Sungai Buloh–Kajang (SBK) MRT Line: Underground Works

The new Klang Valley MRT Sungai Buloh– Kajang (SBK) Line opened on 17 July 2017, marking a new milestone for Malaysia’s transit architecture, underground engineering and tunnelling works.

According to Tricia Low, design manager of MMC Gamuda KVMRT (T) Sdn Bhd (MGKT), this project marked many ‘firsts’, including being the first underground tunnelling and MRT project by a Malaysian team.

The second phase of the SBK Line covers 30 kilometres and 19 stations, seven of which are underground. The design of these underground stations is a result of a partnership between international teams Aecom and Mott MacDonald, the overall architectural consultants, and Malaysian firms VERITAS Architects and NEUformation Architects.

The Aecom–VERITAS team was in charge of the Muzium Negara, Pasar Seni, Merdeka and Bukit Bintang stations, while the Mott MacDonald– NEUformation team worked on the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX), Cochrane and Maluri stations.

The overarching design concept for the underground stations was inspired by the 16-kilometre Klang Gates Quartz Ridge, the world’s longest pure quartz dyke. The multi-faceted quartz’s kaleidoscopic reflections mirror Malaysia’s racial and cultural diversity. This essence is captured and incorporated into the transparent, reflective and angular ground-level station entrance structures.

The seven stations also boast individual design themes for their interiors, which have been carefully chosen to bring out the identity and historical contexts of the stations’ locations.

The Muzium Negara station, wedged between the historical national museum and the modern KL Sentral integrated development, has a Transition theme. At the station’s concourse levels, there are five glass-clad columns depicting the development of the city’s public transportation, from past to present.

The Pasar Seni station’s Confluence theme pays tribute to the founding spot of Kuala Lumpur—where the Klang and Gombak rivers meet—with its stylised ‘Y’ design applied in the station’s interior and maps showing the growth of the city from the 1850s to present day. This station also links seamlessly with the light rail transit (LRT) and intercity buses.

The Merdeka station is an embodiment of the spirit of Independence, thanks to its location close to the historical Stadium Merdeka, where the independence of the Federation of Malaya was proclaimed. Insta-worthy feature walls in the station commemorate the declaration of Independence and the Rukun Negara (the national principles).

Situated at the crossroads of Jalan Bukit Bintang and Jalan Sultan Ismail, the Bukit Bintang station carries a Dynamic theme, personifying the energy and vitality of the area. A high-volume feature wall, composed of trapezoidal geometry in different vibrant tones of red, represents the movement and liveliness of the city.

The largest and deepest underground station is the TRX station, which serves as an interchange between the SBK line and the future Sungai Buloh–Serdang–Putrajaya MRT line (SSP line). As the future TRX City is positioned as an Islamic finance centre, the station was designed along the same lines, with Islamic motifs in the columns, walls and ceilings, set within a contemporary, corporate ambience.

The Cochrane station is located within a more residential area, hence the design portrays a softer Urban Living vibe, with vibrant forms and harmonious colours within the entrance and interior design. There is an underground link to Ikea Cheras and a pedestrian link to the Sunway Velocity commercial-residential development.

The Maluri station is located in an old part of town that is undergoing rapid urban renewal. To complement the setting, the team designed the station around a New Generation theme, with a lighter, more playful character and feel. This station integrates with the Maluri LRT station right above it.

With transit architecture, apart from aesthetics, other key factors include safety, ease of use and maintenance costs. The design intent, says Low, is to provide clear, easy access and an intuitive layout to reduce users’ dependence on way finding signages. For example, to differentiate the seven platforms, the design team decided to apply different colour codes for each station. This allows passengers to easily differentiate and recognise which station they are at.

The stations also have provisions for existing and future links to other buildings, ensuring the continued connectivity and relevance of the public transportation system within the city. For example, the TRX station has a completed linked passage to the future TRX City (hidden behind a temporary wall), while the Maluri station has a covered passage that will be linked to the future AEON Maluri.

Six out of the seven new stations connect with another railway system, with three paid-to-paid links, which improves public transport connectivity in the city. All stations are also built with handicapped-friendly walkways, elevators and restrooms, along with bicycle and motorcycle parking. Park-N-Ride facilities are available at the Maluri station.

To encourage public participation in this major infrastructure project, a design contest for students was held in 2016, calling for submissions of bench designs for the underground stations. Some 133 entries, from 19 institutions of higher learning, were received, out of which, six functional yet stylish benches were chosen to be installed.

The materials chosen for the stations have to be durable, require minimal maintenance and be able to withstand a high degree of wear-and-tear. These include granite tile flooring, aluminium and glass wall cladding, which are easy to maintain and replace. No timber is used in the underground stations due to fire-safety guidelines for enclosed spaces.

One issue that needed fine-tuning was the placement of signages, as users have different perceptions of what is ‘easy to understand’, according to Yap Seh Cheong, architectural manager of MGKT. After the stations were completed, the signages had to be moved from their original placements to more strategic locations, such as at the entrances/exits and elevators.

Project Name: Sungai Buloh–Kajang (SBK) MRT Line: Underground Works
Completion Date: 17 July 2017
Station Depth:
Muzium Negara: 24 metres
Pasar Seni: 25 metres
Merdeka: 31.5 metres
Bukit Bintang: 33.4 metres
TRX: 45 metres
Cochrane: 30 metres
Maluri: 24 metres
Client/Owner: Mass Rapid Transit Corporation Sdn Bhd
Architecture Firms: Aecom–VERITAS Architects; Mott MacDonald–NEUformation Architects
Main Contractor: MMC Gamuda KVMRT (T) Sdn Bhd
Images: MMC Gamuda KVMRT (T) Sdn Bhd وان ایکس بت بت فوروارد