Transformative Complexity in the Hilly Terrain

Transformative Complexity in the Hilly Terrain

Transformative Complexity in the Hilly Terrain
A study into the Genting Integrated Tourism Plan

The study into Theme Park are seldom in the academic of Architecture. The interest started from the previous post where the differences between Theme Park and Museum are studied. In the light of this, this article consists of the transformation of Theme Park, amidst the complexity in the hilly terrain.

Businesses in entertainment and leisure industries have continuously been transformative to meet the perpetual changing demand and social behaviour. Meeting such demands becomes pivotal for the survival of the entertainment and leisure industries. In recent times we observed the major renovations work for shopping malls the SStwo Mall in Section 19, and Jaya Shopping Centre in Section 14, and several shopping malls acquired by ARA Asia Dragon Fund, an affiliate of Cheung Kong Group, owned by Hong Kong’s richest man, Li Ka-shing. Theme Park and Resort Developments undergo even larger transformation in the scale of masterplan, ranging from the land size of 27,252 acres of Walt Disney World Resort to the 800 acres of Sunway Integrated Resort City. Land size aside, theme design incorporation becomes ever more crucial to meeting the novelty factor. In Malaysia this is evident in the emergent of a number theme park developments seen in the past few years and years to come, further making the competition tighter. The below highlights the recent theme park developments in Malaysia:

001a_Theme park and resort name

Though the study of Theme Park Resort Design has seldom been covered in the purview of architectural academic’s, such relevance is important due to their transformative nature and design direction. A precedent reference for such study was well recorded by Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi in the book “Learning from Las Vegas” published in year 1972. Subsequently in 2004, Nikos Salingaros, critics of Deconstructivism Architecture, theorise in his book, “Anti-Architecture and Deconstruction” argues that buildings and other structures are given unusual shapes for purposes of advertising and mimicry of famous building for the creation of landmark and follies. Though we see these designs prominently in Theme Park, Nikos finds similarities to Frank Gehry’s works where it lacks the human scale details and are appealing to novelty and excitement.

Nonetheless, the article intend to investigate the complexity nature of the perpetual transformation of a Theme Park Resort development, namely the Genting Highlands, due to their logistics difficulties and hilly terrain challenges. We will look into their recent planning layout and key design consideration when planning the masterplan and infrastructure.

Since opening door for business in 1971, development in Genting Highlands has been uninterrupted. A pattern of major completions can be spotted every approximately 5 years. Currently the transformative projects in the pipeline are a new 3,500 room hotel expansion to the current First World Hotel, a new 10,000 seat arena and reconverting the current theme park to 20th Century Fox World theme park of 25 acres. Once completed, Genting Highlands will be running at a maximum capacity of approximately 12,445 hotel rooms.

001b_Genting Accomplishments

Such major expansion plan is named the Genting Integrated Tourism Plan (GITP). The biggest change to Genting Highlands since the introduction of its theme park in 1992. GITP intends to enlarge the overall capacity of its accommodation, car parks, retail, entertainment, infrastructure, transport, staff’s quarters, and a new theme to the park.

Under the first phase of redevelopment, about RM4 billion will be spent on the development of new and refurbishment of existing hotel properties, infrastructures and amenities. All is scheduled for completion by 2016.

001_Development Plan

(Diagrammatic Masterplan of Genting Highlands upon work completion)

A new three-star hotel with approximately 3,500 rooms, will be developed concurrently with face lift works on the existing First World Hotel, Genting Grand, Maxims, Resort Hotel and Theme Park Hotel.

002_The new hotel towers lifting new height for Genting Highlands

(The new hotel towers lifting new height for Genting Highlands.)

Developing a new upper cable car station to enable a capacity of 100 gondolas to transit 4,000 persons per hour. Travelling from the resort’s mid-hill to the hilltop, it has 4 stops at Genting Premium Outlets (GPO), Chin Swee temple, Turning station and the arrival Sky Avenue.

003_Cable Car entrance to Sky Avenue

(Cable Car entrance to Sky Avenue and Sky Plaza Shopping Mall after overlooking the entire 20th Century Fox World outdoor theme park to the left.)

