approach to eco-city design and eco-masterplanning provides an indeterminate general framework that enables an inclusivity of constantly changing complex factors and technologies, with a flexibility that allows for technological obsolescence while encouraging innovation.[5]

Aesthetics of eco-architecture

Yeang pursuit of eco-architecture and eco-masterplanning theories, concepts and ideas have been carried out in parallel with an exploration for an 'ecological aesthetic', encouraged by his former PhD Supervisor at Cambridge University, Professor John Frazer, in questioning "...What a green building and masterplan should look like?"

Yeang contends that an ecological architectural aesthetic should resemble a living system, looking natural, verdant and hirsute with nature and its processes visible in the bio-integration of the synthetic builtform's physical constituents (abiotic) with the native fauna, flora (the biotic constituents) and the environmental biological processes of the land. He contends that much of existent architecture and masterplans that lay claim by other elsewhere to be sustainable are simply commonly-styled or iconically-styled builtforms stuffed internally with eco-engineering gadgetry and with occasional vegetation in its upper open courts. Yeang contends that an eco-architecture and an eco-city should be 'alive' as a living system, analogous to a constructed ecosystem and not 'de-natured' nor look predominantly inorganic, artificial and synthetic. He adopts these assertions as the basis for his eco-architecture.

Yeang contends that eco-architecture and eco-masterplans demand their own identifiable 'style'. It is this distinctive green vegetated eco-aesthetic in Yeang's architecture and masterplans that brought international attention to his work. His eco-aesthetic does not have the shape or form that in any way resemble existent architectural styles. This aesthetic is an independent aesthetic that encompasses eco-design holistically and which comes from an interpretation, an understanding and the inclusion of ecological constituents and processes of its locality in its built form. This can be regarded as an emergent ecological aesthetic, where its shapes and forms have a nexus with adjoining ecosystems, which harmonise with the site's ecology, enhance local biodiversity, besides having other eco performance features such denying negative consequences, avert polluting emissions, be more energy and water efficient and carbon neutral than conventional buildings, and other eco-design attributes. He sees the eco-architecture as designed like a 'constructed living system'. Lord Norman Foster of Thames Bank refers to Yeang's eco-aesthetics, "Ken Yeang has developed a distinctive architectural vocabulary that extends beyond questions of style to confront issues of sustainability and how we can build in harmony of the natural world." (2011). Yeang's work in his relentless pursuit of an original bio-integrated 'ecological aesthetic' can be regarded as Yeang's other contribution to this field.

Work on the theory of ecological design

Yeang is both a theoretician and a seasoned designer. The theoretical rigorousness in his work firmly underpins and legitimises his ecological architecture and masterplanning work and gives them critical substance that anchors his eco-design work. Yeang's writings, built and theoretical work have contributed significantly in advancing this field of endeavour. His earlier Cambridge doctoral dissertation (1975) presents a unifying comprehensive theoretical model for eco-design, still remaining valid today, defines the prime factors in eco-design in the form of four sets of interrelated 'environmental interactions', which he assembles in a mathematical 'partitioned-matrix' of four sets of interdependent environmental interactions. This theoretical model continues to serve as the underlying guiding framework for his present eco-architecture and eco-masterplanning work.

He recognised over 4 decades ago that human's callous environmental devastations and contamination of the natural environment would adversely affect the planet's natural balance, its ecosystems biodiversity and its biospheric processes (causing global warming and climate change). It is this insight then in the early 1970s that led him to do research in this field for a doctorate in ecological design and planning at Cambridge University (UK).

