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Sumita Jayapalasingam Bachelor of Interior Architecture (Hons)
Submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Architecture
Deakin University January 2009
I certify that the thesis entitled
MALAYSIA’S TERRACED HOUSING Towards an Environmentally Sustainable Future
submitted for the degree of
Master of Architecture
is the result of my own work and that where reference is made to the work of others, due acknowledgment is given.
I also certify that any material in the thesis which has been accepted for a degree or diploma by any university or institution is identified in the text.
Signed ..................................................................................………………. Date......................................................................................……………….
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ABSTRACT ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ABBRIEVIATIONS viii x xi
1.1 1.2 1.3
Problem Statement and Research Aim Research Approach Outline of Thesis 2 3 4
7 7 8 15 30 35 35 39 43
2.1 Housing Malaysia’s Masses 2.1.1 Malaysia – A Brief Introduction 2.1.2 A Concise Historical Overview 2.1.3 The Terraced House 2.2 Regionalism – Architectural Identity
2.3 Green Design 2.3.1 Definitions 2.3.2 The Malaysian Government’s Involvement 2.4 Hypothesis
3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5
Introduction Questionnaire Interviews Case Studies Analysis of Data 45 48 51 51 53
Results : Questionnaire Results : Interviews 57 75 76 76 90 94
4.3 Results : Case Studies 4.3.1 Category 1 : Typical Terraced Housing 4.3.2 Category 2 : Connecting With The Environment 4.3.3 Category 3 : Alternative Options
Introduction 108 109 110 111 113 113 115 115 118 118 120 120 121 122
5.2 Malaysia’s Terraced Housing in the Twenty-First Century 5.2.1 Greenery 5.2.2 Spatial Organisation 5.2.3 Thermal Comfort 5.2.4 Energy Consumption 5.2.5 Conclusion 5.3 Responses from the Environment
5.4 Roles and Responsibilities 5.4.1 General Population 5.4.2 Developers 5.4.3 Industry Professionals 5.4.4 Government Bodies 5.4.5 Summary
6.1 6.2 6.3
Findings Limitations of the Research Further Research 124 124 125
APPENDIX 1 – The People of Malaysia APPENDIX 2 – Malaysia’s Architectural Chronology APPENDIX 3 – Plain Language Statement & Consent Form APPENDIX 4 – Letter of Invitation APPENDIX 5 – Fact Sheet and Questionnaire APPENDIX 6 – Guidelines for Extensions to Terraced Houses in Kuala Lumpur APPENDIX 7 – 20 Trees Marketing Excerpts APPENDIX 8 – Housing Price Categories in Malaysia APPENDIX 9 – Newspaper Articles : Landslide 127 130 133 139 140 147 174 176 177
LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 2.1 Houses with Austronesian influences. Figure 2.2 Orang Asli homes in the Taman Negara (National Park) forest. Figure 2.3 A Malay House in Sandakan, Sabah. Figure 2.4 An illustration of a longhouse belonging to the Orang Ulu ethnic group. Figure 2.5 The Malaccan townhouse. Figure 2.6 An axonometric illustration of a Malaccan townhouse. Figure 2.7 The early settlements in Kuala Lumpur-1884. Figure 2.8 An axonometric illustration of a shophouse. Figure 2.9 English terraced houses in Reading- c.1900. Figure 2.10 Early Chinese shophouses (L) & the earliest form of the terraced house (R) Figure 2.11 A generic terraced housing development with 24’x80’ homes in Selangor scheduled for completion in June 2009. Figure 2.12 Rows of terraced housing dominate the residential scene in Bangsar. Figure 2.13 General modifications to the terraced house. Figure 2.14 Summary of Supply of Residential Units by Type in Malaysia Figure 2.15 Summary of Supply of Residential Units by Type in Malaysia Figure 2.16 A colonial bungalow: the Agnes Keith house, Sandakan, Sabah. Figure 2.17 The Amanda Superlink Home – D’Kayangan Township. Figure 2.18 The Amanda Superlink Home Floor Plan. Figure 3.1 An overall diagram of the research process Figure 3.2 Outline of research methodology Figure 3.3 Percentage breakdown of participants Figure 4.1 Percentage breakdown of response to Question 1 Figure 4.2 Site Plan – Bukit Prima Pelangi 2 Storey Terraced Houses Figure 4.3 Location Map – Bukit Prima Pelangi 2 Storey Terraced Houses Figure 4.4 Streetscape – Bukit Prima Pelangi 2 Storey Terraced Houses Figure 4.5 Intermediate Lot Layout Plan – Bukit Prima Pelangi Figure 4.6 Rear of houses and back lane – Bukit Prima Pelangi Figure 4.7 This adjacent housing development, by the same developer Figure 4.8 Streetscape – Bukit Prima Pelangi 2 Storey Terraced Houses Figure 4.9 Intermediate Lot Elevations – Bukit Prima Pelangi Figure 4.10 Intermediate Lot Cross Section – Bukit Prima Pelangi Figure 4.11 Location Map – Opal 2 Storey Terraced Houses Figure 4.12 Streetscape – Opal 2 Storey Terraced Houses Figure 4.13 Intermediate Lot Layout Plan – Opal 2 Storey Terraced Houses Figure 4.14 Front Facade – Opal 2 Storey Terraced Houses Figure 4.15 Rear of houses – Opal 2 Storey Terraced Houses Figure 4.16 Location Map – Studio M 2 Storey Terraced Houses Figure 4.17 Intermediate Lot Layout Plan – Studio M 2 Storey Terraced Houses 23 25 26 27 29 32 33 33 45 46 49 57 76 77 77 78 79 79 80 80 81 82 83 83 84 84 86 87 9 10 10 11 17 17 19 20 20 21
