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123 | Design’s Race & Rescue Mission

Dr. Ken Yeang is a Malaysian architect and ecologist delivering and pioneering the field of hyper-green architecture.

123 | Design’s Race & Rescue Mission

Dr. Yeang began his work on ecological design as a student; his doctoral dissertation “A Theoretical Framework for Incorporating Ecological Considerations in the Design and Planning of the Built Environment” (1975) became the basis for his eventual practice. Understanding that architecture and ecology had yet to be merged, he developed a set of design principles centered around the idea that a building should operate in cohesion with its biosphere. Today, his work is differentiated by an ecosystem-based approach that performs beyond conventional green-rating systems. 

A key project is Yeang’s own house (1985) which represents his early bioclimatic work. The dwelling has an umbrella-like upper roof-structure that functions as a solar-filtering device and shades the lower roof. Its side ‘wind wing-walls’ direct wind into the dining area. The swimming pool functions as an evaporative-cooling device and brings a breeze into the living spaces. 

Yeang moved on to apply the bioclimatic principles to high-rise towers. Contending that the high-rise tower will not go away overnight, he sought ecologically benign ways to make this built form green and humane to inhabit. He is now credited as the inventor of the “bioclimatic skyscraper.”

The Solaris building (Singapore, 2008) brought together his ideas on ecological architecture with a continuous landscaped ramp and other experimental devices. The building has an ecologically-linked vegetated pedestrian walkway as a “vertical linear park,” punctuated by sky garden terraces located at each corner and linked to mid-level and uppermost-level gardens. The Solaris’ vertical linear park represents Yeang’s concept of “green eco-infrastructure” that enables an ecological nexus between the built form and its surrounding landscape and bioregion. 

His publications include: The Skyscraper: Bioclimatically Considered, The Green Skyscraper: The Basis for Designing Sustainable, Intensive Buildings, and Ecodesign: A manual for Ecological Design.

His recent work explores the concept of ‘eco-mimicry’ as designing the built environment as constructed ecosystems that emulates the processes, structure and attributes of ecosystems. The term refers to physical, structural and systemic mimicry of ecosystems and is regarded by Yeang as an outgrowth from the ‘bio-mimicry’ and ‘eco-mimetics’. 

We were fortunate to be joined by Dr. Yeang on our podcast, Social Design Insights, where he spoke with host Eric J. Cesal about the arc of green thinking in design and what the future holds. Have a listen at the link above.


Our opening theme music for 2019 is "Bang Bang" and our closing theme is "Salvame" both by Eljuri from her album "La Lucha." The break music for this episode is "A Little Help From My Friends" by The Beatles from their album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band."