Focus on human needs and Mother Earth when designing urban spaces, architects urged


The Nucleus Tower office building in Mutiara Damansara, Petaling Jaya, by Arkitek MAA. The creation of urban centres will continue to draw people to cities as they look for vibrant cultural and social surroundings that can foster creativity, offer more opportunities and spur innovation. Photos: PAM

Without a doubt, the Covid-19 pandemic has turned our living and working styles upside-down. And that has led to architects rethinking how design responds to these changes.

Oct 5 marked World Architecture Day, which carried the theme “Toward a Better Urban Future” this year. It was celebrated concurrently with UN World Habitat Day, which featured a similar theme, “Housing for All: A Better Urban Future”.

The United Nations’ World Urbanisation Prospects report advised the importance of a well-managed urban growth to achieve sustainable development in three key areas: economic, societal and environmental.

“Covid-19 is not the first, nor will it be the last, pandemic in the world. Humans are agile and highly adaptive. Despite being faced with several pandemics over the last decade, the numbers are showing increased human adaptability to tackling problems compared to the biggest pandemic in the early 20th century, the Spanish Flu, which claimed almost 50 million lives, ” said Malaysian Institute of Architects (PAM) president and architect Datuk Ezumi Harzani Ismail.The Face Platinum in Kuala Lumpur by GDP Architects, which received a Commendation in the 2016 PAM Awards in the Multiple Residential High Rise category.The Face Platinum in Kuala Lumpur by GDP Architects, which received a Commendation in the 2016 PAM Awards in the Multiple Residential High Rise category.

“In a nutshell, when designing for future development, the focus on humans and Mother Earth needs to be prioritised to reduce the impact on the environment. The pandemic helps to remind us of the fragility of our planet, but that's not all there is to it. The pandemic will not be the deciding factor, ” said Ezumi.

He added that the creation of urban centres will continue to draw people to cities as they look for vibrant cultural and social surroundings that can foster creativity, offer more opportunities and spur innovation.

Designing a space for a better urban future should capitalise on the benefits of urban living, such as better infrastructure, high speed connectivity and transportation linkages.

“Thus, when doing so, architects are not just reminded to be mindful of that lurking virus but also to keep in mind the bigger picture of human needs, which is to connect and socialise.”

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