Figure 4.18 Show Unit Front Facade – Studio M 2 Storey Terraced Houses Figure 4.19 Show unit interior – Studio M 2 Storey Terraced Houses Figure 4.20 Artist’s Impression – 20 Trees 3 Storey Terraced Houses Figure 4.21 Location Map – 20 Trees 3 Storey Terraced Houses Figure 4.22 Site Plan – 20 Trees Figure 4.23 Type B1A Layout Plan – 20 Trees 3 Storey Terraced Houses Figure 4.24 Type B1 Garden Home Front Facade - 20 Trees Figure 4.25 Site Plan – Nong Chik Heights Figure 4.26 A generic honeycomb housing layout & a generic terraced housing layout. Figure 4.27 Location Map – Nong Chik Heights Figure 4.28 Artist’s Impression of Layout – Nong Chik Heights Figure 4.29 Artist’s Impression – Quadruplex & Sextuplex – Nong Chik Heights Figure 4.30 Quadruplex Layout Plan – Nong Chik Heights Figure 4.31 Quadruplex drawings – Nong Chik Heights Figure 4.32 Sextuplex Layout Plan – Nong Chik Heights Figure 4.33 Sextuplex drawings – Nong Chik Heights Figure 4.34 Thermal comfort levels achieved with an insulated roof and mechanical ventilation. Figure 4.35 An artist’s impression of the terraced house prototype
88 88 90 91 91 92 93 95 95 96 96 97 98 100 101 102
Figure 4.36 UKM lecturer and researcher Mazlan Tahir with a scaled model of the terraced house prototype Figure 4.37 A cross section diagram of the terraced house prototype 105 106
Figure 4.38 A diagram illustrating the prefabricated modular panels that would form the walls and floors, accommodating various configurations Figure 5.1 Abstract of Case Study Analysis Figure 5.2 The slope for the Damansara 21 development. 106 110 117
LIST OF TABLES
Table 2.1 Malaysian Architectural Chronology - Extracts Table 3.1 Questionnaire target groups and number of responses received Table 3.2 Data sources for case studies Table 4.1 Response to Question 1 Table 4.2 Response to Question 2 Table 4.3 Response to Question 3 Table 4.4 Further Breakdown of Response to Question 3 Table 4.5 Response to Question 4 Table 4.6 Response to Question 5 Table 4.7 Response to Question 6 Table 4.8 Further Breakdown of Response to Question 6 Table 4.9 Response to Question 7 Table 4.10 Further Breakdown of Response to Question 7 Table 4.11 Response to Question 8 Table 4.12 Response to Question 9 Table 4.13 Further Breakdown of Response to Question 9 Table 4.14 Response to Question 10 Table 4.15 Breakdown of Response to Question 10 Table 4.16 Response to Question 11 Table 4.17 Further Breakdown of Response to Question 11 Table 4.18 Response to Question 11(a) Table 5.1 Land-use efficiency based on generic layouts in Figure 4.27. 15 49 52 57 59 60 61 63 65 66 67 67 68 69 69 70 71 71 72 72 74 112
The study builds on and contributes to existing studies in the implementation of environmentally sustainable elements into Malaysia’s housing developments for the general population. It concentrates on the terraced house typology because it is most common in the form of a single storey or double storey unit, and is the dominant form of housing in Malaysia.
Studies in this area have examined the feasibility of using different construction methods and materials, and developed prototype housing models as environmentally sustainable alternatives for the Malaysian terraced house typology. However, there has not been enough focus on producing such housing from developers or the government. This study provides additional insight into where the current focus is on housing developments incorporating environmentally sustainable elements, and possible future directions of such housing developments. Although these housing developments exist in other countries, based on the scope of the literature review, it appears that little analytic attention has been paid towards identifying methods and strategies that will enable the creation of environmentally sustainable housing developments for Malaysia’s general population.
The data analysis for this study involves information gathered from primary sources and secondary sources comprising house plans, papers, journals, newspaper articles, reports, a questionnaire, interviews and case studies. The questionnaire was created to obtain personal opinions and perceptions of home owners, developers and industry professionals on the topic of terraced housing design in Malaysia with a focus on environmental sustainability. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with the willing participants in the form of further discussions on the responses given in the questionnaire. Categories of case studies were formed to group the various housing projects that were looked at in order to understand terraced housing in Malaysia. The categories consist of typical terraced housing developments, terraced housing developments purporting to adopt
environmentally sustainable elements and alternatives to the current form of terraced housing.
The findings of this study discuss the feasibility of enabling the incorporation of environmentally sustainable elements into housing developments for Malaysia’s general population. This is done by looking at the reasons why such elements have not been incorporated into these housing developments and discussing methods of implementation.
I wish to thank Dr Mirjana Lozanovska and Dr David Beynon of the School of Architecture and Building of Deakin University, for their supervision, patience, guidance and support throughout the course of this thesis.
I would also like to thank all the participants involved with this research project for their contributions, valuable time and insight.
