Built

Professor Dato’ Dr. Kenneth Yeang

BUILDING IMITATE ECOLOGICAL SYSTEMS


I think buildings should imitate ecological systems. Ecological systems in nature before we had human beings interfere with them exist in a state of stasis – they are self-supporting, self-sustaining.

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WORLD’S LEADING GREEN ARCHITECT


Architect & Ecologist

Professor Dr. Ken Yeang is a Malaysian architect and ecologist whose planning and designs have had the constancy of the theoretical framework of ecological and bioclimatic premises for almost 40 years. Beginning his architectural practice in l974, Yeang continues his research and designs by constantly interpreting his theoretical and technical work into actual designs, built projects and master plans around the world. In addition to a fulltime practice that encompasses large scale projects, skyscrapers, and ecomasterplanning, Yeang has been a prolific writer of books about ecodesign and a visiting scholar at universities in Australia, China, Malaysia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States. He apparently has a son called Max and lives in Mayfair. Born in 1948 Penang of Malaysia, Yeang attended Cheltenham College in Gloucestershire, England, received his first qualification in architecture from the Architectural Association in London, and received a PhD in ecological design from Cambridge University (UK. His dissertation was entitled, “A Theoretical Framework for the Ecological Design and Planning of the Built Environment”. As a principal in T. R. Hamzah and Yeang in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, since 1975, he was instrumental in developing the design of passive-mode low energy skyscrapers,as bioclimatic skyscrapers. As a result of his energy conserving innovations, Yeang has designed skyscrapers in London, Singapore, Kuwait, Canada, China, Turkey, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan. The firm has also designed master plans for both sites and multi-building complexes in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Taiwan, and China. Yeang is regarded as the ‘Father’ or ‘Inventor’ of the bioclimatic skyscraper, largely the result of his book ‘The Skyscraper: Bioclimatically Considered’ (1997 John Wiley & Sons). University of Washington Professor Udo Kulterman stated, “Professor Ken Yeang is internationally renowned as the “Father” of the “Sustainable Bioclimatic Buildings”. His bioclimatic buildings extend to low-rise high density and sub-grade structures. Ken Yeang’s architecture is based on his theoretical ecological studies published in The Green Skyscraper: The Basis for Designing Ecological Sustainable Buildings (l999 Prestel) in which he addresses the ecological design of large buildings and skyscrapers. Early work, incorporating bioclimatic principles as passive low-energy design, led to his ecologically sustainable agenda. Early experiments include the Roof-Roof House in Kuala Lumpur (1985), providing a louvered umbrella structure over the building. Yeang’s early focus applies bioclimatic principles to skyscraper design.” In 2005 Yeang became Design Director (and subsequently Chairman in 2010) of the venerable English firm of Llewelyn Davies, which rebranded as Llewelyn Davies Yeang with headquarters in London. The combined firms of Llewelyn Davies Yeang and T. R. Hamzah and Yeang have offices in London, Kuala Lumpur, Shenzen, and Beijing. Theoretical basis of work and impact on architecture and the environment: Ken Yeang is regarded, by his peers, as a man ahead of his time. He recognized 40 years ago that global warming and increased contamination of the environment would adversely affect the natural balance of biodiversity and ecosystems. Applying the ecology based approach to master planning of one of his mentors, Ian McHarg, Yeang has successfully applied those principles to architecture. Yeang uses his concepts of ecodesign in all of his architectural projects. Through constant experimentation over many decades Yeang developed a solid reputation as a pioneer, advocate, and innovator of authentic bioclimatic ecological design. By the mid 1990’s private and public clients around the world have selected him for their ecomasterplans and architectural ecodesigned projects.

Based on the principles of ecomimicry (a term he invented), all of Yeang’s architectural ecodesigns and masterplans achieve a connectivity and benign biointegration between the human built environment and the surrounding ecosystems. The current environmental concerns have produced a generation of architects and engineers who approach “green” design and construction through ecoengineering or simple compliance to green accreditation systems (such as LEED, BREEAM, and Green Globes, for example) around the world. To Yeang, these practices,while relevant and progressive, but do not constitute authentic “green” design in totality. As Yeang stated in his Cambridge University PhD dissertation in the l970’s, “It is easy to be misled or seduced by technology and to think that if we assemble enough eco-gadgetry in the form of solar collectors, photovoltaic cells, biological recycling systems, building-automation systems and double-skin facades in one single building that this can automatically be considered ecological architecture. Although these technologies are commendable applications of low-energy systems, they are merely useful components leading towards ecological architecture; they represent some of the means of achieving an ecological end product. Ecological design is not just about low-energy systems; to be fully effective, these technologies need to be thoroughly integrated into the building fabric; they will also be influenced by the physical, ecological and climatic conditions of the site. The nature of the problem is therefore site specific. There will never be a standard “one size fits all” solution.” As a consequence of his strong beliefs in ecomimicry, Yeang’s design projects focus on achieving benign and seamless biointegration, that includes reduced or zero dependency on non-renewable sources of energy, enhanced ecological nexus through devices such as eco-land bridges, eco-undercrofts, vertical landscaping, ecocells, green living walls, ecological corridors and fingers which reach into the landscape and towards the sky at the same time. Some of the devices he uses in his buitforms include light shelves, light pipes, skycourts, vertical linked enclosed green atriums, and windscoops. They seek to minimize disruptions with the adjoining ecosystems and to maintain the sensitive ecobalance. His most recent advances include the setting of biodiversity targets and the creation of new viable habitats within his builtforms and their surrounds. Yeang’s ecomasterplans establish, through design, a single living system that is both interactive and functional and requires biointegration of four ecoinfrastructural armatures in order to be an overall coherent system: 1) green infrastructure which includes nature’s corridors and networks that link open spaces and the habitats for fauna and flora; 2) grey infrastructure which includes sustainable engineering systems such as roads, sewage, and utilities; 3) blue infrastructure which encompasses hydrological management, water conservation, sustainable drainage, bioswales, filtration strips, retention ponds, and storm water management; 4) red infrastructure which includes the built environment, enclosures, and hardscapes and human socio-economic and political systems. This is a ground breaking approach to ecomasterplanning that provides a general framework that allows an inclusiveness of complex factors, but has a flexibility that slows obsolescence. Ken Yeang’s single minded pursuit of ecodesign through his designs, built works, masterplanning work and writings for close to four decades has influenced countless architects all around the world, as professionals in a wide range of fields not just in the way they approach ecodesign and planning but aesthetically – what a green building should look like.