Because ecodesign in the 1970s did not have the benefit of prior research, theoretical models and frameworks, nor engineering support, Yeang early years involved empirical research, experimental design, and investigative studies of ecological processes that he could replicate or mimic in his human made structures. His research work is published in several key books including, Designing with Nature (1995), The Skyscraper, Bioclimatically Considered: A Design Primer (1997), The Green Skyscraper: The Basis for Designing Sustainable Intensive Buildings (Prestel), Ecodesign: A Manual for Ecological Design(2006), Eco-Masterplanning (2009), Eco Design Dictionary (an illustrated reference with co-author Lillian Woo, 2009). He is currently researching for a monograph, Eco-mimesis: Bases for Designing the Built Environment, on the mimicry of the ecological properties and attributes of ecosystems (Publ. by Taylor and Francis).

Yeang’s recent projects show the maturing of his design work with a growing complexity and confidence in creating an eco-architecture as a 'living system' with an evident hirsute greening and vertical landscaping that defines and becomes his own identifiable architectural style. With the high level of verdant landscape in his builtforms, (whether externally or placed internally within the builtform for climatic protection in his projects in temperate and cold climates), his ecoaesthetic is described by his colleagues as 'indeterminate', 'hairy', 'constructed habitats'. 'vertical landscaping'. The most significant impact of Yeang's work on architecture is possibly his revisioning of architectural design to no longer be designing simply synthetic and inanimate objects, but as the complex creation of built structures as 'constructed ecosystems' (that must also address the usual other users' programmatic functions such as fulfilling their programmatic needs, creating vitally experiential and pleasurable spaces, etc.). The approach involves creating viable habitats within the development and then matching these with selected native fauna species whether for feeding, breeding or refuge to enhance local biodiversity. These are then matched with selected flora species in a composite 'biodiversity matrix ' that provides views the basis for designing the local landscape conditions for the species to survive over the seasons of the year. Yeang now applies this concept to all his work. This endeavour takes eco-design beyond accreditation systems, to its next generation of green design, redefining the relationship of our human-made synthetic built systems with the ecology of the landscape, enabling a higher level of bio-integration and biodiversity.

Yeang's oeuvre of design, built and theoretical work, his most important and instructive contribution to ecological design is his advancing the landmark macro ecology-based land use planning approach of one of his mentors, the landscape architect Ian McHarg and then extending and articulating this eco-masterplannng work from its large-scale urban planning scale with its ecology-based approach to the 'micro level' of architectural design at the scale of the built form. This was an endeavour that McHarg had sought to do for his architect colleagues but unable to achieve, likely limited by being a landscape architect.

Carrying out an ongoing in-house programme of research on eco-design within his professional practice and undertaken over several decades, Yeang applies the research outcomes concurrently in his firm's design work. This two-prong approach of progressively developing a body of research basis for design and implementing this research in his design and built work led Yeang to being recognised internationally as a pioneer, advocate, writer and innovator in an authentic approach to ecological design. By the mid-1990s both private and public sector clients worldwide, dissatisfied with the limitations of conventional accreditation systems and with the eco-engineering-hardware based design approach of many others, sought Yeang for their signature (iconic) eco-designed architecture projects, eco-masterplans and large scale eco-city designs. Yeang's design work is characterised as ideas-driven builtform where each design expounds one or more of his newly invented eco systemic, eco technical ideas or novel device such as the 'eco landscape-bridge' and the 'eco-undercroft' (in the Guangzhou Masterplan, China and in the Cambaie Masterplan, La Reunion), the 'eco-cell' (in the Kowloon Waterfront Masterplan, Hong Kong), the 'green eco-infrastructure' (in the SOMA Masterplan, Bangalore, India), the continuous green-wall (in DiGi Data Centre in Shah Alam, Malaysia), the 'Vertical Linear Park' (in the Solaris building, in Singapore) and others.

