Syah Kamaruddin on innovative design & architecture

Syah Kamaruddin joined VERITAS Architects in 2012 as a Project Architect, and was promoted to an Associate in 2016, and later as a Senior Associate in 2018. He is a Corporate Member of the Board of Architects Malaysia and the Malaysian Institute of Architects. At VERITAS, Kamaruddin focuses mainly on special hospitality projects, sustainable high-rise buildings, and bespoke residential properties. His focus is also to ensure comprehensive sustainability design solutions within the VERITAS Design Group.

How do you define innovative design and architecture?

Innovative design and architecture evolve to adapt to sustainable requirements and challenges in providing utmost human comfort without compromising impacts to the environment.

What drives innovation in design and architecture?

I think this is built-in into our genetic requirements to improve, adapt and discover how to constantly improve the well-being of our lives and environment, either economic, social, political, or environmental requirements. Therefore, innovation is inevitable to ensure that design and architecture continue to provide the best solution we could afford for a better quality of our living environment.

How has the government of Malaysia supported innovation in the BE sector?

Currently, I do not think the government is driving innovation in the construction-built environment enough to elevate this industry higher. There are efforts to ensure the built environment is green/sustainable, and use safe building materials but our building codes are still not updated with today’s built-environment requirements.

Many believe that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated innovation and digital transformation. To what extent do you agree?

I completely agree—with the pandemic limiting our physical access to our works, I am pleasantly surprised at the acceleration of digital transformation in our daily lives and work where things can move faster and more seamlessly in so many ways. Digital meetings are crossing borders and boundaries, and could diligently be recorded to continue to safeguard our interests as professionals. We are still far behind to ensure that these contractual issues are watertight but available and future technologies will take care of that.

As access to construction sites are limited and restrictive, drones and live video monitoring are increasingly used to record construction activities and ensure safety surveillance is observed at all times without having to be at these high-risk environments.

What most recent and fundamental innovations applied in high-rise buildings construction?

Building Information Modelling (BIM) has already been widely discussed and continues to be critical in building construction works. This is pivotal in seeing 3D construction early on in the stage of design up to project implementation and completion through a collaborative environment with all design professionals and other construction stakeholders.

Increasingly, the use of Lidar technology in complex and high-rise building constructions will help to access challenging construction areas and height when physical inspections are not possible to monitor construction works, map potential construction problems, and increase efficiency by reducing physical inspections. Architects could closely monitor construction activities via live feed remotely from their offices.

How do you define sustainable design?

Similar to my belief that Architecture is a Human Right—complimentary in my holistic approach to life is sustainability. Every decision impacts directly on the survival of humanity, and it is essential in applications of design strategies to reduce negative impact to the built environment. Being an architect, we are responsible to consider sustainable design when planning and application of our projects.

And this concept is true to other factors in life—sustainable design is the life balancer in all major concepts in life, be it family, health, recreation, and others in creating a healthy and tangible living environment whilst aiming to minimize the use of human resources, environmental impacts, and energy consumption and optimize resource efficiencies.

How do you translate a sustainability agenda into a design concept?

The basic sustainability agenda is a passive design approach—in building orientation, managing or harnessing natural lighting and ventilation. However, this may not be fully applicable in the context of complex architecture, and this is usually enhanced by active sustainability components like the use of energy-efficient light fittings and energy-efficient glass façade, and use of ‘green’ building materials (sustainably-sourced timber, carpet, paint, et al) and recycled materials.

In addition to that, renewable and recycled energy is also infused into design concepts early to benefit from design and technical integration so architects could work with the technical aesthetics, such as the wind turbine and solar panels into the building form.

What do you hope to see in the Malaysia BE sector in the next five to ten years?

Firstly, I wish to see improved standards in building safety regulations and practice across the board, either for fire safety, disabled people, children safety, and public surveillance, as well as sustainable design to be standard design requirements for all new buildings as building energy requirements continue to be the largest contributor to the environmental problems. These two factors would essentially trigger design innovation in architecture, and drive sustainable agendas forward on a global scale.

– Construction+ Asia