World Ecotourism City Resort Development

An ‘international resort community/world ecotourism city’ was proposed near Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia. The proposals covered ca. 207 ha and would include ca. 30,000 residential and vacation units. Although the development was proposed on a relatively low-lying area of mostly abandoned farmland, a coastal lagoon lay immediately to the east, while jungle covered hills to the west.

We worked with Grant Associates to assess the site both through extensive desk study and in the field. We also visited many reference sites in the relevant surroundings.

Our design strategy sought to apply the principles of ‘ecourbanism’ and ecotourism. Proposals included for:

- Expansion of mangrove along the lagoon within a set-back zone.
- Restoration of coral and seagrass habitat within the lagoon and offshore.
- Enhancement of the adjacent secondary forest.
- Creation of substantial green fingers extending through the development linking the adjoining jungle with the coast.
- Living architecture including low-maintenance green roofs, vegetated podium decks and accessible climber–based living facades.
- Water sensitive design and other wetland features.
- Creation of a major exemplary botanical garden, showcasing many of Sabah’s habitat types.

Our work also emphasised that project success would be dependent on working with adjoining landowners and communities to adopt a sustainable holistic approach to development; in particular recognising the need to produce and implement a local Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) plan, balancing development goals with environmental health.

Ultimate Client
Karambunai Corp Bhd

Design Team Leader
Grant Associates

Landscape Architect
Grant Associates


Site Area
Greater than 100 Hectares