His recent work explores the concept of 'eco-mimicry' as designing the built environment as constructed ecosystems that mimic the processes, structure and attributes of ecosystems, such as ecosystem biological structure, ecosystem materials recycling, ecosystems increasing efficient energy use, etc. ‘Eco-mimicry’ is a term he first used in his book, Eco-design: A Manual for Ecological Design (2006). adopted from his early ideas and papers (in Yeang,K. (1974), Bionics: The Use of Biological Analogies in Design, in AAQ No.4 (Architectural Association Quarterly), London, UK, in Yeang, K.(1972), Bases for Ecosystem Design, in Architectural Design, Architectural Press, London (1973). the ideas can also be found in, Learning From Nature: The Ecomimicry Project (Marchall, Alex, poster paper, Environmental Education conference, Western Australia (2006). The term 'eco-mimicry' is regarded by some as an outgrowth from the terms ‘bio-mimicry’ and 'eco-mimetics'. Yeang's version of eco-mimicry refers to physical, structural and systemic mimicry of ecosystems, and not to be mistaken with a simplistic 'visual' mimicry which he regards as superficial. This work is developed from his earlier research (in his Cambridge doctoral dissertation, 1974) on the use of biological analogies in design.

Fundamental to Yeang's design work is an ecological nexus as an eco-infrastructure within the built structure. All of Yeang’s architecture and eco-masterplans have an internal as well as an external ecological connectivity within the built forms or masterplans that is connected to the landscape at the ground plane and where possible to the hinterland's natural landscape, and which further seek a benign and seamless bio-integration between human activities and its built systems with the surrounding ecosystems in the landscape (e.g. in the Zorlu Masterplan, Istanbul, Turkey). He draws a systemic analogy here with 'prosthesis' in surgery where successful bio-integration of our synthetic constructed systems with their host organism is crucial. He identifies three levels of designing for bio-integration: physical, systemic, temporal.

Most of the current generation of architects and engineers approach “green” design and construction through cleantech eco-engineering ('eco-gadgetry') or simply through compliance to green accreditation systems. To Yeang, while these practices are relevant and can be progressive, they do not constitute green design in an environmentally comprehensive and inclusive way inherent in an ecologically-based approach. Yeang states, “ is easy to be misled or seduced by technology and to think that if we assemble enough eco-gadgetry (e.g. in the form of solar collectors, photovoltaic cells, biological recycling systems, building-automation systems and double-skin facades, etc.) in one single building that this can automatically be considered ecological architecture..". Yeang contends that although these engineering systems and technologies are commendable and useful components towards an ecological architecture and towards achieving an ecological outcome, he asserts that ecological design is not just about cleantech or eco-engineering or carbon neutral systems; but that eco-technologies and engineering must be integrated with and be influenced by the ecology, climate and physical conditions of the landscape.

Yeang believes that our existent built environment is regarded as having alienated humans from nature, as aspect, which he considers needing to be rectified. He defines eco-design as 'achieving a benign and seamless bio-integration of our built environment and human activities with the natural environment', He regards this bio-integration function to include enhancing biodiversity, repairing human-caused fragmented ecosystems, enhancing ecological nexus (through devices such as eco landbridges, eco undercrofts, vertical green walls and landscaping), the use of eco-cells for internal integrating of builtforms, repairing ecologically fragmented territory by ecological corridors and fingers to provide an ecological nexus to connect to the landscape and hinterland, minimising disruptions with adjoining ecosystems, maintaining sensitive eco-balance within habitats, enhancing existent urban greenery, reducing or having zero dependency on non-renewable sources of energy, designing for water conservation and management, providing sustainable drainage systems (including sustainable drainage and use of constructed wetlands), using green building materials that are recyclable, reusable and re-integrateable benignly back into the natural environment, and others. His recent advances (see below) include designing built systems as 'living systems' through designing to create 'constructed habitats' (in the Gyeongi Masterplan, Seoul, Korea).

