An eclectic clash of architectural styles separates the distinct programmes of the mixed-use development Empire Damansara, writes Iliyas Ong.
10 April, 2014
The Damansara Perdana township of Petaling Jaya in Malaysia, has transformed from a local suburb into a commercial and residential centre for the well-heeled. A host of new developments, from shopping malls to luxury condominiums, has sprouted up in the past decade. Among the more recent projects is Empire Damansara, a mixed-use property whose distinct programmes encapsulate the district’s vibrancy and dynamism.
Designed by ONG&ONG, Empire Damansara houses a hotel, SOHO units, corporate offices, residences and a lifestyle ‘village’—comprising entertainment, retail and F&B establishments—within its five towers. To reflect the diversity of the complex and to ensure it cuts a striking figure in the neighbourhood, the architecture firm used a mixture of facades and treatments in each block. Tying the varied styles together is ONG&ONG’s bold, playful and contemporary approach to the project.
Each of the five towers bears a prominent and individual facade. One of the two SOHO blocks, for instance, has a faceted and perforated exterior that cages the building. On the other hand, the hotel’s frontage is vertically lined with copper-coloured strips that catch the light at different angles. And yet another block has a wave feature clinging onto the tall red outlines on its facade.
If it weren’t for their shared extroversion and amenities—each block has a theatre and sky deck—the towers would appear to have irreconcilable identities.
Standing in even greater contrast to the high-rises is the lifestyle village, which connects the five towers in a central courtyard. The heritage-themed space borrows the aesthetic of old warehouses; think bare brick walls and heavy-duty black staircases with ornate balustrades. As a gesture of authenticity, ONG&ONG specially imported recycled bricks from China for the village.
Walk around the village and you might feel as though you’ve been transported back a century—until you come to a corridor sheltered by an array of umbrellas in a kaleidoscope of colours. The brollies dangle from a wire mesh suspended across the open passageway, enlivening the otherwise brutal industrial space and complementing the eclectic facades of the tower blocks.
The podium car park is an architectural landmark in its own right
A podium car park in the heart of the complex rounds off the buildings found in Empire Damansara. Rather than settling the car park down on the outskirts of the complex, ONG&ONG recessed it from the street. According to the firm, this was to ensure the complex was porous enough for pedestrians to access it from all directions of the site.
For a neighbourhood that is flourishing because of its diverse typologies and programmes, Empire Damansara may well be the jewel in its midst.
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