ISKL Ampang Hilir Campus

Sited on more than 25 acres in Ampang Hilir, the International School of Kuala Lumpur’s (ISKL) new campus will be ready for 1,800 students—from kindergarten through Grade 12—when it opens its doors in August 2018, with an ultimate capacity of 2,500 students.

“The design brief, as supported by the ISKL board of directors, has remained constant over the years since the project was first conceived—and that was to create a unified campus for all school divisions, which incorporates the latest in flexible learning spaces to support 21st-century learning and promotes sustainable practices,” says Dave Perrau, ISKL’s director of project operations.

Following a design competition, US-based HOK International was appointed as lead designer for the concept and schematic stages of the project before handing over to VERITAS Architects locally to compete the detailed design.

A central element of the design brief was that the new campus be designed as a modern re-interpretation of Malay architectural tradition, where the overall campus is sympathetic to the climate and its surroundings, and as a a living facility where key areas and features can be used as teaching tools. The physical structure features brick façade elements in a songket pattern, and an east-west orientation of the main teaching blocks to provide natural shading and a view of the Kuala Lumpur skyline.

The purpose-built campus offers a range of academic, athletics and arts facilities. There are state-of-the-art technology and science laboratories, indoor and outdoor sports complexes, and an aquatic centre featuring learn-to- swim, competition and Olympic-sized pools. The performing arts centre includes a 650-seat theatre, 250-seat purpose-built concert recital hall, a Black Box theatre, 600-seat elementary theatre and an external amphitheatre.

Teaching areas have been intentionally designed around large common spaces, which allows for interclass collaboration, presentations, chill-out or reflective spaces, to support all kinds of learners.

The school has been designed to achieve GBI Platinum rating with many elements, from chilled floor stabs for cooling to rainwater harvesting.

In line with GBI Platinum requirements, every effort has been made to source materials locally. The school engaged with local manufacturers and supply chain to develop materials according to its specifications and needs, with price and quality as the main evaluation criteria.

As part of the school’s commitment to sustainability, the brief for space planning for the furniture fitments and equipment (FF&E) required the designers to re-use and transfer existing furniture, rather than dispose, and to creatively upcycle many items to complement a modern setting.

Running across the south-east corner of the site is a reserve for the Smart Tunnel drainage system, which provided a challenge for the design team in orientating the buildings without impinging on the reserve.

Budget was also a key challenge in translating the brief into the space planning. ISKL is a non-profit school governed by a volunteer parent board of directors, who have been insistent on the project staying within its RM365 million budget and being delivered on time.

To do so, there was a need to revisit the design and optimise the space planning, which reduced the gross floor area by about 15,000 square metres. Originally, the external feature envelope for the front of the school was envisaged as a full brick solution, but when market tested during the design stage, it exceeded the budget. The school then worked closely with its designers and contractor to develop a hybrid system that captures the timeliness of brick, interspersed with modern aluminium-coloured vertical fins.

A dedicated team within the school has also been working to raise private money through reaching out to its community to support enhancements of selected spaces, which fell outside the budget.

Project Name: ISKL Ampang Hilir Campus
Location: Jalan Ampang Hilir, Ampang, Kuala Lumpur
Expected Completion: June 2018
Site Area: 26.9 acres
Gross Floor Area: about 95,000 square metres
Owner: The International School of Kuala Lumpur
Architecture Firm: VERITAS Architects
Principal Architect: Ng Yiek Seng
Interior Design Firm: Spacezero International
Principal Designer: Zhu Jinn Wan
Civil & Structural Engineer: AECOM
Mechanical & Electrical Engineer: AECOM
Quantity Surveyor: Baharuddin Ali & Low
Lighting Consultant: AECOM
Landscape Architect: VERITAS Landscaping
Green Building Consultant: VERITAS Environmental
Main Contractor: Sunway Construction
Images: HOK International Ltd