Many regard Yeang’s work as simply placing vegetation in his builtforms or as just creating an ecological nexus (continuous link) within his builtforms to enhance local biodiversity. Yeang’s work does more than the addition of greenery and landscaping in builtforms. The unique factor is that he designs his buildings and eco-masterplans as total 'living systems' and as constructed ecosystems requiring the creation of new habitats within and around the development, involving the matching of selected native species with these constructed habitats, setting their ‘biodiversity targets’ to achieve the expected level of biodiversity by providing physical conditions within these habitats to enable the selected species to survive over the seasons of the year. In achieving this, his built work become more than just ‘vertically-landscaped architecture’ but are in effect constructed ‘living systems’.[6] This designing of developments as living systems differentiates his work from the work of those who imitate his work by just placement of planting within their builtforms.

Key Projects

Yeang has completed over 200 built projects since 1975. His benchmark buildings, projects and their innovations include:

  • The EDITT Tower (unbuilt) – Waterloo Road, Singapore – a 2ndn prize winner, EDITT competition.

The project has been published in over 30 international publications for its hirsute extensively-vegetated ramp façade and aesthetic,.

  • The Roof Roof House – Selangor, Malaysia (1985) – an experimental climate-responsive house that rethought bioclimatic passive-mode low-energy building design.
  • Menara Mesiniaga Tower – Selangor, Malaysia (1992) – a climate-responsive tower that exemplifies Yeang’s key principles for 'bioclimatic skyscraper' design, and received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, the RAIA (Royal Australian Institute of Architects) International Award, the Malaysian institute of Architects Design Award.
  • Kowloon Waterfront Masterplan – Hong Kong (c. 1998) – a green masterplan where Yeang developed the green eco infrastructure concept and the novel use of 'eco cells'.
  • National Library – Singapore (2005) – a green library tower (120m) with large landscaped sky courts (40m high) that received the BCA Green Mark Platinum Award 2005, and the Singapore Institute of Architects Award.
  • SOMA Masterplan – Bangalore, India (2006) – a signature eco masterplan that espouses his innovative idea for eco city masterplanning as the integration of four eco infrastructures, with the use of eco bridges and eco undercrofts to enable an ecological nexus across the terrain.
  • DiGi Technical Office – Shah Alam, Malaysia (2010) – advances the idea of a 'living' eco wall as a nexus of greenery linking all the facades. It received the Malaysian Institute of Architects Design Award (Commendation, 2010) and Green Building Index Gold rating.
  • Solaris Tower – 1-north, Singapore (2010) [with CPG Consult]- with a 1.5 km long 'Vertical Linear Park' vegetated ramp that wraps itself around the tower's façade, a diagonal light-shaft, automated glass-louvers roof over the atrium, rain-check walls at the ground floor, which received the Singapore Institute of Architects Award (2011), the Malaysian institute of Architects Gold Award 2011, the WACA (World Association of Chinese Architects) Gold Medal 2011 and BCA Green Mark Platinum rating.
  • Spire Edge Tower – (Gurgaon, Haryana, India), under construction with anticipated completion 2013, a signature tower that espouses the idea of a vertical green eco infrastructure, LEED Platinum rating.
  • Ganendra Art House – Petaling Jaya, Malaysia (2011) – Art Gallery with accommodation for live-in artist has an experimental 'down-draft' ventilating flue for enhancing comfort cooling, received the Malaysian Institute of Architects Design Award (Commendation) 2010, Green Building Index certification rating.
  • The Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital Extension Phase 1 (2011) [with Llewelyn Davies Yeang] – London, UK, BREEAM 'excellent rating'
  • GyeongGi Development, Seoul, Korea (unbuilt) – habitat creation that exemplifies the use of a Biodiversity Matrix that makes the development into a total 'living system'..

