Likas Ridge (Sabah Borneo) Residential and Hotel Development

We supported internationally renowned architects TR Hamzah Yeang in producing an eco-masterplan for a mixed-use development on the western slopes of Likas Ridge in Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah in Malaysian Borneo. The proposals included for a hotel, convention centre, offices and various condominium, and commercial plots. In terms of surrounding natural environment Kota Kinabalu would seem to have it all. Amazing tropical highlights include the vast expanse of rainforest within the Crocker Range and Kinabula National Parks, and the spectacular coral reefs of Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. Given these attractions it is unsurprising that Kota Kinabalu is branding itself as the ‘Gateway to Borneo’s Natural Wonders’ and ‘Rainforest City’.

Nevertheless Kota Kinabalu faces a variety of environmental challenges including flooding, water pollution, traffic congestion, loss of urban biodiversity, and landslides. While Likas Ridge itself did not appear to include any remnant primary forest, the relatively species-poor Acacia dominated forest which had colonised following earlier clearances, had some value for wildlife and also provides a variety of ecosystem services including attractive landscape; recreational opportunities; soil and watershed protection; micro-climatic amelioration etc. With all of these considerations in mind, it was important that the development proposals for Likas Ridge were driven by the highest standards in ecologically informed multifunctional design, integrating and enhancing the Site’s key biodiversity features, and ensuring vital ecosystem service provision was maintained as far as possible. Given the high design expectations set by the Client in terms of sustainability, the design was also intended to serve as a model of best practice in terms of future ‘green’ development in the city.

Our ecologist assessed the Site mostly from existing trails due to limited accessibility. The aim of this rapid survey was to provide an overview of:

- the type and ecological importance of habitats and species present;
- ecosystem services; and
- anthropogenic and other threats to the integrity and nature conservation status of the Site and surrounds.

Proposals included water sensitive urban design, biodiverse pocket parks and greenways, and extensive green roofs and façades. Recommendations also included for the creation of Likas Ridge Rainforest Park to protect and ecologically restore the forest remaining outside of the development boundary. The Park would not only provide an important ecological and amenity resource for existing residents in the city, it would also be a major attraction for prospective residents and tourists, adding significant eco-advantage to the development. Proposals also included for integrating the Park with Kota Kinabalu Coastal Pedestrian Walkway & Cycleway.

Proximate Client
TR Hamza & Yeang

Design Team Leader
TR Hamza & Yeang

TR Hamza & Yeang

Landscape Architect
Little Thunder Studios


Site Area
25-100 Hectares