Up­lift­ing peo­ple’s spir­its

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - BRATS - By CAR­LOS RUBEN DOURADO Pho­tos by Valentina Tan brats@thes­tar.com.my

Is it pos­si­ble for the process of ur­ban re­gen­er­a­tion to not only take the past into con­sid­er­a­tion but also how it can in­ter­act with fu­ture com­mu­ni­ties? As time pro­gresses, our city is trans­form­ing be­fore our eyes, de­prived ar­eas are given a new breath of life which changes its orig­i­nal con­text but in some cases also pro­vides op­por­tu­nity for com­mu­nity and eco­nomic growth.

In the fourth in­stal­ment of the #Bet­terCi­ties talk se­ries, a panel of speak­ers were in­tro­duced to not only share their views on to­day’s mod­ern day de­vel­op­ments but also to un­der­stand their per­spec­tives on the role of “place-mak­ing” in the evolv­ing ur­ban land­scape.

Karen Tan, founder of Pocket Projects in sin­ga­pore started this ini­tia­tive three years ago.

she and her team are a cre­ative de­vel­op­ment con­sul­tancy who con­cep­tu­alise and man­age niche ur­ban de­vel­op­ment projects in sin­ga­pore.

“We aren’t in­ter­ested in big, com­mer­cial tow­ers. What we fo­cus on are niche, small de­vel­op­ment projects that are very strongly de­signed with a so­cial blend.”

A year ago, Tan and her team com­pleted a project called The Lorong 24A shop­house se­ries where eight dif­fer­ent ar­chi­tects were asked to re-de­sign eight shop­houses in Gey­lang. “Ev­ery shop­house is the same from the out­side, but when you open the door to each one, it’s like a whole new ‘Alice in Won­der­land’ ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Jen­nifer Kuah, an en­tre­pre­neur born and bred in Perak, grew up among food and pas­tries in her great-grand­fa­ther’s pas­try shop. “I like work­ing in an en­vi­ron­ment where I can just walk freely along the cor­ri­dor and talk to ran­dom peo­ple. That’s how liv­ing should be like, we should get out there, es­pe­cially since young peo­ple are al­ways will­ing to jump into some­thing new.”

The di­rec­tor of Asian­age Hold­ings owns Food Foundry and But­ter + Beans in sec­tion 17 and Feeka on Jalan Me­sui, the lat­est ad­di­tion to her string of cof­fee shops. “Our cof­fee shops are known for be­ing a lit­tle hip­ster but I be­lieve that if I stuck at a ser­vice that made peo­ple happy, I would make it.”

Lim Take Bane, an ar­chi­tect from Kuala Lumpur, spent some of his years train­ing to be an ar­chi­tect in Bri­tain. He high­lighted how many places in Malaysia take on dif­fer­ent flavours at dif­fer­ent times.

“We can see how Jonker’s street in Malacca has evolved from a tiny res­i­den­tial area to one of the main tourist at­trac­tions in Malaysia. Even places like Bangsar have ev­ery­thing you need.”

The ar­chi­tec­ture ad­vo­cate strongly ex­pressed his love for ar­chi­tec­tural her­itage con­ser­va­tion, say­ing that ar­chi­tec­ture is like an empty space, com­ing alive when peo­ple are in it.

“Even at the risk of be­ing van­dalised, cities should be de­signed to up­lift peo­ple’s spirit.”

#Bet­terCi­ties is a cam­paign di­rected at nur­tur­ing a sense of com­mu­nity and shared iden­tity among the peo­ple – from the grass­roots level. The cam­paign aims to im­prove ur­ban liv­ing con­di­tion in south-East Asian cities as well as en­cour­age its peo­ple to be more re­spon­si­ble for the places and spa­ces they are in.

For more in­for­ma­tion on #Bet­terCi­ties, visit bet­ter­citi.es.

brats@thes­tar.com.my

In the fourth in­stal­ment of the #bet­terci­ties talk se­ries, a panel of speak­ers were in­tro­duced to not only share their views on to­day’s mod­ern day de­vel­op­ment but also to un­der­stand their per­spec­tives on the role of ‘place­mak­ing’ in the evolv­ing ur­ban land­scape.

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