Situated in Kuala Rompin – a quiet coastal town facing the South China Sea about 400km southeast from Kuala Lumpur – this new hostel complex, completed in 2009, for teenage athletes offers 120 bed spaces and communal facilities spread over a floor area of approximately 3000m² within a very tight budget. Rather than design a large single building with institutional overtones which would look out of place in a small town like Kuala Rompin, the program is divided into a series of elongated low-lying mass, connected in their materiality and facade treatment. There are 3 separate blocks, each organised according to function and arranged around a large central courtyard. The courtyard is open on one side to the main road allowing views of the whole development which gives it a gentle civic presence.
Building in a hot humid climate with a very small budget can prove to be challenging as the aim is to keep the building cool at most times without resorting to expensive mechanical installations. Here, efforts are concentrated in the sectional design and on passive cooling methods to ensure that air can move around and escape up the highest point of the building. These efforts are perhaps most evident in the dormitory blocks. The corridors of the double-banked room arrangement tend to be dark and will be prone to overheating if left unventilated. To counter this problem, the roof above the corridor is raised and clerestorey glass louvers introduced along its whole length, allowing natural light to percolate through and hot air to escape. Further to this, void openings punched in the first floor corridor slab at intervals help air to move from ground floor up and above to the top of roof by stack ventilation.
Bedrooms have large window openings to provide good levels of natural lighting and ventilation. Here, the large openings are amply shaded using simple and cost-effective modification of a proprietary system. Standard top hung windows are modified by replacing glass with cheap painted fibre cement panels. When open, the panels automatically become sun-shades.
The communal block employs similar passive cooling methods. It is kept cool internally by having most spaces single room deep with high sloping ceiling and openings at the highest point and at opposing sides of rooms. Along the courtyard facade, protection from the sun comes in two forms: the first is a series of vertical masonry fins or piers between large glazed openings which shade from the low morning and late afternoon sun and the second, the trellised walkway structure which efficiently shade from midday sun.