Theories of Architecture and Urbanism

Table of Content


Abdul Harris Othman was born in Pokok Sena, Kedah on 4th April 1957. He grew up in Jitra, Kedah and started to prosecute his survey in Australia in 1975 after he won the Colombo Plan Scholarship. He returned to Malaysia after 10 old ages to function the state. He has designated as Principal designer of KLCC and the designer of record for Petronas Twin towers in the twelvemonth of 1992. Armed with these experiences, he established his ain architectural pattern with the aim to supply first architectural and urban design services.

Designed by Abdul Harris Othman, the Serendah House is located at the Serendah territory, Rawang in Malaysia. The house attempts to make a new genre for residential architecture that meets the modern modern-day demands of client but at the same clip presents the state heritage and individuality. This house has nominated for several awards globally such as the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for 2005-2007 rhythm and the ARCASIA Gold Medal Award 2003

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This paper attempts to convey an apprehension of the architect’s architectural theory through the observation and analysis of Serendah Houe. Using this architecture as primary text, this undertaking is to analyse and analyze the Serendah House in relation to its relevant architectural theories, societal, cultural and rational context.



The Serendah House is located at the border of a golf class, next to a wood modesty. Situating in the thick of a wood hill, the design has a great potency in incorporating the climatic factors into its spacial and massing planning.

First and first, the major infinites in the house such as the chief deck, life and dining country and the maestro sleeping room are designed confronting to west to capture the green position and the beauty of the Sun set. We have known that the long facade of a edifice facing to east and west will increase the heat addition of the house. However, the west side of the selected site is surrounded by abundant of trees. The designer used the advantage of the site to orientate most of the major infinites confronting west to border a romantic position to the house. Due to the ideal geographical contour, the trees surrounded besides act as the shading devices for infinites like maestro sleeping room, gallery and the chief deck. For the facade confronting east which is non covered by trees, the designer has minimized the gaps to cut down heat addition into the house.

Despite the assistance of the bing trees, the design of the roof construction with deep roof eaves, wickets, louvres and operable folding door at the facade besides provide shade over Sun yet let indirect natural visible radiation to perforate the interior infinites. The living country, dining country, chief deck, gallery and maestro sleeping rooms are besides designed to be unfastened or with big gaps to catch the prevailing air current, therefore the house gets first-class airing.

The house was designed around the natural contour and bing trees. Assortment of gaps, Windowss timber wickets, roof spreads and louvres that positioned to be confronting the prevailing zephyr provide maximal transverse airing while the hot air will be drawn upwards, to be dispelled through the air current tower. The suites in the house are stacked up non merely for the intent of stack consequence airing but besides to cut down the impact to the wood. Sometimes, the house will acquire excessively blowy at the hillside during dark clip as the chief infinites are confronting the optimal air current way. The encircled trees are happened to be the natural parka at this point.

Besides, the designer has intelligently integrated the benefit of the site contour in be aftering the drainage of the house. The broad overhang eaves aid to cast the rain H2O and the deep angle roof directs the rain H2O to the margin without the usage of troughs into the wood, reduced the impact of building to the environing wood.

The designer has designed a roof garden extension with a studio infinite below it for the house. The green roof is non merely a great chilling device for the studio below ; it is besides an attack in returning the green land to the nature.


The client of the Serendah house influenced the design of the house physically and spiritually. The client, Nor Aliza Abu Bakar is an creative person with strong sensitiveness to her Malays tradition and Muslim roots, a modern yet dynamic concern adult female. To do this architecture more interesting is that the client besides happened to be the married woman of the designer. Both of them shared a batch of similarities that influenced the design of the house. The purpose of the design purpose is to make a separation between the “real universe ” and the “illusion” . Harmonizing to the perceptual experience of the client, her ‘real world’ is her private universe and female parent nature whereby the ‘illusion’ is mentioning to the mundane, public, work, pandemonium and day-to-day swot.

In accomplishing the construct of the client, the entryway door, tower and walls at the signifier a symbolic and physical boundary between the two universes. The heavy mass entryway tower contrasts with the visible radiation and aired atmosphere inside, supplying a feeling of come ining the private kingdom for the client. The openness interior infinites that exposed to the beauty of the nature blurred the boundaries between interior and outside, so the client can be in touch with the nature peacefully, reminding her fugitive presence in this planet. In order to heighten the major infinites quality, the private infinites that ruling the private activities of the client such as maestro sleeping room and studio for the client are exposed to the juicy verdure positions. As the client is an creative person, she is able to work in her studio that surrounded by verdure position, as a manner to acquire inspiration.

The privateness of the client is concerned while be aftering the layout of the house. Due to the topography contour which is at the border of a hill side confronting the jungle, the client can bask different beds of forest position while standing in different place in the house. The upper portion of the house offers a dramatic distant wood position and it is continuously cooled by the prevailing zephyr, picturing a restful atmosphere while the private infinites such as the maestro sleeping room and studio are positioned at the lower land exposed to the nearest wood positions, offering the closest existent nature image to the client. Therefore, the noise from the exterior, public and semi-private country of the house at the upper land floor degree ( entrance degree ) can be minimize to the lower limit through the well-designed spatial layout, meanwhile it meets the construct of ‘real world’ and ‘illusion’ by the separation of difficult and soft landscape, public and private country.

To complement the individuality of the client, the designer borrowed the infinites such as ‘serambi’ the gallery, ‘pangkin’ the raised platform and ‘para’ ventilated kitchen shelves from the traditional slang campong house into the Serendah House. The ground of making that is because the designer and client both have a common apprehension towards their civilization and background. Hence the design of the house must be relevant to their Malayans civilization yet run into their modern life style and needs as to supply the sense of belonging.


