FGLA 2019 – Jury Comments


Dr Nirmal Kishnani: This is an elegant use of bamboo. The choice of material speaks to a desire to reduce environmental impact. Bamboo is a renewable alternative to hardwoods from tropical forests. Bamboo also offers an experience that is biophilic. From a distance, this appears vernacular-inspired. Up close, it is modern in its details and construction methods.

Ada Fung: In line with its primitive tropical context, Castaway Island resort features the clever use of bamboo structure and thatched roof on a private beach by the sea, blending in with nature and nestled into the cliff with a rhythmic tranquillity. Embeddedness and ecosystems have been carefully considered, such as the reuse of old windows and use of renewable energy.

Dr Jalel Sager: It’s all about the bamboo. While the project has a nice overall look, and employs some serious sustainability measures, it is the bamboo artistry that raises it to a winning level, given the Green merits of the material. The architect here is comfortable as an artist, and the lines of the restaurant and bungalow, with regards to the structural elements, are dreamlike. There is, of course, a deep satisfaction to the eye and soul in the twists of the natural material. There is a parallel sense of respect for the traditional Vietnamese techniques being brought to bear. While we may ask ourselves how many such resorts the world really needs, we cannot deny there is something new, singular and wonderful here.


Dr Nirmal Kishnani: How do we build in an ecologically sensitive site? This submission shows how this can be done with a light touch. The jury debated this at some length and concluded that it is important to recognise a project that pulls back and does less. Less is also an important position in design.

Ada Fung: As a buffer park at the biodiversity core of Singapore, this nature park has achieved more with less, with minimum interference with the 75-hectare green space. The creation of a constructed wetland body helps mitigate flooding through a better control of flows, whilst the regeneration forest, with the planting of native plants and trees, transforms the park into a sanctuary of local biodiversity.

Dr Jalel Sager: The project here is indeed gentle. The visitor-friendly nature walk might be thought of as an easy mark for ecological design, but it is all too easy to get things wrong. This park does most of it well and deftly. While it has an easier Green brief than, say, a commercial project in Jakarta, it quietly accomplishes what it sets out to do, and with a minimalist air that feels refreshing and complete.


Dr Nirmal Kishnani: This is a multi-house development with four houses wrapped around a garden. The treatment of open space, with inviting social areas and landscape quality, is remarkable. Equally exciting is the simplicity and restraint in material use, much of it raw and unprocessed. The overall effect is one of understated elegance, with strong social and passive attributes, enhanced by a low-cost, low-impact material palette.

Ada Fung: Featuring clustered housing grouped around the open space, plus a guesthouse, office and multipurpose room in a rural setting hugging the hillside, this development blends in with the natural landscape with a flexible use of space. It has created a sense of community and a sense of place with social and environmental benefits.

Dr Jalel Sager: This is an interesting project that meets the criteria well; there is little to find fault with. The structures sit so well on the landscape that it can be hard to distinguish them. There was, however, evident thought put into their elegant lines and passive design strategies. There seems to be a strong communal aspect to the project, reflected well in the open spaces. There is a strong biophilic aspect too, and the model for multifamily housing seems replicable. This is another example of a steel support frame providing a kind of modularity and indoor/outdoor feeling. The idea pops up often this year, and this is an elegant realisation of it.


Dr Nirmal Kishnani: The story here is about food. The form of the building is geared towards production, with a highly visible cascade of planter boxes for farming. On examination, the house reveals itself to be more. Inside, there are beautiful spaces with a clever handling of air, light and materiality.

Ada Fung: Featuring a rustic outlook, sustainable lifestyle and urban farming for self-sufficiency, the Planter Box House offers a series of interesting interior living spaces with a clever use of passive design strategies. Application of a bubble deck allows column-free space and cross ventilation in tandem with passive cooling strategies.

Dr Jalel Sager: Planter Box House is a gorgeous realisation of urban farming, coupled with a highly refined interior. The form of the building seems almost temple-like, and this is reinforced by the clean, airy space within. The hand-rendered drawings, coupled with sophisticated building materials such as the bubble deck, are typical of the modern-traditional style here. The project seems replicable, the interior spaces delightful, and the urban gardens appear useful. The bamboo texturing is a characteristically small but important detail.


Dr Nirmal Kishnani: The regeneration of lost ecosystems is important to many parts of Asia, where waterways, in particular, have been contaminated by industry or farming practices. The Puyangjiang River Corridor is an excellent example of how this can be done. Riparian edges are restored with wetlands; the water is cleaned and used to irrigate a large public park. The new social space is activated, in part, by whimsical and Chinese-inspired bridges and walkways that infuse the landscape with a sense of joy.

Ada Fung: The bold statement and its outcome speak for itself. The degraded river corridor in Pujiang, covering 484 acres, has been ecologically recovered and transformed into a lush and high-performing greenway to reconnect human beings with nature through a series of boardwalks. It has preserved existing vegetation and upgraded the water quality of the existing river.

Dr Jalel Sager: This project is subtle in how it functions. Behind a little bit of wetland restoration, a touch of whimsical pathways, and some regenerative thinking, we find that hint of ecologically revolutionary impulse that should be nurtured wherever found. Exercises like this are not optional in the world we’re entering, where so much of nature has been put asunder and needs to be rejoined. This is a masterwork.


Dr Nirmal Kishnani: This community centre is open and generous, conceived as a network of spaces that occupies a leftover site between buildings. The materiality of the building, its use of stone and bamboo, connects it to where it is. This is unmistakably a product of climate and location. There is also an appealing ‘roughness in the outcome. This was built by local unskilled labour, which says much about the importance placed on community participation.

Ada Fung: Featuring the use of waste, reusing scaffolding steel pipes, collecting rock debris and discarded rocks from villages and construction sites, together with bamboo sticks, S Space provides the local community with a communal space for social activities. The project neatly juxtaposes in harmony with nature and the environment in a new emerging urban area in Dong Van town.

Dr Jalel Sager: S Space has a forbidding beauty that I find fascinating. The stone work, complemented by the bamboo mezzanine, opens up in unusual ways; the project indeed stirs in me that oft-cited but rarely seen feeling of architectural delight. A lot is accomplished here with very little, not least that a community struggling with modernisation is given something beautiful and perhaps, on its best days, majestic, that was cobbled together using discarded and common materials of the past.


Dr Nirmal Kishnani: The jury was unanimous on the merits of this scheme. This tells the story of hope, how communities come together to rebuild lives after a natural disaster. There is also a story of how simple, low-cost materials come together to form an elegant architecture of space and light.

Ada Fung: Given its objective for post-disaster recovery in Indonesia for a community affected by earthquake, this modular design not only offers quick construction, flexibility and contextual learning ecosystem, but it also offers a clever solution to upgrade the quality of learning space for the children. It provides an inspiring learning environment close to nature with luxuriant planting, whilst the positioning of windows allows provision of natural lighting and ventilation to the indoor space.

Dr Jalel Sager: The Sekolah project is a success on nearly all fronts. Its necessity and use, for disaster recovery, are highly commended. Its clean lines and subtle, low-key elegance give it the power of delight. I like the modular and cost-effective aspects of the project. Here again we find a steel armature providing a grid for a number of different flexible uses. The gardens and the indoor/outdoor aspect of the school make it feel very natural in its environment. Unlike other projects, here the trees form an integral part of the emergent structure. This project, importantly, seems highly modular and scalable.