The development of a 10,000-seat show arena will be an addition to the existing 6,000 seats of Arena of Stars and 3,500 pax capacity occupants of Genting International Convention Centre.

Almost equivalent to the number of additional hotel rooms, a new multi-storey car park to accommodate 3,200 parking bays and bus bays will be built.


004_Conceptual Plan of 20th Century Fox Theme Park

(Conceptual Plan of 20th Century Fox Theme Park)

Resorts World Genting will open its doors to the much-anticipated 20th Century Fox World outdoor theme park. Occupying the land size of 25 acres, it will be composed of 25 new rides that are currently under site clearance and earthwork.

005_Site Picture taken on January 2015

(Site Picture taken on January 2015, image by Afiq Nadriz)

006_the new podium development
(the new podium development on the west side of First World Hotel)

Building on a single podium encirculating the outdoor theme park, the podium serves as the gateway entrance due to its junction for the cable car arrival, car park below, the Sky Plaza shopping mall and casino at the top portion of the podium with hotels above the podium. Covering approximately 50 levels, making the new development taller than the existing First World Hotel.

007_the Sky Avenue overlooking the Outdoor Theme Park

(the Sky Avenue overlooking the Outdoor Theme Park)

In addition to the above, a central walkway flanks with retail connecting the First World Hotel to Genting Grand, Maxims, and Resort Hotels. Covering 750,000 sqft and 76 units of retail space, this creates a pleasurable walking journey similar to the Vittorio Emmanuele II Galleria in Milan or Publika Shopping Gallery in Solaris Dutamas with multiple glass domes and glass vaulted arcades. By popular demand as seen in the Starbucks at the Ground Floor of First World Hotel and The Coffee Bean at the Ground Floor of Resort Hotel, the arcade shopping space opens up to the outdoor creating corridor of al fresco dining facing the theme park.



(Ring roads and arrows showing the circulation due to multiple adaptive transformations)

The adaptive masterplan is designed differently than the regular city grid of New York and Barcelona where the circulation and new tower placements are decided upon the terrain and existing buildings. Over time the masterplan grows organically in the form of islands. This allows smooth operation of other islands whilst creating opportunity for individual island to undergo roadblock for construction work.

Thus the masterplan is set in the notion of 4 minor ring roads inside a larger ring rood. The minor ring roads are namely the island surrounding Maxims and Resort Hotels, Genting Grand Hotel, Sky Avenue and theme park, and lastly the First World and New Hotels. Each minor ring road has its individual exit to the larger ring road to avoid unnecessary detour into other islands and create further congestion. All minor ring roads share a common entrance main road in the centre, making the main road fundamentally crucial to maintain congestion free.

Set in the backdrop of organic transformation, the Genting Highlands slowly carve in via its ring road circulation to create bubble of islands for its future projects. These bubble of islands grow within the larger ring road that was set forth during initial planning in the 1990s. To create a new island outside of this larger ring road posses new challenges to the existing framework. Thus consideration was taken for further plans to develop GPO at mid-hill Awana.


Currently in planning stage, the second phase of development constitute the GPO located at mid-hill Awana. Whilst offering a wide range of leading designer brand fashion, sportswear, fine leather, luggage, housewares, home furnishings and fashion accessories, the GPO is presented to emulate the success of Johor Premium Outlet.


009_Contour map showing

(Contour map showing the potential expansion site due to the relative gradual slope terrain condition)

Whilst the GITP may be perceived as a major facelift to Genting Highlands, the terrain suggests further opportunities for development at the Northwest and the entire East directions, all within the Pahang governing state. Though this may be development outside of the larger ring road, it creates an alternative view towards the surrounding greens than the current theme park view.

Against the backdrop of limited land size, logistic difficulties and challenging terrain, GITP is merely a small step towards the many opportunities lies ahead. Perhaps the challenges that matter the most are in the form of economy, namely the impending competitions from the many theme park developments, the rising cost, and the general dwindling affordability of the nation.

How does the Architectural and Masterplanning Design can resolve these economy challenges in the form of Theme Park Resort?


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