BIODIVERCITY masterlan for Penang south islands, Malaysia, by BIG Bjarke Ingels Group, Ramboll and Hijjas - image by BIG.
BIODIVERCITY masterlan for Penang south islands, Malaysia, by BIG Bjarke Ingels Group, Ramboll and Hijjas – All images by BIG.

Sustainable – “If Penang is defined by its rich cultural diversity and its abundant biodiversity, we would like to envision the Penang south islands as an archipelago where the two can coexist in a human-made ecosystem, expanding and enhancing one another.” Says Bjarke Ingels, Founder and Creative Director, BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group. “We proposed the creation of urban lilypads organised by a cellular structure of urban districts connected by natural patches and corridors for habitats.” 

Developed by BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group for Penang State Government in collaboration with Ramboll and local architect Hijjas, the 1821 hectares BIODIVERCITY masterplan provides the 15.000 to 18.000 residents with approximately 4.6km of public beaches, 600 acres of parks and a 25km waterfront on three islands. The vast land reclamation project was conceived as an Urban Mosaic of three artificial islands, connected by pedestrian ans autonomous transport network networks.

BIODIVERCITY masterlan for Penang south islands, Malaysia, by BIG Bjarke Ingels Group, Ramboll and Hijjas - image by BIG.

The buildings in BIODIVERCITY will be designed to perform efficiently and will to a large extent be constructed by low-carbon materials such as bamboo and Malaysian timber in combination with green concrete, a sustainable alternative comprised of industrial waste and recycled materials.

BIODIVERCITY masterlan for Penang south islands, Malaysia, by BIG Bjarke Ingels Group, Ramboll and Hijjas - image by BIG.

By encouraging green roofs, facades, public and private open spaces, the islands can form a nearly continuous habitat mosaic feeding back into the forests, beaches, riparian zones and estuaries at the island’s edges.

BIODIVERCITY masterlan for Penang south islands, Malaysia, by BIG Bjarke Ingels Group, Ramboll and Hijjas - image by BIG.

BiodiverCity will have an integrated system of localized water resources, renewable energy and waste management, tied altogether in a human-made ecosystem.” Adds  Bjarke Ingels. “Rather than design a city for cars, we designed BiodiverCity for waterways, rail and different kinds of personal mobility, forming a multi-modal environment of movement.”

BIODIVERCITY masterlan for Penang south islands, Malaysia, by BIG Bjarke Ingels Group, Ramboll and Hijjas - image by BIG.

The Channels, BIODIVERCITY’s first island builds upon the heritage and vibrant creative energy of Penang’s George Town to create a regional and international draw. IT will feature a wave pool as well as governance and research institutions.

BIODIVERCITY masterlan for Penang south islands, Malaysia, by BIG Bjarke Ingels Group, Ramboll and Hijjas - image by BIG.

As the heart of the district, a 500-acre digital park includes spaces for research, development and local business opportunities. Malaysia’s newest public destination will be the future home for conferences, education centers and a family-oriented park where locals and guests can explore the world of technology, robotics and virtual reality. 

BIODIVERCITY masterlan for Penang south islands, Malaysia, by BIG Bjarke Ingels Group, Ramboll and Hijjas - image by BIG.

The Mangroves, the second and central island is dedicated to businesses and is organized around a network of sheltered urban wetlands, creating suitable environments for its namesake Mangrove forests – an important natural infrastructure that doubles as effective powerhouses for sequestering more than four times as much carbon as a typical forest.

BIODIVERCITY masterlan for Penang south islands, Malaysia, by BIG Bjarke Ingels Group, Ramboll and Hijjas - image by BIG.

At the center of the Mangroves, the Bamboo Beacon hosts meetings, conferences and major events. In addition, civic amenities are distributed throughout the city to promote inclusive growth and participation in urban life.

BIODIVERCITY masterlan for Penang south islands, Malaysia, by BIG Bjarke Ingels Group, Ramboll and Hijjas - image by BIG.

The Laguna, BIODIVERCITY’s westernmost island, is an oasis for ecological living, organized around a central marina. Eight smaller islands form a miniature archipelago, where floating, stilted and terraced housing takes advantage of the natural setting. Here, fisherman landing points can easily access the open waters by navigating each of the island’s waterways.

BIODIVERCITY masterlan for Penang south islands, Malaysia, by BIG Bjarke Ingels Group, Ramboll and Hijjas - image by BIG.

All images by BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group.

BIODIVERCITY masterlan for Penang south islands, Malaysia, by BIG Bjarke Ingels Group, Ramboll and Hijjas - image by BIG.
BIODIVERCITY masterlan for Penang south islands, Malaysia, by BIG Bjarke Ingels Group, Ramboll and Hijjas - image by BIG.