‘Play House’ Physical Disability Rehabilitation Nucleus

The project serves as an all-accessible, integrated all-in-one centre for healing and rehabilitation catering to the physically disabled community in Penang and the Northern Chapter of Malaysia. The purpose of the proposed development is for collaborative learn-and-play, inclusivity and a self-healing community. It is situated on a proposed site of 5 acres in an up-and-coming development named Eco-City in Batu Kawan with panoramic views towards the Penang Strait.

The main target group of the centre is people with physical and/or multiple disabilities of all ages. The proposed design is a complex where four components are amalgamated: the Live component consists of accommodation and clinics; the Learn component is about education; the Work component includes workspace sharing and entrepreneurship; and the Play component relates to recreation and therapy.

The main design approaches seek to embrace fun, which encourages exploration and elevates excitement through playful design elements; and embracing functionality, which aims to understand users’ practicalities and increase the effectiveness of rehabilitation through productive design strategies. The main points captured are to understand, adapt and promote inclusivity through integrating physically disabled people with the wider community and environment.

Orienting towards sustainability and resiliency, the project incorporates renewable energy fittings, rainwater harvesting, recycling strategies and optimising natural daylighting for most of the internal spaces and sensory pods for rehabilitation. Structurally, the design uses a prefabricated reinforced concrete column and beam system, with anodised hollow steel sections for the main roof and bubble deck system for floor slabs.

The centre focuses on the use of play therapy that employs carefully selected therapeutic experiences and physical interactions to enhance sensory integration. The result is an intriguing yet practical playscape that allows users, especially children, to explore and interact with their surroundings. A variety of sensory, exploratory and physical-based play therapy techniques that incorporate all five senses is carefully proposed into the design, such as interactive activity and sensory pod spaces; recreation and sensory gardens; urban farming; water play; hydrotherapy; inclusive playgrounds; virtual reality facilities; and wall-climbing activities. These elements benefit users of all ages and with different levels of disabilities, both indoors and outdoors. — Construction+ Online


Student Name
Aimi Zahirah Binti Zulkarnain
Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang
Master of Architecture
Ar. Vijayalaxmi Nadarajan
Batu Kawan, Seberang Perai, Penang, Malaysia
Site Area
5 acres
Gross Floor Area
35,000 square metres
Building Height
9 storeys
Penang Development Corporation