2017 has marked another significant year for Malaysia’s creative industry as the Malaysian Institute of Architects (PAM) welcomed to the region the 18th International Architecture, Interior Design and Building Exhibition or ARCHIDEX showcasing a variety of construction materials and innovations along with its major public program, the DATUM forum that has helped to trigger the ideas of participants including architects, designers, and the general public for many years.

Taking place between the 19th and 22nd of July at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, ARCHIDEX 2017 has maintained its continual success as one of the leading architecture business events in Southeast Asia. Judging from the great number of participants in attendance each day, one can see how this annual event was able to draw together entrants from not only this region but also the world over. This year’s trade exhibition, which expanded across nine halls of the venue, still welcomed a myriad of exhibitors who brought along with them state-of-the-art building materials and technologies introducing industry experts to new possibilities in construction while enjoying exposure to a number of products, services, and solutions available in the industry. The event also created a platform for the new generation of professionals to learn and apply new skills beneficial for their future careers through networking sections and competitions such as Architalent, which was inaugurated just this past year.

Archidex 2017, photo by Napat Charitbutra

Begun firstly in 2003, the DATUM forum that this year followed a theme of Social Architecture remains as great a platform as ever for architects and designers to share and sharpen their ideas towards the built environment. Not only did this event act as a platform for participants to explore and expose themselves to foreign architecture from around the world, but also as an intellectual playground to nurture the young professionals of the industry. The first half day of the forum (20 July) which was called DATUM:GREEN  welcomed a wide range of speakers whose foci in sustainable design and eco-centric developments brought much inspiration to the audience. In the afternoon of the same day another event was held entitled DATUM+, a forum that aimed to observe the multi-faceted architectural productions which welcomed some experts whose works had gone beyond the traditional modes of professional practice such as Javier Arpa from The Why Factory or Kayako Ota, an architectural curator from Tokyo who was formerly the mind behind AMO, a creative think-tank arm of OMA.

The DATUM forum, Archidex 2017, photo by Napat Charitbutra

On the last two days of the event (21-22 July), the DATUM:KL  International Architecture & Design Conference embraced an exciting array of panelists including both international and local professionals, welcoming them to share their ideas regarding the current issues going on in the world of architecture. The line-up consisted of 4 showcases from Malaysia and 8 keynote speakers from abroad such as Nazlan Baharudin from Akitek Rekabina and Chan Chin Yeow from CT Chan Architect, to name a few. The DATUM:KL  also invited a Thai architect, Boonserm Premthada from Bangkok Project Studio to share the key messages behind some of his projects which focus on tectonics and carry a strong socio-political motive to improve the lives of the underprivileged. The main highlight of this year’s forum, from our point of view, would definitely be the closing keynote speakers of each day which brought about a big round of applause involving the two architect duos: Antón Garcia-Abril and Debora Mesa Molina from Ensamble Studio, and Anne Lacaton and Jean Phillipe Vassal from Lacaton et Vassal. From the very experimental way of thinking of Ensamble Studio to the pragmatic yet figurative architecture of Lacaton et Vassal, the two undoubtedly contributed to the roaring success of this year’s DATUM and confirmed ARCHIDEX’s continual role as one of the leading architectural fairs of the region once more.

Let’s wait and see what next year’s ARCHIDEX 2018 will look like and in which direction it will walk toward. Will it still carry on as a platform for the veteran and young architects to come and share their ideas together? All remains to be seen.

Archidex 2017, photo by Napat Charitbutra


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