Setia SPICE Convention Centre, a convention centre with the largest column-free subterranean ballroom and the largest rooftop recreational park with pride of place in the Malaysia Book of Records, has been recognised with the prestigious Association of Consulting Engineers Malaysia (ACEM) Engineering Awards 2019 – Gold Award of Special Merit, the association’s highest award.
Building the new convention centre meant repurposing an existing green park which was much used by the public for outdoor activities. As the civil, structural and geotechnical engineer, Arup contributed to a solution that went beyond the design brief by the Penang state government and delivered an innovative solution within the given constraints of space. That solution was to build the convention centre underground and use its roof for the new – and larger – green public space above it, called the Green Roof.
“Arup brought excellent engineering skills that significantly contributed to this unique and iconic landmark in Penang, blending innovation with aesthetics, usability, constructability, maintainability and affordability,” Wong Sik Kwang, Arup Penang Office Leader & Project Manager.
The 70,000ft² underground convention centre with 40m column-free spans tucked under a 6-acre roof garden is an end result that is both highly aesthetic and functional. With an area of 4,500m² that can fit 400 round banquet tables or 8,000 seats in theatre style, the grand ballroom can be partitioned into four smaller halls for greater flexibility. The venue has turned out to be an iconic meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) facility for the state with a recreational park on top.
“We are honoured by this recognition from ACEM and would like to thank Arup for playing an important role in seeing the idea through to fruition. At SP Setia, we strive to constantly create ecological features and sustainable living environments that enrich the lives of the communities we build.” said Paul Soh, Divisional General Manager of S P Setia Berhad.
Arup’s innovative engineering solutions overcame the challenge of having a long span structure that needs to withstand heavy loading from soil and dynamic crowd loading on the Green Roof as well as potential water leakage into the convention centre. Additionally, a significant feature that is emblematic of Setia SPICE is its sight-to-behold porte cochere. This Iconic Roof consists of a flowing, three dimensionally curved single layered, latticed grid of approximately 113m span supported on only four corners. The challenge was to design a thin roof structure without excessive deflection despite the long span.
Setia SPICE Convention Centre has become a thriving hub for local and foreign event organisers, serving the vision of the Penang state government and the client to establish Penang as a premier destination for world-class conventions and events. It has high usability and social usefulness as the public can easily access the green open space.
Since its opening in 2017, SPICE continues to receive accolades from various top organisations. This recognition by ACEM would be the development’s third Gold Award, after the Malaysia Property Award 2018 by FIABCI-Malaysia and the international FIABCI World Prix d’Excellence Awards 2019 both in the category of Purpose-Built development. ACEM Engineering Awards is envisaged to facilitate public recognition of consulting engineering achievements that demonstrate the highest degree of skill and ingenuity and that provide a significant benefit to the public welfare and the practice of engineering. The entries are judged based on significance of the project to the community; significance of engineering solution, environment and social consideration; originality, innovation and quality of engineering; consideration of maintainability and sustainability; meeting client’s needs and budget; and value to the profession at large.
Arup in Malaysia
Arup was first established in Malaysia in 1964 under the name of Ove Arup dan Rakan-Rakan, when Arup in London won a competition to redevelop the General Hospital in Kuala Lumpur. In 1983, the company was incorporated into a private limited company and renamed Arup Jururunding Sdn Bhd. In the following decades, Arup Malaysia has grown in size and broadened its disciplines playing noteworthy roles in the evolving urban landscapes of Kuala Lumpur, Penang and other states. With a team of over 300 staff, we deliver engineering and advisory services necessary to every stage of a project, from inception to completion and after; from vision, strategy and business case through planning, engineering and project implementation to operational readiness and asset management.
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