Based onThe Phenomenon of Place by Christian Noberg-Schulz, architecture should hold the ability to do the environment meaningful through the creative activity of specific topographic points. ( Norberg-Schulz, 1995 ) The Serendah House can be defined as a meaningful topographic point for the client as it is her escape path for her day-to-day hustle modus operandi. The designer has designed harmonizing to the human experience alternatively of barely functional agreement of infinites. The client’s needs, her backgrounds and her thought have been taken into consideration in making a piece of architecture that belongs to her but non merely a conventional house.

The ‘genius loci’ of the Serendah House introduced the spirit of a Malayan house that situated at the hill side exposed to the forest positions. The designer to the full utilized the advantage of site in making the religious topographic point for the client by unfastened up the position to the tropical alcoholic verdure, bring in the female parent nature into the house. One of the maestro jury fromGold Medal, ARCASIA Award 2003has explained that:

“This house has a strong physical presence. But at the same clip it has blended harmoniously with the cragged nature of the site and surroundings…the sensitiveness towards different spacial elements are all manifested into a fantastic expression”

The Serendah House enhances the spirit of nature scene, denotes a life to the hilly side by infixing the client’s experience into it. In order to make sense of topographic point for the client, the designer has meticulously positioning every infinites in the house based on the clime, societal and cultural context. The distant hills and verdure provide ocular pleasance while the zephyr gives alleviation from the energy salvaging run downing humidness of the metropolis. The silence of the wood is a great assistance for relaxation. The designer has successfully gives the infinite a specific character. When the client lives indoors, she will be able to orientate herself, and has individuality herself with the environment.

The client is able to orientate herself, has individuality about how she is in the topographic point. As an creative person, the house is designed in such manner that allowed her to prosecute her ain ‘private’ universe closest to the Mother Nature. The client herself stated that the house has a harmonious balance and trade with paradoxes. It is cosmopolitan yet personal, non intrusive and non overpowering. She is satisfied as the house met her demands both spiritually and functionally.

Based on the Prospects for a Critical Regionalism by Kenneth Frampton, intercrossed universe civilization will merely came into being through a cross fertilisation between frozen civilization on the one manus and cosmopolitan civilisation on the other. ( Frampton, 1995 ) Therefore, in denoting a new genre of Malayan lodging architecture, Harris has blended the state heritage individuality into the design while accommodating the modern-day societal demands of a house. He believes that a good piece of architecture in this epoch should be able to talk a local yet cosmopolitan linguistic communication.

For Serendah House, it deals with the paradoxes. From the transmutation of the stiff concreteness at the entryway tower to the interior dynamic infinites with openness program reveal the combination of the attacks of the designer in uniting the slang and modern architecture together. The usage of concrete construction for the tower and chief construction reveals the cosmopolitan linguistic communication for modern-day architectural stuffs while the lumber construction represents the tropical civilization scene of the house in Malaysia.

Critical regionalism suggests the usage of local stuffs and craftmanship, and reactivity to visible radiation and and clime. In this instance, the designer has extensively used the local stuffs such as chengal lumber, ,resak lumber, belian lumber herpes zosters wood, and sand rock slate floors to showcase the presence of the house in response to the tropical scene. He has the designer has intelligently integrated the local stuffs with modern lodging architecture that response to climatic factors.

The incursion of natural visible radiation and cross airing through the lumber wickets, lourves and turn uping door show the integrating of basic cardinal elements rule of the peculiar site in farther enhancing that the design is a site-specific architecture. The house is non intended to simply denote the slang ; it does combined interaction of clime, civilization and trade that express the critical regional individuality.

Discussion and Decision

Serendah House has no uncertainty in stand foring its designing designer, Abdul Harris Othman. Overviewing from his childhood background, educational exposure and working experiences, the award winning Serendah House shows his architectural perceptual experience and theories towards architecture today. From the analysis of the external contributing above, the attacks of the designer in planing the Serendah House have been implemented exhaustively from climatic facet, the demands of clients, contextual and senses facets. It is decidedly a state house that represents the Malaysia context architecture yet non abandoning the cognition that he learned from the West about the modern architecture theory.

The house might hold paradoxes in uniting the modern and common architecture. At the first glimpse, one might experience it looks excessively traditional or symbolical to Malay’s common architecture while most lodging these yearss have taken the modern modern-day subject to their place redevelopment design and the traditional elements of the state are hardly seeable except in the types of ornaments used within the place itself in Malaysia.

The signifier of the roof of the Serendah house is chiefly influenced by the architect’s background that exposed to a batch of transverse civilization tradition such as Bidayuh and Thai. Through his extensively travel experience, he besides aware the transmutation of modern architecture and the importance of cultural individuality of a state. His sensitiveness towards cultural context inspires him to come across with a design that fulfills the modern and cultural heritage individuality. Our ain state tends to pretermit the ain unique individuality by seting the postmodern design construct without sing whether it is contextually suited or non. In fact, architecture in Malaysia or in tropical regional context should be incorporating the modern functional design yet uniting with the local context individuality.

The hybridisation of the functional modern design standards and the spirit of the contextual siteshould be farther heightening in the lodging architecture in Malaysia. The signifier of the Serendah House might be non every bit appealing as other lodging design, but its meaning evokes the liquors of the tropical alcoholic forest Malaysia context that able to remind one’s presence in the planet when you been to the house. Harris has taken a great enterprise in conveying a new coevals of Malaysia residential architecture which can be identified globally as a great piece of Malaysia Architecture but non simply a great piece of architecture. The construct ofmastermind venueis exellently adapted.


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