IBS KLCH NMP RM SDB
Industrialised Building System Kuala Lumpur City Hall Ninth Malaysia Plan Ringgit Malaysia - the Malaysian currency unit Selangor Dredging Berhad
Problem Statement and Research Aim
“For people always seem to have known how to produce the habitat they need, as naturally and intuitively as birds build nests.”1 -Charles Correa
This thesis concentrates on the terraced house typology because it is presently the dominant form of housing in Malaysia, and is most common in the form of a single storey or double storey unit. Malaysia’s vernacular homes such as the Orang Asli2 dwellings, the Malay house and the longhouse, as well as the original Malaysian terraced house typologies were built to comfortably accommodate its occupants in the tropical climate. However, in the current Malaysian context, the intuition mentioned above by Correa, appears to have been somewhat clouded by today’s ever-present technology, as the natural environment is ignored and a more acceptable version of the climate is tailored to accommodate the built environment with the use of active cooling systems such as air conditioning units. Besides the issue of thermal comfort, this study also addresses the effects of housing developments on the natural environment.
This thesis hypothesises that the terraced housing presently being built to accommodate Malaysia’s general population does not contain environmentally sustainable elements. Consequently, for housing developers to produce housing developments for Malaysia’s general population which incorporate environmentally sustainable elements, there is a need to establish if the lack of such elements is perceived as a problem by members of the general population, building and construction industry professionals, housing developers and the government.
Lim, W & Tan, HB 1998, Contemporary Vernacular – Evoking Traditions in Asian Architecture, Select Books, Singapore, pp.10. 2 Orang Asli translates into English directly as ‘Original People’. Orang = people ; Asli = original. Refer to Appendix 1 for further information on the Orang Asli.
Studies in this area have examined the feasibility of using different construction methods and materials, and have developed prototype housing models as environmentally sustainable alternatives for the Malaysian terraced house typology. However, there has not been enough focus from developers or the government on producing such housing. This study provides additional insight into the position of terraced housing developments incorporating environmentally sustainable elements in the Malaysian context, and possible future directions of such housing developments.
Although these housing developments exist in other countries, based on the scope of the literature review, it appears that little analytic attention has been paid towards identifying methods and strategies that will enable the creation of environmentally sustainable housing developments for Malaysia’s general population.
The thesis aims to identify the factors that are enabling the current production of terraced housing developments for Malaysia’s general population which are lacking environmentally sustainable elements. Doing so will allow for possible solutions to be put forward to improve the relationship between these housing developments and the surrounding natural environment.
The data analysis for this study involves information gathered from primary sources and secondary sources comprising house plans, papers, journals, newspaper articles, reports, a questionnaire, interviews and case studies. The questionnaire was created to obtain personal opinions and perceptions of home owners, developers and industry professionals on the topic of terraced housing design in Malaysia with a focus on environmental sustainability.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with the willing participants in the form of further discussions on the responses given in the questionnaire.
Categories of case studies were formed to group the various housing projects that were looked at in order to understand terraced housing in Malaysia. The categories consist of typical terraced housing developments, terraced housing developments purporting to adopt environmentally sustainable elements and alternatives to the current form of terraced housing.
Outline of Thesis
The Literature Review chapter begins with discussing housing for Malaysia’s masses by providing a brief introduction to Malaysia, which is followed by a concise historical overview of the country’s housing and a section on the Malaysian terraced house and its origins.
Theoretical issues pertaining to regionalism and architectural identity are briefly discussed in the Malaysian context. The definitions and principles of green and sustainable design are discussed towards the end of this chapter. This section ends with outlines and aims of the Malaysian government in relation to environmentally sustainable design. A hypothetical statement concludes this chapter.
The Methodology chapter discusses the methods employed to tackle the hypothesis. Mixed methodologies comprising qualitative and quantitative approaches are used to gather data. The nature of the questionnaire, interviews and case studies are addressed before the chapter concludes with a discussion of the data analysis process.
The Results chapter compiles and analyses the outcomes of the questionnaire and interviews. The case studies are analysed and compared using four categories : Greenery, Spatial Organisation, Thermal Comfort and Energy Consumption.
The Discussion chapter summarises the outcomes of the Results chapter and elaborates on the various factors that will enable a better relationship between housing developments for Malaysia’s general population and the natural environment.
The Conclusion chapter states the findings of this thesis and discusses its implications. This thesis draws its conclusions primarily from the questionnaire and interview results as well as the analysis of data from the case studies.
Housing Malaysia’s Masses
Malaysia – A Brief Introduction
Situated in the South East Asian region, the Federation of Malaysia comprises Peninsula Malaysia and the states of Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo. Located between 2º and 7º north of the Equator, Peninsula Malaysia is separated from the states of Sabah and Sarawak by the South China Sea.3 Peninsular Malaysia shares its northern border with Thailand and has Singapore as its southern neighbour. Sabah and Sarawak both share its borders with Indonesia while Sarawak also shares a border with Brunei.
