#BetterCities is a campaign to make our city more liveable and loveable. But we’re not an island – we’re a peninsula – and we’re proud to be part of a larger community that’s changing urban living from the ground up.
To wrap up the year we wanted to share some of the many initiatives and different groups of people that have made an effort to create positive changes in KL, from individual guerrilla efforts to big, government endorsed projects. Here’s a look at eight different projects that excited us in 2014, and four projects that we’re looking forward to seeing in 2015.
2013: The Year That We Saw…
Cycling Kuala Lumpur is a crowd sourced community project that aims to provide a free, tried and tested bicycle route map for all types of cyclist in KL. Led by Jeffrey Lim, the project has now entered its fourth phase where they are looking into sharing the project with other state and city councils. Recently, they even managed to organise a cycling trip with members of the Selangor Government. The full map will be available by New Year.
Merdeka KL successfully highlighted the history of Merdeka Park and the importance of parks and public spaces in the city. As plans for a 118 storey megatower pushed ahead, the group created a makeshift park near the proposed site by using the five foot-way next to the construction site where the Merdeka Park, the second oldest park in KL, once stood.
Rakan KL also highlighted the Merdeka Park issue by organising a heritage walk every weekend of the month in August, but they have also organised walks of other areas. Run by volunteers and free to attend (with a donation), these folks showed their passion for city heritage by sharing time and knowledge with the public. The same people also organised Rakan Mantin, when the hundred year old Hakka village in Mantin was demolished.
Architect Foo Hui Ping won the grand prize of RM100,000 for her proposal, “Back Lane Project — Our Lost Space” in March for the “Connected Communities” Genovasi Challenge organised by Agensi Inovasi Malaysia (AIM). The project aims to empower communities by encouraging residents to realise the potential of their back lanes and to collaborate with each other on how they can best utilise this space. The challenge indicates that government agencies are realising the potentials of neighbourhood and community projects.
A group of artists set out on a mission to beautify Kampong Padang Jawa in Shah Alam, using street art. The project is led and facilitated by local artist, Aishah Baharuddin, who encourages young residents of Kampong Padang Jawa to produce environmental messages through art. This project happened during school holidays in March, and what began as a street mural culminated in a street art festival.
CrowdCities was winner of the Social Innovation Camp (SIC) held in KL in September. This app initiated by Lim Jun Yuen aims to make it easier for people to carry out urban rejuvenation projects. Users of the platform can opt to suggest projects, carry out fundraising activities or recruit volunteers for urban projects.
Urbanify is a group of creative individuals that uses good design to improve living conditions in the city. In 2012, Urbanify built an installation which doubled up as a seating area at Urbanscapes. After the festival, they re-used the materials from their installation to design pop-up stools for people waiting for public transport in the Bandar Utama and Damansara Perdana area. These makeshift guerrilla “bus stops” were not only an interesting feature to the urban landscape but a useful amenity for the public. Unfortunately the stools were removed one month after its installation.
This was a partnership between #BetterCities and five groups of architecture students from Taylor’s University to transform five bus stops in Bandar Sunway into better places using materials sourced from junkyards. The end results were five very different and interesting bus stops including a ‘ketuk-ketuk’ bus stop.
2014: What to look out for…
Although this project will not be completed until 2015, efforts will be made next year by the Cities for People project to create a shaded canopy walkway from section 10 in Petaling Jaya all the way to section 10. The eco-corridor will be 3 km long and will involve tree-lined walk paths and bicycle lanes to make it easier for people to get to the areas connected by the path.
With a few partners and friends, landscape architect Ng Seksan is working towards transforming unused TNB (Tenaga Nasional Berhad) reserves into community parks. He has his eyes on one such reserve in Bangsar, envisioning a community-run park alongside with allotments for urban farming. He is currently seeking permission from the authorities and raising funds. Let’s hope to see this park in 2014!
Back in 2012, the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) had its first blue coloured bicycle lane in Damansara Damai which runs 5.6 km starting in Jalan PJU 10/14. This is just one-tenth of the 56km bicycle lanes which the council plans to link the city including cycle racks to be created behind bus-stops leading to the Damansara Damai Urban Park. MBPJ plans to have the next stretch of bicycle lanes linking the park and Kota Damansara through Jalan Kepong-Kuala Selangor.
The Ipoh Bus Project was actually started last year but is rolling out more ambitious plans for next year. The brainchild of Alex Lee, it’s an initiative to improve bus stops and bus services in Ipoh. Lee is now working on creating a citizen-initiative comprehensive bus guide to reignite and promote the usage of Ipoh’s cultural asset amongst Ipoh’s inhabitants, and especially the younger generation.