Petronas University of Technology was founded in 1997 and is the region's largest academic centre for the study of civil, mechanical, chemical and electrical engineering. Fully funded by the Malaysian oil company Petronas, it aims to combine the best academic training with hands-on industrial experience to produce a new generation of graduates who can contribute to the country's industrial development.
Located within the lush tropical landscape at Seri Iskandar, 300 kilometres north of the capital, Kuala Lumpur, the 450-hectare site is characterised by steep hills and lakes, which are a legacy of the area's history of tin mining. The design responds to the physical landscape of the site and to the weather patterns particular to this part of the world. While it can be intensely hot in the sun, in the monsoon season the skies open every afternoon to bring torrential rain, creating a cycle in which the ground is alternately scorched and soaked. To allow students to move around the campus freely, while shaded from the sun or protected from downpours, crescent-shaped canopies shelter the pedestrian paths that wind around the site. Held aloft by slender columns, these canopies intersect to encircle a landscaped park. Where possible, the planting and terrain have been preserved in their natural state, or reinstated, although some marshy land has been flooded to form a water installation.
Arranged around the edge of the park are buildings for teaching and research, contained in four-storey blocks that tuck beneath the edges of the canopies. Cafés and other communal student facilities are located at the canopy intersections, which also correspond with the entrances to the housing accommodation. Marking the main entrance to the campus is the drum-like form of the resource centre. Containing a library and a multi-purpose auditorium, it is the university's chief social and ceremonial hub. The future expansion of the campus will see the completion of a sports stadium and a mosque − amenities that will be shared with the residents of a new town that is growing up close to the campus.