A proponent of contextual and sustainable building, Eleena Jamil has contributed to the advancement of contemporary architecture


Eleena Jamil is one of Malaysia’s leading architects known for her contemporary works that marries homegrown, organic building materials with modern ones to create enduring architecture with strong references to the Asian context and culture. Her works prove that small, not just big buildings, can make a big impact if they are well designed.

Born in Penang, Eleena studied at the Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University. Upon graduating, she worked for a local practice in Cardiff before continuing with her M.Phil and PhD. degrees at the same university. Upon completion, she returned to Malaysia and worked for a local architectural firm for a few years before setting up her eponymous practice, Eleena Jamil Architect, in 2005.

Eleena’s concern about responsible and sustainable building led to her focus on climate-sensitive buildings and the use of plant-based materials like timber and bamboo in combination with other more modern materials in her works. This has started a conversation about a sustainable way of building that relates directly to the local environment. Of her projects, the Bamboo Playhouse probably has the biggest impact: the public pavilion was the first formal structure in the country to use bamboo as its main building material, something rarely used in modern construction. Another project, the Desa Mahkota School, improves the existing typology of Malaysian schools by incorporating simple yet effective passive solar strategies within the overall development to reduce the reliance of mechanical systems to keep spaces cool.

Eleena is currently working on a research project titled About Making, exploring the processes of the building craft with an emphasis on the skills, worldview and approaches of craftsmen. She is also working on a self-initiated building project that explores sustainable materials like bamboo, timber and rammed earth.

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Did you know?

Eleena Jamil initially wanted to become a doctor but decided to take up architecture at the suggestion of her father.

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