A MASTER PLAN OF SUSTAINABILITY
MELISSA DARLYNE CHOW KUALA LUMPUR firstname.lastname@example.org
THE 30-year Malaysia Vision Valley (MVV) project stresses sustainability, according to master planners Norliza Hashim and United States-based Lawrence A. Chan. Norliza and Chan are tasked with developing the blueprint for the project, a public-private development led by the private sector through a joint venture of Sime Darby Property Bhd, Brunsfield Development Sdn Bhd and Kumpulan Wang Persaraan.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak recently witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) involving the three parties.
With the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP) and the National Physical Plan as its foundation, the project’s three main focus areas are the economy, inclusiveness and environmental protection.
MVV comprises industrial, commercial and residential clusters. Set to change the landscape into a bustling economic zone, it spans 153,000ha from Port Dickson to Seremban and Nilai to complement the congested Klang Valley.
Although the project has a long way to go, it offers great economic prospects with the capacity to attract more than RM290 billion in investments apart from creating 1.38 million job opportunities.
Norliza has led key projects in Malaysia, such as the development of the National Low Carbon Cities Assessment Framework and the development plan of Iskandar Malaysia.
Chan is president of the Boston Design Group, and has 40 years of experience in architecture and urban design.
They tell the New Sunday Times about the development of the blueprint, focusing on the importance of giving what the people need, harmonising new and old, and keeping the environment in balance.
Question: How was the process of formulating the blueprint? What was the starting point?
Chan: When I was asked to look at this project, some of the things that really attracted me were the 11MP and the National Physical Plan. Both have strong and noble goals.
A prominent element in both plans is sustainability. When you look at the plans, there are more discussions and goals about people — their wellbeing, education, social unity, social interaction and quality of life.
We envision development not only in the context of the 10,926ha of land, but also in the larger context of Negri Sembilan.
So, we came up with six principles based on our analysis of the two plans and the site.
Firstly, we need to consider things that are already in place. There are landscapes, rivers, mountains, and people living and working there. We must keep things in context.
If there is a village there, let us not build a giant skyscraper next to it. If there is a forest, let us not have major development right next to it.
There needs to be a certain mitigating element that makes people feel inclusive and not disparate.
Secondly, we need connectivity. There are some roads and railroads, but they are not enough.
Thirdly, let us be inclusive of the new and the old. Let us try to blend the two in a constructive way. Let us include landscapes as part of buildings, and not just buildings and then suddenly there is a forest.
If there are older buildings, let us not wipe the slate clean. Let us try, in some ways, to integrate them because one of the shortcomings of any new development is that everything looks the same.
When you look at the best cities, it is always a blend of new and old. Paris and Rome, you name it. Not all buildings are a thousand years old, and not all were built yesterday.
Whatever that is there, let us try to keep it there because it gives us a clue of what has been there, a measurement and a yardstick of history.
Then, there is sustainability. Let us be smart about how we build. Let us harvest rainwater. We are extracting more from the ground than recharging. Over time, we will not have enough water, so let’s be smart about it.
Lastly, let’s try to make it the most wonderful place to live, work and play. Have a high quality of life. We are doing this for the people, not just for making money.
Basically, that was our starting point on how to approach the plan.
We didn’t just go out and do whatever we want. What we did was look at what we have and identify the constraints. There are things you cannot move, such as the mountains, forests and rivers. Also, you don’t want to move indigenous settlements, but rather try to accommodate them.
Q: Can you elaborate on the sustainable elements?
Chan: One sustainable element we are thinking about is reducing the use of fossil fuels, to get people not to drive.
If we have a really rigorous transit system, there is no excuse to drive. People can just walk to work or take the public transport.
We lay it out as best we can. We are going to have transit stops within a five- to 10minute walk. We want to encourage people to walk, but we want to make it as comfortable as possible.
As for open space, it is not necessarily bad. It adds economic and social values. I was born and raised in New York City. Housing and real estates edged along the Central Park, East Side River and Hudson River are the most valued in the city. Those neighbourhoods take the name of the open space they are next to.
What you reduce in quantity of construction, you increase in quality. Yes, it could be economic quality, but if it is a neighbourhood park, that adds social value to the neighbourhood.
Malaysians love to socialise. People love to eat, go out to the sidewalks, the pubs. It provides a common space for people to gather, eat and have social events. It can be everyone’s living room, where it gives