ILHAM Tower brings together a variety of spaces for living and working in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, all within the compact footprint of a 58-storey, 275-metre-high tower—one of the tallest mixed-use developments in the city.

Designed by Foster + Partners, the distinctive tower is a dramatic union of sleek glass, steel accents and greenery. Grade A office suites occupy 29 floors on the lower portion, centred on a dramatic three-storey atrium, with hotel serviced apartments above—these two functions have individual entrance lobbies at the ground level on either side of the building. The tower also houses an art gallery, commercial units and recreational facilities, as well as penthouses at the very top, which are oriented for the best views of the city centre skyline.

Extending the public realm, the building is set back from the perimeter of the site and poised on a slender base to create a generous, tree-lined plaza that reaches into the atrium. The glazed façades are pulled back to shade the entrances and create an impressive arrival sequence.

The challenge of designing such a significant high-rise scheme was to relate to the large, urban scale, as well as attending to the details—close-up, the façade is rich and finely tuned to shade the interiors and to provide high-quality living spaces.

The tower’s geometry is driven by the need for flexible, column-free spaces to accommodate its mixture of functions. Its form is equally shaped by the climate and urban context—the diamond-shaped plan increases the living spaces with views of key city landmarks, and the façades tilt away from the morning and evening sun to reduce solar gain.

The tower features a large open sky terrace, which reaches up 40 metres in height and provides al fresco dining options and uninterrupted city views. This is made possible by the tower’s innovative, self-bracing diagrid structure. A void was created to house the sky terrace by pulling back the façade of the 30th to 40th storeys. Steel structures were used for part of these floors, and weight was distributed via hanging columns anchored on the 41st floor, with each floor supported by the one above it. The construction of the structural system was one of the main challenges due to its height and minimal installation space.

The stainless steel-clad structure, the geometry of the triangulated glass panels and the shading systems are all integrated to create a powerful, unified form. Following the profile of the structure, shading is provided by diagonal brise-soleil across each façade, oriented in response to the sun’s path to protect the interiors from solar heat gain, and glare is reduced by an opaque frit on the high-performance glazing.

The structural solution also minimises the material required for construction and, therefore, the building’s embedded energy, contributing to the project’s target BCA Green Mark GoldPLUS rating.

Other notable Green features include carbon dioxide (CO2) sensors to monitor indoor and carpark air quality, energy-saving light fittings and group lighting controls, and rainwater harvesting and non-chemical water treatment.

Project Name: ILHAM Tower
Location: 8, Jalan Binjai, Kuala Lumpur
Completion Date: March 2017 (CCC)
Site Area: 8,250 square metres
Gross Floor Area: 1 million square feet
Building Height: 275 metres
Client/Owner: IB Tower Sdn Bhd
Design Consultant: Foster + Partners, London
Collaborating Architect: SA Architects Sdn Bhd
Director-in-Charge: Richard Sau
Interior Design Firm: ACID Pte Ltd
Civil & Structural Engineer: TY Lin International Sdn Bhd
Mechanical & Electrical Engineer: Jurutera Perunding Valdun Sdn Bhd
Quantity Surveyor: Arcadis (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd
Landscape Architect: Walrus Design Sdn Bhd
Main Contractor: Daewoo E&C
Substructure Contractor: Geopancar Sdn Bhd
Basement Contractor: Dian Makmur Sdn Bhd
Basement Formwork Systems: PERI Formwork Malaysia Sdn Bhd
Building Formwork Systems: Doka Formwork Malaysia Sdn Bhd
Images: Nigel Young; Foster + Partners