Pohon Budi means the tree of life in Malay. In this project, the name symbolises a sanctuary that connects people of different ages, races and social statuses. Taking into account marginalised groups such as the homeless and former sex workers of Chow Kit, one of the oldest towns in central Kuala Lumpur, the community centre seeks to improve the ways they live, learn, work and interact with one another through a sustainable and vibrant space. It will also serve as a platform for the public to gather and exchange information about the town.
The goal of the centre is to be fully managed and operated by the local marginalised people to help them reintegrate into society independently. They can be empowered to be more competent, confident and positive-minded through participating in the programmes and operating the centre, with a better sense of belonging to the community. Moreover, the programmes provided at the centre should be self-sustaining so that no financial support from an external party is required.
The design of the project aims to enhance the urban fabric by blending the architecture with, and adding vibrancy to, the neighbourhood. All the existing trees around the site will be maintained to minimise impact to the area. With a cascading façade appearance, the centre will be integrated with the surrounding low buildings harmoniously for a less intrusive effect. It will also be equipped with a rainwater harvesting system; a photovoltaic system; passive cooling; as well as natural ventilation and daylighting systems to pursue sustainability.
Pohon Budi—Community Centre for the Marginalised
Chow Kit (168 Jalan Abdul Rahman Idris), Malaysia
2,289 square metres
Gross Floor Area
1,900–2,000 square metres
Number of Rooms
46 rooms with toilets; 34 rooms without toilets
4 storeys (18.5 square metres)
Tan Yee Qi’ao
School of Architecture, Building and Design, Taylor’s University
Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Architecture
Ar Prince Favis Isip
Marginalised people of Chow Kit
Tan Yee Qi’ao
This is an excerpt. The original article is published in
Construction+ Q3 2023 Issue: The inside of architecture/built structures.
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