ABOUT 70% of Malaysia’s population today resides in urban areas, indicating the country is facing rapid urbanisation resulting from rural to urban migration.
Our cities and towns are going to be the frontiers for building a new Malaysia.
This is where our local authorities have to play a pivotal and crucial role to deal with the many challenges and problems faced in the urbanised environment.
One of the many challenges that needs to be addressed is the social impact of urban design.
What is urban design and what are its objectives?
Urban design is defined as the art of shaping the interaction between people and places, the environment and urban form, natural and built assets and influencing the processes which lead to successful villages, towns and cities.
Urban design generally aims to create a memorable city rich in its diversity of built and natural assets while also being accessible, comprehensible and friendly for its residents.
The city environment must also be functional and liveable.
Conserving cultural heritage is also important as it helps the city offer a rich blend of traditional and modern images.
Here, urban design also aims to create a tropical garden city that is sensitive to its natural setting appropriate to the region.
Through these objectives, urban design helps reinforce a sense of belonging in its inhabitants while also engendering a sense of pride among them by highlighting the historical and cultural assets of the city.
It also provides areas within the city with their own identifiable sense of place, adding to the texture of the city experience and promoting the notion of neighbourhoods or precincts.
This helps to foster a sense of community and provides a congenial environment for social integration.
Urban design also helps reconcile the functional and aesthetic aspects of the city while generally improving comfort levels within a structured plan.
Through urban design, we can create comfortable working and living spaces, use resources wisely and create and environment that stimulates good behaviour and better interaction.
Another benefit is that it encourages a safer environment through crime prevention strategies including better lighting in public spaces, pedestrian walkways, alleys and car parks.
Striving for a healthy city is one of urban design’s goals and it does this by ensuring a clean and safe physical environment for cityfolk.
As Malaysia undergoes rapid urbanisation, and with the creation of more cities and towns, local authorities, which are responsible for meeting the community’s needs, have to provide efficient services based on good governance.
All local authorities need to prepare themselves to grapple with the multifarious problems of our towns and cities as well as to chart and implement strategies to meet the needs and aspirations of these urban growth centers.
TAN SRI LEE LAM THYE