A MAS­TER PLAN OF SUS­TAIN­ABIL­ITY

New Straits Times - - News -

MELISSA DARLYNE CHOW KUALA LUMPUR darlyne@nst.com.my

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

Nor­l­iza Hashim

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