The tropical climate provides warm, humid weather all year round. Temperatures in the lowlands range from 21ºC to 32ºC, and in the highlands range between 15°C to 25°C.4 The mean monthly humidity range is 70% to 90%.5 Coastal areas are exposed to trade winds, while inland areas are windless, resulting in thermal stress during the day.6 Annual rainfall, usually in the form of thunderstorms varies from 2000mm to 2500mm.7
Malaysia is considered one of Asia’s most culturally diverse nations with its multi-ethnic, multicultural population comprising Malays, Chinese, Indians and more than 200 tribal indigenous ethnic groups.8 Over 27 million9 people live in this country, with seventy per cent concentrated in Peninsular Malaysia.10 The average household comprises 4.6 persons.11
Tourism Malaysia, About Us-Fast Facts, retrieved 14 November 2008, <http://www.tourism.gov.my/en/about/facts.asp> 4 Ibid. 5 Malaysia Meteorological Department, retrieved 14 November 2008, <http://www.met.gov.my/english/education/climate/climate04.html> 6 Ahmad, SS 2008, ‘Kuala Lumpur: A Hot Humid Climate’, in R Hyde (ed), Bioclimatic Housing – Innovative designs for warm climates, Sterling, London, pp.269. 7 Tourism Malaysia, About Us-Fast Facts, retrieved 14 November 2008, <http://www.tourism.gov.my/en/about/facts.asp> 8 UNICEF Malaysia, Malaysia – Nationhood in Progress, retrieved 14 November 2008, <http://www.unicef.org/malaysia/overview.html> Refer to Appendix 1 for further information on the people of Malaysia. 9 Tourism Malaysia, About Us-Fast Facts, retrieved 14 November 2008, <http://www.tourism.gov.my/en/about/facts.asp> 10 UNICEF Malaysia, Malaysia – Nationhood in Progress, retrieved 14 November 2008, <http://www.unicef.org/malaysia/overview.html> 11 UNDP in Malaysia, retrieved 14 November 2008, <http://www.undp.org.my/index.php?navi_id=8>
Manufacturing constitutes the largest single component of Malaysia's economy, which has tourism and commodities such as petroleum, palm oil, natural rubber and timber as other major contributors.12
A Concise Historical Overview
This section aims to briefly discuss Malaysia’s history of housing for the general population. Malaysia’s vernacular houses, with the exception of the simple makeshift shelters of nomadic groups, are in essence post and beam structures raised on stilts, with gabled roofs and permeable walls and flooring.
These vernacular houses are built by the occupants or members of the community to suit their socioeconomic, cultural and environmental requirements. Besides being flexible with their design and the use of the interior spaces, these houses accommodate the tropical climate fairly well. The types of vernacular houses found in Malaysia generally consist of three main types: Orang Asli dwellings, the Malay house, and the longhouse.
Vernacular homes in Malaysia take on a range of forms with subtle differences. The process of seeking the origins of these vernacular homes leads to the Austronesian-speaking seafarers whose migrations through South East Asia and Oceania began at least 6000 years ago13. The use of the post-and-beam method of construction, with raised floors is probably the most distinct features of the Austronesian house architecture.
Tourism Malaysia, About Us-Fast Facts, retrieved 14 November 2008, <http://www.tourism.gov.my/en/about/facts.asp> 13 Fee, CV 1998, The Encyclopedia of Malaysia, Vol. 5: Architecture, Archipelago Press, Singapore, pp.14.
Figure 2.1 Houses with Austronesian influences.
Source : Fee, CV 1998, The Encyclopedia of Malaysia, Vol. 5: Architecture, Archipelago Press, Singapore, pp.17.
There are 18 distinct Orang Asli groups which live on the Malay peninsula. The three main groups are the Negritos in the north, the Senoi in the centre and the Proto-Malays in the south.14 The Orang Asli traditional forest dwellings are basic timber shelters with thatch roofs. These dwellings are built to perform as basic shelters as the Orang Asli regard the forests as their home and they do not have to store material goods.
It is uncertain what the future holds in regards to maintaining their cultural identity because even though there are still some Orang Asli who continue to live in their traditional dwellings in the forest, a growing number have moved
Fee, CV 1998, The Encyclopedia of Malaysia, Vol. 5: Architecture, Archipelago Press, Singapore, pp.12.
to zinc-roofed raised houses on the outskirts of small towns as a result of rapid modernisation.15
Figure 2.2 Orang Asli homes in the Taman Negara (National Park) forest.
Source : S.Jayapalasingam’s photograph – 2007.
The Malay house styles differ slightly based on their locations throughout the different states on the Malay peninsula. Evolving throughout the years, the Malay house is typically constructed using local materials, methods and craftsmanship.
Figure 2.3 A Malay House in Sandakan, Sabah.
Source : S.Jayapalasingam’s photograph – 2008.
The generic features of the Malay house are the posts which support the raised house, and its high steeply sloping roof with gables at both ends. The
Fee, CV 1998, The Encyclopedia of Malaysia, Vol. 5: Architecture, Archipelago Press, Singapore, pp.12.
house is constructed with prefabricated timber components. The roofing generally at present, has evolved from the thatch roof made of palm leaves, to zinc sheets which fail to match the insulation properties of the thatch roof. The thatch roof provided an acceptable level of thermal comfort. In West Malaysia, on the island of Borneo, the common traditional vernacular dwelling was the longhouse. The form and layout of the longhouse varied according to the ethnic groups who built them, as well as the relationships between families and the community. The longhouses housed hundreds of people, ranging from 20 to 80 apartments per unit.16 With several families being accommodated in each longhouse, generally, each family has its own private unit but shares communal areas such as the area for drying crops or the gallery for social activities.17These houses were built on stilts, using the materials from the surrounding environment such as timber and bamboo. The houses had pitched roofs made with thatched leaves or bamboo.
Figure 2.4 An illustration of a longhouse belonging to the Orang Ulu ethnic group.
