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Empire Damansara by ONG&ONG

An eclectic clash of architectural styles separates the distinct programmes of the mixed-use development Empire Damansara, writes Iliyas Ong.

Empire Damansara by ONG&ONG


April 10th, 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.

Empire Damansara is a mixed-use development that includes a hotel, SOGO units, corporate offices, residences and a lifestyle 'village'
Empire Damansara was designed as a vibrant and dynamic mixed-use development

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 building boasts a very identifiable facade
Each tower of the development comes with a very distinct and striking facade

The hotel, for example, is identified by a series of orange fins on its facade
The hotel is identified by a dynamic series of copper-coloured fins on its facade

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.

The lifestyle 'village' borrows the look and feel of old American warehouses
The lifestyle village is designed based on a heritage-theme and adopts the look of old  warehouses 

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.

Courtyards and plazas connect the various buildings together
A series of landscaped courtyards and plazas are spread out between the various buildings

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 carpark is an architectural landmark in its own right
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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