Projects (construction completion year)

  • Plaza Atrium, Kuala Lumpur, 1981
  • Roof-Roof house, Kuala Lumpur 1985
  • Menara Boustead, Kuala Lumpur, 1986
  • Menara Mesiniaga, Subang Jaya, Malaysia, 1992[7]
  • MBF Tower, Penang, Malaysia,1993
  • TA1 Tower, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
  • TTDI The Plaza and Residence Towers and retail, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia1996
  • UMNO Tower, Penang, 1998
  • Mutiara Mesiniaga Penang, Penang, 2003
  • Mewah Oils Headquarters, Malaysia 2005
  • National Library of Singapore, Singapore, 2005[7][8]
  • Limkokwing University of Creative Technology (Main campus, Cyberjaya), Malaysia, 2006
  • TA2 Tower, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 2005
  • Ganendra Art House, Malaysia, 2010
  • Calvary Convention Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 2012
  • Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital Extension Phase 1, London (UK) 2011)
  • LGT Hijauan Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Completion 2018)
  • Fu Gong Shan, Johore, Malaysia (2016)

Other Projects

  • Tokyo-Nara Tower, Tokyo, Japan, 1994
  • Elephant and Castle EcoTower, London
  • Al-Asima, Kuwait
  • CAAG Tower, London
  • Enterprise Building 4, Cyberjaya, Malaysia
  • Jabal Omar Towers, Mecca, Saudi Arabia
  • Dubai Towers, UAE
  • Beijing Mega Hall North
  • Taipei Capital Plaza
  • Chongging Tower, China
  • Vancouver Waterfront, Canada
  • Premier City, Almaty, Kazakhstan

Current projects under construction

  • Putrajaya Phase 2C5 Towers (offices and retail) (Completion 2016)
  • Y Cantonments, Penang, Malaysia (2015)


  • 1995 Designing With Nature: The Ecological Basis for Architectural Design, Mcgraw-Hill Designing with Nature
  • 1997 Skyscraper, Bioclimatically Considered: A Design Primer, Wiley-Academy Skyscraper-Bioclimatically-Considered
  • 2000 The Green Skyscraper: The Basis for Designing Sustainable Intensive Buildings, Prestel
  • 2002 Reinventing the Skyscraper: A Vertical Theory of Urban Design, Academy Press
  • 2007 Eco Skyscrapers, Images Publishing
  • 2008 Ecodesign: A Manual for Ecological Design, Wiley
  • 2009 EcoMasterplanning, Wiley [1]
  • 2011 Ecoarchitecture: The Work of Ken Yeang, Ecoarchitecture


  • Hart, Sara, Ecoarchitecture – The Work of Ken Yeang, John Wiley & Sons (2011), UK
  • Powell, Robert Rethinking the Skyscraper: the complete architecture of Ken Yeang, Thames & Hudson (1999), ISBN 0-500-28155-6


  1. ^ "50 people who could save the planet". The Guardian (London). 5 January 2008. Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d Rethinking the Skyscraper, Introduction: A European Upbringing, pp. 7–12
  3. ^ Rethinking the Skyscraper, Introduction: A European Upbringing, pp. 12–13
  4. ^ These ideas are presented in his book, Reinventing the Skyscraper: A Vertical Theory of Urban Design (publ. John Wiley & Sons, UK, 2002), authored as a sequel to his earlier, The Skyscraper: Bioclimatically Considered (publ. John Wiley & Sons, UK, 1997)
  5. ^ Ecoarchitecture – The Work of Ken Yeang, page 18; and Yeang, K. (Publ. John Wiley & Sons, UK, 2011), Ecomasterplanning, (Publ. John Wiley & Sons, UK, 2009)
  6. ^ Ecoarchitecture – The Work of Ken Yeang, pages 252–253
  7. ^ a b "Dr Ken Yeang: Cast your votes for the Observer Ethical Awards". 11 January 2009. Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  8. ^ Pearson, Clifford A.: "T.R. Hamzah & Yeang applies its trademark bioclimatic design principles to the new National Library in Singapore" in Architectural Record, August 2006

External links

  • Website of T. R. Hamzah & Yeang Sdn. Bhd.
  • Biography and interview with Ken Yeang, and an image gallery of his work. CNN, July 2007
  • Interview with Ken Yeang 2009(Video)
  • 2009 Green Source Magazine Article on Solaris, Singapore
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