Source: Fee, CV 1998, The Encyclopedia of Malaysia, Vol. 5: Architecture, Archipelago Press, Singapore, pp.35.
The raised floor being a key element of the local vernacular architecture, has its advantages. Some of these advantages are as follows18: (i) Using stilts enables the building to work better with the natural terrain, when it comes to creating a level floor. (ii) In low lying, flood prone areas, raised dwellings will not be seriously affected by flash floods.
Fee, CV 1998, The Encyclopedia of Malaysia, Vol. 5: Architecture, Archipelago Press, Singapore, pp.34. Ibid. 18 Chai, ML 2007(18 March), ‘Houses on stilts exude a rustic charm’, New Sunday Times, pp.31.
The raised floor also provides the occupants with an increased level of privacy as there is no direct visual connection at eye level from the streets.
Levels of internal thermal comfort are increased as direct heat from the ground is diffused and the raised level optimises the opportunity for the interiors to be naturally ventilated with land breezes.
The following table comprises relevant extracts from S.Vlatseas’s Malaysian architectural chronology.19
Period Pre-16th Century Architectural Origins / Influences c. 40000-2500 -The earliest inhabitants of the region (the Orang Asli BCE Negritos) build temporary shelters of saplings and palm leaf thatch, the prototype of the first indigenous dwelling.
c. 2800-500 BCE
-Houses built on posts are probably introduced to Sabah and Sarawak via Austronesian sea migrations. -Orang Asli Senoi houses are constructed with poles, bamboo, palm thatch and rattan.
-Hindu-Buddhist beliefs introduced through trade 500-1300 CE contacts are incorporated into existing indigenous beliefs, Permanent architecture in brick, stone and laterite blocks appear in the form of Buddhist and Hindu shrines. -The arrival of Islam in the 14th Century greatly influences Malay culture and tradition. -A new state, Malacca, is formed. Chinese and Portuguese accounts describe wooden palaces, watch towers and palisades located in Malacca. 16
-The Spice Trade between the East and West
Fee, CV 1998, The Encyclopedia of Malaysia, Vol. 5: Architecture, Archipelago Press, Singapore, pp.8-9. Refer to Appendix 2 for detailed chronology.
develops Malacca into a vast, cosmopolitan trading centre in which Tamils, Arabs, Chinese, Persians, Javanese and others each live in their own quarters in the town. -In the countryside, the houses of the Malays are raised off the ground on trees trunks or bamboo posts. Immigrants and traders from Minangkabau, Sumatra, introduce their house-building techniques and forms, such as the shallow ‘U’ shaped curved roof. -Chinese settlers introduce traditional elements such as courtyards and masonry staircases. -On the east coast of the peninsula, immigrants from southern Thailand introduce their artistic traditions and house styles which include high-pitched roofs.
-The Portuguese conquer Malacca and it becomes the centre of their eastern trading empire.
-The Dutch take over Malacca from the Portuguese and control it as a trade emporium until 1824. -A permanent settlement of shopkeepers, craftsmen and farmers from southern China establishes itself in the early 17th Century, although Chinese traders came and settled as early as the 14th Century. Many of these early settlers come without their families and form marriage and working ties with the local population. The Baba-Nyonya culture is formed. They develop a distinctive brand of the Malay language, dress, food and customs, but maintain the traditional Chinese urban house form. -The earliest types of townhouses, or row houses in Malacca are built during the Dutch occupation. They are much deeper than elsewhere in the country, often extending from one street back to the next. Some of these houses had their back out to the sea allowing goods to be loaded and access to water transportation.
-Captain Francis Light founded Penang. This signals
the start of British involvement in the Malay Peninsula, which is to have a profound influence on the political system, administration, architecture and lifestyle of the country. -The Malayan bungalow emerges, a mixture of European and local features, such as timber posts and thatched roofs.
-The British disembark in Malacca where they establish a joint Anglo-Dutch administration. Malacca goes into a decline as Penang and Singapore emerge as trading posts.
-The Dutch are assigned Indonesia while the British set up the Straits Settlements of Penang, Malacca and Singapore in 1826, and continue their process of expansion in the country.
-New tin mines open in Perak and Selangor and lead to the growth of small towns. There is a mass migration of Chinese labourers to the tin mines, who bring with them their traditional dwelling design. Twostorey shophouses become common in all new towns.
-Indentured labourers from South India and Ceylon are brought in to work on rubber plantations.
-The narrow-fronted townhouse becomes the prototype house of the urban Chinese in major towns. In 1884, the British introduce formal building by-laws.
-Kuala Lumpur, located in Selangor is made the capital of the Federated Malays States. Tremendous growth and a building boom ensues, due to the colonial government and private enterprise. -Although solid masonry replaces timber and thatch in the towns, the Malays and indigenous groups continue to live in their own style of housing. Civil servants and
colonial entrepreneurs live in spacious wooden bungalows raised on brick piers. 20
-European and Chinese merchants, the nouveau riche of the time, build vast, opulent mansions. Ornate facades are grafted onto traditional Chinese shophouses. -Most urban dwellers live in modest link houses ( also known as row houses or terraced houses), and in most rural areas, timber dwellings continue to reflect local styles.
-Mass migration to the cities results in the creation of new towns. Terraced housing developments increase.
-Increased urban migration and a growing middle class result in a demand for mass residential housing on the outskirts of towns. The traditional urban shophouse is no longer the choice of residence for the general urban population.
