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City&Country: J + H Boiffils to design iconic development in Bukit Jelutong

Sime Darby Sunrise Development Sdn Bhd (SDSD) has appointed internationally acclaimed French architectural firm J + H Boiffils to design its 21-acre mixed development project in Bukit Jelutong, Shah Alam.

The yet-to-be-named RM1 billion development is situated in the planned 180-acre Bukit Jelutong Commercial Centre (BJCC).

J + H Boiffils, in collaboration with Colorado-based Randy Shortridge of RB + B, was chosen as its design proposal best fulfils the vision of the project, says SDSD.

The French firm was shortlisted following its design proposal presentations in August, together with four other architectural firms — Denmark’s BIG, which designed the much-acclaimed Danish Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo 2010; Benoy, which designed ION Orchard in Singapore; Singapore’s DP Architects, which designed Orchard Central also in Singapore; and Malaysia’s Hijjas Kasturi.

J + H Boiffils designed Siam Paragon and Crystal Design Center in Bangkok, Thailand.

“Siam Paragon was one of the biggest shopping malls in the world at that time while Crystal Design Center was, for us, an opportunity to develop a new style of shopping centre in a tropical climate, mixing outdoor and indoor circulations. The 21-acre site [in Bukit Jelutong] is a sufficient size to give us the possibility to test new ideas for new urban solutions,” says the founder and president of J + H Boiffils, Jacqueline Boiffils.

“Our design delivers intelligent solutions and balances out the commercial, social and ecological demands. Our aspiration is to create an exciting retail experience, emphasising pedestrian streets and plazas,” she adds.

She believes the diversity of the firm’s multi-cultural team from Venezuela, Thailand, China, US and Europe, and the expertise of its architects, interior designers and designers, allow it to take on such high-scale projects.

The Bukit Jelutong project will have retail spaces, offices and serviced apartments to be built over five phases. The proposed design concept is based on a South European or Mediterranean way of life, influenced by the mixed cultures of Malaysians. The main features include a large tree-lined pedestrian promenade with kiosks and plazas surrounded by coffee shops and restaurants as well as a park which the whole family can enjoy.

The design also allows its anchor tenants to be in three separate areas, for instance, a supermarket at the base of the serviced apartments, an entertainment complex and a design centre for home decor.

“Our intention is to create a sense of belonging, a centre of civic life and community, truly a gathering place and focus for the entire Bukit Jelutong area and beyond. We proposed the name ‘Le Faubourg’ for the project. In France, a faubourg is a quarter close to the city. The quarter eventually becomes part of the city yet maintains its own identity,” Boiffils explains.

While the firm has been present in Asia for over 15 years, the Bukit Jelutong project will be its first in Malaysia. It will be a great opportunity for the firm to venture into the Malaysian market, says Boiffils.

“Our hope is that it will give us the opportunity to have a base in this part of the world because the openness to creative architecture in Asia is extremely motivating. Our 15 years in Asia, first in Thailand then in Hong Kong, Japan and China, has been rewarded by this appointment,” she adds.
SDSD, a 50:50 joint-venture between Sime Darby Bhd and Sunrise Bhd, expects the project, with a gross built-up area of 2.7 million sq ft, to be fully completed in seven years from the launch of the first phase, which is targeted for 2H2011.

“We are pleased that the architects have been able to translate the concept of sustainable living into their design. Besides successfully articulating our values and aspirations, the design complements the current development and living concept in Bukit Jelutong,” says Sime Darby Property Bhd managing director Datuk Tunku Putra Badlishah. “I am confident that the residents of Bukit Jelutong and its neighbouring areas will appreciate the value this landmark development will bring to their community.”

Sunrise executive chairman Datuk Tong Kooi Ong adds: “Often, it is the most simple and straightforward solution that offers the highest potential for embracing sustainability, in all aspects of a project — from design to construction and its eventual operation.”

Tong says SDSD is committed to collaborating with like-minded architects and working with leading designers on its first integrated residential and commercial project in Bukit Jelutong that focuses on the ecological principles of architecture.

The heart of the development will feature a central park and a series of unique landscape elements and public spaces, including a tree-lined promenade, plazas, a covered pedestrian boulevard and a sprawling recreational deck planned around a “racetrack” design principle. Each phase and component will have its own surprise element exuding strong individualism yet existing in harmony within its entire context.

Sustainability is one of the fundamental and core principles in the entire design process.

Says Tong: “Passive design considerations are taken into account from the start of the development conceptualisation. Key elements such as building orientation, massing arrangements, permeability to encourage natural air flow and maximum utilisation of natural ventilation will be considered and incorporated whenever possible ... knowing that these are the criteria that offer the most potential for attaining sustainability without the need to lavishly spend on buying green technologies and in the process consuming even more natural resources.

“We are working with a renowned sustainability consultant to explore how the natural features of the site and the surrounding can be best utilised, such as maintaining the natural site terrain, utilising stormwater as a landscape feature, having the recreational deck double as the green roof of retail spaces and so on.”

The developer will also be trying out some new modelling and simulation tools for the study of the urban heat island effect, micro-climate analysis and others to identify areas of concern to ensure optimum comfort for the occupants.

The 2,200-acre Bukit Jelutong is a self-contained township located close to the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Golf Club and the Bukit Cahaya Seri Alam Agricultural Park and easily accessible to other townships in the Klang Valley via expressways.

This article appeared in City & Country, the property pullout of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 835, Dec 6-12, 2010

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