Ken Yeang and his HAIRY bioclimatic architecture

“My name is Ken Yeang, I am an ecologist and an architect. for the  future, we have to totally rethink our built environment, to achieve the simple collective objective of a benign and seamless integration of everyting that we as humans do or build in the natural environment.” 杨经文/楊經文

Last night in Barcelona, as part of Habitat Futura’s Bienel de arquitectura sostenible which focused on eco buildings and sustainable urbanism, one of the legends of green building spoke, the Malaysian architect and ecologist who studied in the UK: Ken Yeang. HF invited him to talk about his 1998 competition winning EDITT tower (Ecological Design In The Tropics) for Singapore, Malaysia. Treehugger have a short and sweet summary of the project.

He gave an excellent presentation about the wider discussion of his views as to what constitutes “ecological architecture”, being critical of last minute eco gadget add-ons, as well as describing in detail the EDITT tower. Hopefully soon, HF will make the video and slideshow of his presentation publicly accessible, in the mean time you can view a 22 minute talk he gave at this years Ecocity World Summit 2008 last April In San Francisco.

A second video worth watching is Architect Ken Yeang speaks on EcoDesign in which he shares his ideas on eco urbanism with Ross von Burg.

During his lecture, Ken raised many critical views of what buildings or cities could or should be about. He sees 4 components in his eco-architecture, each having  equal value..

Blue: water
Green: nature, planting etc
Grey: building components, glass, concrete, steel…
Red: humans (the life force? Color of blood)

He later went on to themes of urbanism and said it is not enough to only have “greenery” in buildings to help in cooling, looking nice etc, they must be PRODUCTIVE, they must be food sources. From there he talked about green threads, eco bridges etc for urban systems. He finished explaining a seafront urban project in Istanbul, part of master plan by Zaha Hadid, in which he creates a new green thread or “eco corridor” to act as catalyst for new urban areas with multi uses and spaces, mechanism to re-connect people to nature etc.

There is a fine article on Landscape+Urbanism entitled Ken Yeang: Veg.itect which talks about this joining of building to its landscape:

Rather than continue the segregation of disciplines, Veg.itecture spans disciplines, further blurring the lines of established practice regimes. This does not demark territories where only the few architect/LA dual practicioners are allowed to have this mantle, but rather it is indicative of a unique approach – one where building and landscape are not discernable as individual elements. Ken Yeang epitomizes the concept, perhaps stronger than any current architect. His concepts of bioclimatic high-rise design has been a signature of his designs – maxing aesthetic and technical principles.


The ideas of buildings and their surrounding urban areas being a connected space which works on many levels including food production for healthy eco cities has been explored for Dublin and Barcelona. It is now recognised that we have entered climate as well as financial crisis, hopefully we might see a massive shift toward more sustainable cities. It will definately happen, the question is when.

The Botanic Spine : A Greenway and CPUL for Dublin (eco)city

Towards a healthier, happier, eco-effective Barcelona

Is this what your edible city will look like tomorrow?


4 Responses to Ken Yeang and his HAIRY bioclimatic architecture

  1. ignasi says:

    very inspiring approach. One remark though going green is in my opinion not – only – an ethical issue, it’s emotionally driven (biophilia), socially strengthen (mutualism), and economically viable and preferable (a good/positive business proposal). Confronted with being grey/black, ethics are not in first place although it would be highly desirable (and a signal of civilization maturity) that things worked that way. Cheers, Ignasi

  2. fuspey says:

    Agree Ignasi, its not only ethical, or economy driven, to be truly “ecological” it demands a love of life and a desire to keep it going for us and all systems. I think this is one of Yeangs drivers

    Anyway, it has been hard to find more infos on the istanbul bridge project, but heres one:

    Haber_en-US: “Transformation” starts in Kucukcekmece
    found at

    Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality organized an international contest last year for Kucukcekmece-Avcilar Internal-External Urban Transformation Project and the architect Ken Yeang’s team was awarded with the first prize. Having the prime goal of providing maximum social, economic and physical convenience about the environment, a balanced settlement, that considers the structure of the society and sensitive to the environment, would be built.

  3. fuspey says:

    more HAIRY ARCHITECTURE from the excellent innovative mad work from Eduard Francois
    see esp
    – Gîtes ruraux
    – L’Immeuble qui Pousse
    – Tower Flower

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