Table 2.1 Malaysian Architectural Chronology - Extracts
(Refer to Appendix 2 for full chronology)
The Terraced House
Origins of the Terraced House Moving on to another typology; the Malaysian terraced house has its origins associated with the Malaccan townhouses which date back to the seventeenth century and the Chinese shophouses which date back to the nineteenth century.
The earliest types of townhouses or row houses were built in Malacca during the Dutch occupation in the seventeenth century. The architectural influences on these townhouses were Chinese and Dutch. The Chinese influences were identified by the unique roofs with rounded gabled ends, which originated in
China, and they were tiled with Chinese clay tiles. As for the Dutch influences, according to Chun, Hassan and Noordin, from the Universiti Sains Malaysia’s School of Housing, Building and Planning, these townhouses were very similar to the traditional Dutch row houses as: “ (i) The brickwork of the drainage system has its own characteristics. (ii) The material used for the steps at the main entrance and at the doorway of the passage leading into the air well, indicated the social status of the owner. (iii) The hood which existed above the kitchen was made of wood.”20
A number of the Chinese traders who stopped by at the Malaccan port chose to settle down in Malacca as early as the fourteenth century. In the early seventeenth century, a settlement of shopkeepers, craftsmen and farmers from southern China was established.21 As these Chinese migrants were all men, they married the local Malay women, resulting in a community of SinoMalayans also known as Baba-Nyonya people.
The dwellings of these settlers were in the form of the Malaccan townhouse, which was of Chinese origin, fused with Malay and European influences. In the mid seventeenth century, Malacca, which was a Portuguese colony, was taken over by the Dutch. The Dutch remained until the British took over in the late eighteenth century.
Chun, HK, Hassan, AS & Noordin, NM, An Influence of Colonial Architecture to Building Styles and Motifs in Colonial Cities in Malaysia, 8th International Conference of the Asian Planning Schools Association, 11-14th September 2005, retrieved 3 February 2008, <http://www.apsa2005.net/FullPapers/PdfFormat/Full%20Paper%20(AH)/Ho%20Kah%20Chun.pdf> 21 Fee, CV 1998, The Encyclopedia of Malaysia, Vol. 5: Architecture, Archipelago Press, Singapore, pp.8.
Figure 2.5 The Malaccan townhouse.
Source : Fee, CV 1998, The Encyclopedia of Malaysia, Vol. 5: Architecture, Archipelago Press, Singapore, pp.92.
Figure 2.6 An axonometric illustration of a Malaccan townhouse.
Source : Vlatseas, S 1990, A History of Malaysian Architecture, Longman, Singapore, pp.99.
The Malaccan townhouse is generally 10 meters wide and stretches to a depth of about 68 meters.22 These houses have internal courtyards which allow for air and light to enter the long narrow edifice which is otherwise closed off from the outside world. According to Ismail, a Universiti Teknologi
Fee, CV 1998, The Encyclopedia of Malaysia, Vol. 5: Architecture, Archipelago Press, Singapore, pp.93.
Malaysia lecturer with an architectural background, this townhouse typology reflected the desire of the Chinese settlers to copy dwellings in China. She states that it is surprising the townhouses occupied such narrow elongated sites, when there was an abundance of land in Malacca at the time they were constructed.23
Ismail concludes that it is possible that the Chinese settlers simply wanted to replicate the houses in their homeland, which occupied such narrow plots. The influences of the Malay house can be seen in the form of the external main front door which is only half solid, a pintu pagar (fence door) allowing light and air through when the internal main front doors were open.24 The European influences appear in the form of decorative elements such as the Palladian and Baroque details on the pediments and pillars. Malaysia became a British colony in the early nineteenth century.25 The opening of tin mines caused the growth of small towns. People from China came to work in the mines, and they brought with them their traditional building designs. The architectural influences of the Chinese were materialised in the form of the two-storey shophouse or the townhouse.
The Chinese mine workers who formed a significant part of the new mining towns, initially lived and worked in atap (thatched leaves) shophouses26, constructed with elements derived from the Malay vernacular typologies. In Kuala Lumpur, one of the early mining towns, these atap shophouses were replaced with two-storey brick shophouses due to a major fire in 1881. The brick buildings with tiled roofs were seen as a lesser form of a fire hazard.
Ismail, WHW 2005, Houses In Malaysia – Fusion of the East and the West, Penerbit Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Johor, pp.24. 24 Fee, CV 1998, The Encyclopedia of Malaysia, Vol. 5: Architecture, Archipelago Press, Singapore, pp.92. 25 Malaysia, formerly known as Malaya, gained her independence from the British in 1957. Population and Housing Census 2000, retrieved 1 March 2008, <http://www.statistics.gov.my/english/census/pressdemo.htm> 26 “Atap shophouses were the first physical mark of the Chinese n all major settlements of Malaya.” Kohl, DG 1984, Chinese architecture in the Straits Settlements and western Malaya : temples, kongsis, and houses, Heinemann Asia, Kuala Lumpur, pp.179.
Figure 2.7 The early settlements in Kuala Lumpur-1884.
Source : Fee, CV 1998, The Encyclopedia of Malaysia, Vol. 5: Architecture, Archipelago Press, Singapore, pp.75.
The shophouse was a common type of dwelling in Southern China, and similarities to the Malaysian shophouse can be drawn from the elongated plans, ornamentation and external facades.27 The Malaysian shophouse also featured internal courtyards, which were a typical feature of the homes in Southern China.
