In KL, experts work overtime to get formula right in creating world-class sustainable city

Various efforts have been planned and implemented by the government to address environmental issues that are increasingly critical today. — Picture courtesy of Institute of Landscape Architects Malaysia
Various efforts have been planned and implemented by the government to address environmental issues that are increasingly critical today. — Picture courtesy of Institute of Landscape Architects Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, April 15 — The next time you drive around Kuala Lumpur and get annoyed at the various construction being done, remember this.

It is being done for the future and to correct mistakes of the past.

Although the many benefits of systematic and efficient cities are well understood, it comes as no surprise that unplanned urbanisation brings risks of profound social instability and major environmental risks, especially if planning efforts are not sufficient to cope with the influx of new inhabitants.

Recognising the forthcoming issues the country and its major cities may face as a result of urbanisation, the professionals including landscape architects have been hard at work to put together effective solutions through broad landscape architectural planning.

Institute of Landscape Architect Malaysia council member Khairul Amri Adam and Morphosis Design principal landscape architect director Salehuddin Idris are among the many landscape architects who aspire to build a more conducive environment through their expertise. — Picture by Choy May Choo
Institute of Landscape Architect Malaysia council member Khairul Amri Adam and Morphosis Design principal landscape architect director Salehuddin Idris are among the many landscape architects who aspire to build a more conducive environment through their expertise. — Picture by Choy May Choo

According to Institute of Landscape Architect Malaysia (ILAM) council member Khairul Amri Adam, the “Greener KL” initiative, which had similar objectives, started much earlier in early 1970s.

However, Amri, who is also Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) senior landscape architect said at that time, Kuala Lumpur wasn’t a well-planned city and it was a big challenge for the city hall to redevelop the capital as there were already many buildings and roads in the way.

“Hence, there have been many ongoing construction and redevelopment efforts around Klang Valley recently,” he added.

He also said various efforts have been planned and implemented by the government to address environmental issues that are increasingly critical today.

“This includes the launch of Kuala Lumpur Low Carbon Society Blueprint 2030 initiative that presents comprehensive climate change mitigation policies and detailed strategies to guide the development of Kuala Lumpur towards becoming a world-class sustainable city in the next decade,” he added.

According to Morphosis Design principal landscape architect director Salehuddin Idris, some of the trees planted 30 years ago throughout the city are not suitable for urban areas due to their fast-growing nature.

“Now, most of the local authorities are trying to replant trees that are more suitable for big cities due to space constraints,” he said.

Kuala Lumpur now boasts 16 public parks and many green recreational spaces. — Picture courtesy of Institute of Landscape Architects Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur now boasts 16 public parks and many green recreational spaces. — Picture courtesy of Institute of Landscape Architects Malaysia

Moving forward, Amri hinted that there will be extensive plans by City Hall to expand green spaces, pedestrian walkways, clean the rivers and build more bicycle lanes to connect people from one public place to another.

He said the city now has 16 public parks and most of them are already connected to each other via green networks.

However, he added that although the local authorities have been trying to create a more conducive living environment, many people still vandalise the trees and public amenities.

“Recently, we were notified that many trees in front of the shops along Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman were illegally chopped by irresponsible parties,” added Amri who is also the recipient of Young Landscape Architect Award 2018.

Kuala Lumpur City Hall launched the River of Life project in 2012 to reconnect the city, the river and the people together. — Picture courtesy of Institute of Landscape Architects Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur City Hall launched the River of Life project in 2012 to reconnect the city, the river and the people together. — Picture courtesy of Institute of Landscape Architects Malaysia

“It is very important for the public to understand that trees are a source of oxygen and it takes many years for them to grow.”

For the uninitiated, the scope of work of landscape architect is staggering.

Salehuddin said many people think landscape architecture is only about planting trees, but that’s not true.

“From master planning townships developments to designing attractive and functional landscape projects such as public parks, playgrounds, gardens, walkways, roads, lakes, car parks and public recreational spaces, our role is to create more liveable environments for the inhabitants,” he added.

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