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Rethinking Penang’s Urban Core in an Age of Disruption

Technological disruption has accelerated and magnified. Just as the car transformed cities in the 1930s and the smartphone spawned the digital economy, a convergence of advances in AI, energy, food production and material science is poised to radically alter societies and economies.

These transformations will affect everything from how we work, where we work and even if we need to work. They will change how we get about, how we interact with one another and how we interact with technology. These transformations might change what we eat, where our food is produced and how it is grown. It is an opportunity to rethink, reset and restore.

Few cities have grasped or prepared for the shifts. Penang, a mid-sized city in northern Malaysia is using the pandemic downtime to scale up its efforts to prepare for the future. It has a multitude of natural, built, cultural and economic advantages that position it well to not only recover but thrive in a world defined by disruptive technologies, new social norms and radically different work practices.

Key to this future is a renewal of Penang’s urban core to bring life back into its historical and natural water-orientated assets and enable people and capital to invest in a new city form. One where culture, nature, businesses and technology are organised symbiotically.

As part of its strategy to catalyse recovery and uplift the economy, the Penang State Government is asking innovators to help us rethink the future and apply this to reimagine the waterfronts of the island and mainland in a manner that builds social, economic and environmental resilience.

While the competition is open to all, professional collaborations and multidisciplinary teams are encouraged.
Projects that are non-original or have been made public prior to the results will automatically be excluded from the final.
Two submission formats are acceptable:
  • 1.
    3 x A1 panels in PDF, JPEG or PNG (max. total 300MB) submitted via the website that includes:
    • a)
      Master plans of the PenangBay area.
    • b)
      Detailed concept plans, renders, cross sections, elevations for critical components.
    • c)
      Justification for the designs against the relevant SDGS.


  • 2.
    A 2.5-minutes video in .avi, .mov or .wmv (max. 50MB) that illustrates:
    • a)
      Visualisations of the PenangBay area.
    • b)
      Images and narration of critical components.
    • c)
      Justification for the designs against the relevant SDGS.



Penang Bay Competition's Timeline
Penang Bay Competition's Judging Criteria

The chairman of the jury will prepare a Jury Report which will be made available in the website upon the announcement of results.

*** As this is an ideas competition, entrants are not allowed to raise objections to the evaluation results.


YB Jagdeep Singh Deo,
Penang State Government EXCO
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Dato’ Azhar Haji Arshad,
Penang Deputy State Secretary
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Luis Monreal,
General Manager,
Aga Khan Trust for Culture
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Eduardo Lopez Moreno,
Head Knowledge and Innovation,
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Wadzi Katsidzira,
Global Development Incubator (GDI)
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Sanda Lenzholzer,
International Landscape Architect
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TPr Hj Ihsan bin Zainal Mokhtar,
Malaysian Institute of Planners
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A committee of four people including architects, landscape architects and urban planners will be nominated by GTCDC to verify the entries’ compliance with the competition regulations and requirements in order to eliminate non-compliant submissions prior to the jury’s evaluation. The committee will select 40 entrants for online publication and the Juries’ consideration

PenangBay Committee


Penang Bay Competition's first prize awards - USD$20,000

USD $20,000

Penang Bay Competition's second prize awards - USD$8,000

USD $8,000

Penang Bay Competition's third prize awards - USD$4,000

USD $4,000

Honourable mentions with an award of USD $1,000 each x5

*** The First Prize winner(s) will be invited to present their ideas virtually, the video will be made available in social media.

How to apply

How to apply Penang Bay International Ideas Competition - Step 1: Download brief

Step 1: Brief

Click HERE to download brief
How to apply Penang Bay International Ideas Competition - Step 2: Register and make payment

Step 2: Register

SIGN UP as user and make payment of USD$25.

How to apply Penang Bay International Ideas Competition - Step 3: Upload your deliverables

Step 3: Upload

Use registered email to UPLOAD your project