The British may have influenced certain elements based on the English terraced houses which were, at that point in time, a common form of housing in England. The lower levels of these Malaysian shophouses were used for business, and the upper levels served as residences. They had an average width of 6 meters and a depth of 30 meters. Like their Malaccan townhouse counterparts, the Chinese shophouses in Malaysia featured European decorative elements on their facades.
Ismail, WHW 2005, Houses In Malaysia – Fusion of the East and the West, Penerbit Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Johor, pp.21-23.
Figure 2.8 An axonometric illustration of a shophouse.
Source : Vlatseas, S 1990, A History of Malaysian Architecture, Longman, Singapore, pp.92.
Figure 2.9 English terraced houses in Reading- c.1900.
Source : Muthesius, S 1982, The English Terraced House, Yale University Press, London, pp.191.
Figure 2.10 Early Chinese shophouses (L) & the earliest form of the terraced house (R)
Source : Ahmad, AG, Southern Chinese Architecture, retrieved 6 February 2008, <http://www.hbp.usm.my/conservation/chinese__architecture.htm>
In the early twentieth century, most urban dwellers occupied shophouses which became a common feature in all the new towns. The Malays and indigenous groups outside the towns, continued to live in their own style of housing. Tihough these masonry shophouses did not tread lightly on the ground like the vernacular architecture did, they had architectural design elements which allowed the occupants to live comfortably with the tropical climate.
Some of the key features were the jack roofs, air wells and courtyards which kept the interiors well ventilated. The sheltered veranda also known as the ‘five foot way’ in front of the main entrances which allowed for pedestrians to access the shops without being affected by the elements of nature, such as the harsh direct sunlight or rain.
According to historian Kohl, the shophouses made possible the combination of high population density and intensity of economic activity in the Chinatown areas of Malaysian towns28. During the latter half of the twentieth century, as the cities expanded, and levels of rural-urban migration increased, the shophouse eventually became used purely for businesses and urban housing
Kohl, DG 1984, Chinese architecture in the Straits Settlements and western Malaya : temples, kongsis, and houses, Heinemann Asia, Kuala Lumpur, pp.172.
took on the form of the single or double storey terraced house, also known as the row house or link house.
Terraced Housing : 20th – 21st Century Though Malaysia’s terraced house plans have been drawn and re-drawn over the years, the lot size has remained the same averaging 20’x65’ (6 meters x 19.5 meters) to 22’x70’ (6.6 meters x 21 meters). The variations of these lot sizes range from anything between 16’x50’ (4.8 meters x 15 meters) for housing at the lower end of the market to 24’x100’ (7.2 meters x 30 meters) for more residences at the upper end of the market.29 The typical single storey terrace contains 3 rooms and 2 bathrooms, and the typical double storey terrace contains 5 rooms and 3 bathrooms. This terraced house typology, found in the major cities and towns across the country, appears to have evolved from the early shophouse. Key elements relating to thermal comfort and the relationship of the spaces with the surrounding natural environment have not been carried through. They include the amount of natural light that fills the interior spaces and adequate cross ventilation. These elements which are lacking in the current terraced house typology affect the quality of the occupants’ life. Figure 2.11, representing a generic terraced house, illustrates the exclusion of a courtyard; an architectural design element present in the early shophouse and Malaccan townhouse.
The ever increasing number of housing developments in and around major cities in Peninsular Malaysia have been fuelled by rural-urban migration. The obvious result of this rural-urban migration is an increasing urban population, which consists mainly of a burgeoning middle class and the industrial working class with a strong purchasing power.30 Twenty-first century terraced housing developments in major towns and cities cater to a varying range of socioeconomic backgrounds, leaning more towards the middle to high-end
Davis, MP, Ghazali, M & Nordin, NA 2006, Thermal Comfort Honeycomb Housing, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, pp.99. 30 Ibid, p.98.
Figure 2.11 A generic terraced housing development with 24’x80’ homes in Selangor scheduled for completion in June 2009.
Source : SPK Homes brochure – Cahaya SPK Superlink @ Precinct 2A.
sector. Low cost housing developments are usually sidelined by housing developers because of the relatively low profits to be gained.
In dealing with the rapid pace of development over the last few decades, the task of drafting up a more relevant set of by-laws has been ignored. On one hand the existing by-laws have not encouraged innovation in regards to the layout and architectural design of the terraced house typology. On the other hand, not keeping up with the technologies affecting the Malaysian population’s current life style has prevented the by-laws from encouraging the production of environmentally sustainable buildings.
The use of the existing building by-laws has resulted in housing developments with homes based on the adaptations of the housing codes and regulation introduced by the British. One example would be the 6 meter wide back lane which is still a standard requirement for nearly all local housing authorities.31This lane was introduced by the Sanitary Board in the late nineteenth century as the ‘sanitary lane’ to allow for the collection of night soil.32
With today’s modern sanitation, the purpose of the back lane fails to be justified.33 The current housing developments with the back lanes, have them assigned for garbage collection. In a society where all windows and doors on the external facades of homes are fitted with security grills, to prevent theft, the back lane is seen by some of the general population as a negative feature in terms of security. A possible approach to this situation could involve increasing the dimensions of the rear building setback and removing the lane, thus creating a larger backyard for the houses.
