Text description provided by the architects. SPARK has completed Arte S, a residential development located at Jalan Bukit Gambier near the city of George Town in Penang, Malaysia. The project consists of a pair of condominium towers containing 460 residential units. The tallest tower is 180m, the buildings together comprise the tallest “twin tower” development on the island. The client Nusmetro, a Malaysian property developer commissioned SPARK Architects to design the building and its landscape.
The Arte S twin towers sit at the base Bukit Gambir, a lush tropical mountain located at the heart of Penang Island off the Western coast of Malaysia. The geometry and composition of the towers was inspired the dramatic surrounding land form that mediates between the steeply rising hillside of Bukit Gambier and the coast line of the Penang Strait.
The twin towers and the podium are articulated by the curvilinear movement of balconies, terraces and pools that echo the way man has occupied Penang’s mountainous terrain over time. The mountain landscape has been interpreted as a series of layered flat surfaces that resemble steps, a graduated terracing of the building podium and its twisting towers is the signature of the Arte S project.
The geometry of the two towers was generated by the extrusion of an elliptical floorplate, augmented by the addition of a waveform brise-soleil that is subtly rotated at each floor level to achieve the building’s twisted appearance.
The Western tower sits closer to the mountain, climbing to 50 storeys, it is the third tallest tower on Penang and offers spectacular views towards the ocean. The shorter of the two towers rises 32 storeys from the layered podium. The geometry of both towers steps back at their upper most levels to create penthouses sculpted from the final 3 floorplates.
The taller tower has a sky garden at level 35 that incorporates two pebble-form recreational “resident club” pods. The larger pod can accommodate up to 60 people for events, the smaller hanging pod houses a Jacuzzi. Together the pods create a dramatic visual signature for the development whilst offering the residents spectacular views across Georgetown and the Strait of Penang.
The design provides a variety of apartment types for buyers. Future flexibility is achieved with column-free and beam-free apartment spaces that facilitate interior adjustments as tenant requirements change. Designed for tropical living the units are orientated to bring in light and air without the need for air-conditioning. All common areas are naturally ventilated and day-lit.
The lushly planted perimeter gardens and podium levels shroud the building’s car park and takes advantage of the tropical climate to merge naturalistic tropical planting with the building’s geometry. This result is layered, comfortable and shaded pool terraces supplemented by an organic form gymnasium pod. The green layering of the terraces continues to form a distinctive street presence and address for the development that has human scale and lush texture.
“In the early residential work of architect like Mies van der Rohe he created a new ground level by elevating the first floor. In Malaysia many residential developments sit atop ugly car parks” says Stephen Pimbley. “We wanted to capture the value of the Mies idea by lifting the piano nobile to create a beautiful landscaped communal space for the residents, that steps down as a series of green terraces to the primary street elevation of the development, shrouding the car parking facilities in a manner that is consistent and sympathetic with the layered terracing of the apartment towers” he added.