Winner of Schools Category | Malaysia | BCI Asia Interior Design Awards 2018
Ten years after it was first completed, the Kompleks Rakan Muda Puchong has been upgraded into a modern communal hub for youths.
The iM4U Youth Sentral seeks to provide accessible and affordable community facilities for the younger generation. Its new design boasts a more striking and appealing visual presence, incorporates better organised spaces and injects flexible public areas that promote private and public interactions within the premise.
REVAMPING THE OLD
The existing facility sits next to the Puchong Industrial Park, a growing commercial and light industrial area, right next to a new LRT station.
It comprised two building blocks—an administration and hostel block with sub-basement car park, and a sports and events block—linked together with a canvas canopy structure that stretches over ramps, kiosks and seating.
Most of the interior spaces were bricked up with conventional-sized window openings, resulting in minimal visual connection to activities in the building. The internal areas in the sports and events block had large volumetric spaces that were closed up with a low ceiling heights and poor natural lighting.
One of the main changes was the creation of a more welcoming entrance from the main road by demolishing the existing fence and guardhouse along the Damansara–Puchong Highway (LDP). The original main entrance was too close to the LDP flyover exit, hence, a new slip road was introduced to move vehicular access to a safer and more convenient location.
For a fresher look, the designers worked with colours, textures and inexpensive materials. Both buildings sport new façade cladding—vibrant multi-coloured perforated metal panels and vertical gardens—that screen off undesirable views without sacrificing permeability. Transparent materials, such as glass and polycarbonate, replace selected brick walls at selected areas for better natural lighting. Digital and conventional media panels help generate income to support the operation of the complex.
The ‘clutter’ at the central spine has been removed and replaced with a small piazza that unifies the site and connects the two buildings together, while increasing natural daylight and ventilation to the interiors. The piazza also increases leasable frontage for small retail studios and becomes a space for entertainment and recreational activities.
The mixed-use building programme takes advantage of the flexible spaces provided. The administration and hostel block is dubbed the Green Wing, complete with a vertical garden wall façade. It includes an open gallery exhibition space for young artists, retail studios and an international youth hostel. Equipped with virtual studio and office facilities, the Green Wing also serves as the start-up centre for budding careers and the development of various volunteer groups.
The sports and events block is known as the Youth Factory, a centre for cultivating young talent in sports and music. A new platform deck linking the first floor of the Youth Factory with the courtyard below makes the building seem less imposing, while allowing a vehicle-free access to the LRT station. The space beneath the platform allows an F&B drive-through outlet, the insertion of cabin studios at the soffit of the new slab, and additional 35 parking bays. A semi-outdoor wall-climbing facility has been added at the rear entrance.
Sustainable strategies and initiatives include rainwater harvesting, a recycling collection centre, louvered glass windows for natural light and ventilation, and porous surfaces to reduce heat gain.
Many flexible public spaces have been strategically designed within the premise unify people and the buildings. The piazza connects all the site’s amenities with clearly defined rubber turf paths, marked with linear line patterns, to encourage visitors to walk or cycle around. New lifts are introduced to assist the disabled, along with fire escape staircases.
Landscaping plays an important role, with a cluster of Casuarina trees at the piazza for shade, and trees planted along the boundary. Youths were invited to participate in the design outlook, from mural painting to using upcycled and recycled items for feature walls and installations, for a sense of ownership and belonging.
Hip, vibrant and distinctive—the iM4U Youth Sentral has set itself apart as a showcase of what youth volunteer centre can and should be.
Project Name: iM4U Youth Sentral
Location: Taman Perindustrian Puchong, Puchong, Selangor, Malaysia
Completion Date: January 2016
Gross Floor Area: 7,530.85 square metres
The Green Wing: 4 storeys;
The Youth Factory: 2 storeys
Client: 1 Malaysia for Youth
Interior Design Firm: Ooi Design & Associates Sdn Bhd (OD&A)
Lighting Consultant: OD&A
Mechanical & Electrical Engineer: Gabungan APS Holdings
Quantity Surveyor: Gabungan APS Holdings
Interior Fit-Out Contractor: Gabungan APS Holdings