PAM-DBKL Architectural Ideas Competition 2014 in designing temporary shelters for the KL Homeless

A design idea competition entry - Atom-tel: A Modular Shelter


Design approaches:

Modularity is the main consideration and concern in proposing this project shelter for the homeless. Modular in terms of its construction methodology, site suitability and material selections. Modularity in which it can be decomposed into a number of components that may be mixed and matched in a variety of configurations. Eventually, this proposal is an idea of getting singularity into plurality from its inception to its construction.

 Singularity & Modularity Construction

A modular component being designed for the need of a space – a shelter. Therefore, a cylindrical cell sized at a diameter of 1800mm is created by using double layer rolled of meshed wire onto an aluminium structural framing. It barely need any foundation but a supporting base to hold and fix each of the cell on ground. It is a light weight modular system which can be easily transported and assembled on site.  It is also stack-able for multilevel when required. Each of the unit designed for an individual habitable space. As such, 20 cells were created and forming a community living for the homeless. Modularity from this methodology can be easily blend well with any programme configurations needed, such as male and female shelter, male and female Surau (spiritual space), male and female bathroom, counseling services and etc. Bigger diameter of cell being proposed for larger space required such as dining hall and communal meeting area by using same construction method. The interior finishing would be cheapest cost of the canvas or fabric. Optional choices of material such as timber plank can made available to suit individual. The idea of introducing choices of internal finishing is to have this group of people with positive thinking of living lifestyle, choices of life through a psychological way.  


When many singular shelters being placed and stacked at one place, it created a community which it became plural. Plurality is enhanced through the idea of inserting bigger shelter for meeting up and gathering places. Besides, plurality is not merely happening inside each cells but also the outdoor area; the formation of each modular components segregating an outdoor space for the community. Moreover, this plurality created a new urban image of Kuala Lumpur because of the entire modular system is crafted at wherever required – be it at an open park area, underneath of highway flyover, spacious backlane, reclaimed abandoned shop houses and any places that deemed necessarily; it became an art piece, a landscape back drop with creepers growing on it, a sculpture with space inside and it is a shelter for the homeless.


Atom-Tel is a community living focused design. It provides shelter for the unlucky one and it was created to end inequality and exclusion. It provides basic needs of sleeping and dining space. It is also a communal space where it educate people about recycling and to live to earn for living. Recycling idea was blended into this Atom-Tel design, where empty Atom-Tel being placed for creepers or plants to grow, while it becomes recycled items collection hub. This could be a new recycling image to the city. Wherever people see Atom-Tel, people would recognize it as recycling hub. It is a new identity. Furthermore, this would help to generate temporary income for the homeless.

 Future & Mobility

The mobility of this modular Atom-Tel is an advantage as it is an easy to assemble and fast to construct architectural design solution. It is easy to be relocated when required by dismantling each cell and/or without dismantling the individual cell by means of transporting entirely. 

Team: Ong CH, Loo C.Chuan, Khor CL