Hassan, AS, Towards Sustainable Housing Construction in Southeast Asia, retrieved 6 September 2007, <http://www.sustainablesettlement.co.za/docs/a21_hassan.pdf> 32 Fee, CV 1998, The Encyclopedia of Malaysia, Vol. 5: Architecture, Archipelago Press, Singapore, pp.74. 33 Hassan, AS, Towards Sustainable Housing Construction in Southeast Asia, retrieved 6 September 2007, <http://www.sustainablesettlement.co.za/docs/a21_hassan.pdf>
The following section presents an example of how the terrace house has evolved from its initial form to its present state. Bangsar is a residential suburb located about four kilometers southwest of Kuala Lumpur’s city centre. Terraced houses mushroomed in this suburb during the 1970’s. Internal courtyards were a feature of the houses when they were built. There are just a fraction of the houses at present, which have maintained the internal courtyard or air well (smaller courtyards) as a source of fresh air and natural light. This analysis is based on an observation of the ratio of renovated houses versus the original houses in this suburb as shown in Figure 2.13.
Figure 2.12 Rows of terraced housing dominate the residential scene in Bangsar.
Source : S.Jayapalasingam’s photograph -2007.
The 1984 Uniform Building By-laws state that any alterations to existing open spaces would only be allowed, if the local authority under its own discretion
issued a permit on the condition that the free movement of air was not hindered as a result of this alteration.34 Looking at the houses in Bangsar, many courtyards have been closed. This allowed the occupants to gain more enclosed internal floor area more now that it was sheltered from the rain. The high volumes of the courtyards were generally maintained, and operable clerestory windows were fitted to these altered spaces. Appendix 6 contains guidelines provided by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall for extensions allowed for the typical terraced house.
Figure 2.13 General modifications to the terraced house.
Source : S.Jayapalasingam’s photograph -2007.
In the National Property Information Centre’s (NAPIC) 2007 Residential Property Stock Report35, produced quarterly, the residential units available in Malaysia have been listed as the following types :single storey terraced house, double/triple storey terraced house, single storey semi-detached house, double/triple storey semi-detached house, detached house, town house, cluster, low cost house, low cost flat, flat, serviced apartment and condominium or apartment.
Figure 2.14 clearly illustrates that the terraced house is the dominant form of housing in Malaysia. The terraced house typology is most common in the
Legal Research Board 2000, Uniform Building By-Laws 1984 (as at 20th November 2000), International Law Book Services, Kuala Lumpur, pp.14-15. 35 NAPIC is a Malaysian government body attached to the Valuation and Property Services Department.
form of a single storey or double storey unit. Singapore, a neighbouring island nation with the same tropical climate, does not have the terraced house as its dominant form of housing due to the lack of land area for such residential developments in relation to the size of the country’s population.
1,600,000 1,400,000 1,200,000 1,000,000 800,000 600,000 400,000 200,000 0
Low Cost House
Figure 2.14 Summary of Supply of Residential Units by Type in Malaysia – Existing Stock.
Source : Chart data obtained from: Residential Property Stock Report – Second Quarter 2007, published by NAPIC.
The Developer’s Role Associate Professor Abdul Rashid Abdul Aziz and Ho Shiew Yi from the Universiti Sains Malaysia’s School of Housing, Building and Planning, conducted a research project to find out what it takes to succeed in the housing development sector.36 This sector is a highly competitive one, in which terraced housing plays a significant role. The results showed that prime location, cash flow and understanding the market potentials were among the highly regarded factors in the housing development sector.37
Aziz, ARA & Ho, SY 2007(7 April), ‘Built to Compete’, Property-New StraitsTimes, pp.6-7. Ibid.
Low Cost Flat
On the other hand, factors such as the skill of the developers’ employees, which would include design skills, and project innovation were the least highly regarded. The low level where the project innovation factor sits is probably a major reason why the new terraced housing developments available today are not much different from earlier versions. The lot sizes and building facades are fairly similar to early terraced houses, but there is a significant loss in regards to the design elements that contribute towards achieving acceptable levels of indoor thermal comfort without depending on active cooling systems.
Innovative design is embraced by developers especially when it will not affect sales profits negatively. While a handful of developers strive to be innovative, many developers are content with just marketing conventional styles of housing which they think suits the needs of the public.38 With factors such as a rising population, affluence and rural-urban migration, the demand for housing in the country’s towns and cities will continue to be strong, and conventional style houses will still sell, so long as the location is acceptable.39
The developers who see no need to be innovative and creative with their product, are generally those who have the location of their developments to use as the key selling point. When it comes to innovation, all it takes is for one developer to be successful with a new design, and imitators will immediately emerge to compete. This situation places the innovative developers in the position of a trend-setter.40
In his book ‘Housing Crisis’, Mohd.Tajuddin Mohd. Rasdi conveys that the concept of ‘worker housing’ which came about due to the industrial revolution in the western world, which appeared in the form of terraced housing has not been successfully translated to suit the present day environment in Malaysia.41Trend-setting developers should be aware of their significance in
Aziz, ARA & Ho, SY 2007(7 April), ‘Built to Compete’, Property-New StraitsTimes, pp.6-7. Ibid. 40 Ibid. 41 Rasdi, MTM 2007, Housing Crisis – Back to a Humanistic Agenda, Penerbit Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Johor, pp.7-8.
regards to providing the general public with the affordable versions of their ‘dream home’.42 Typically, members of the general public cannot afford to hire architects to provide them with homes that are designed to accommodate their individual life styles.
Conclusion Though followed closely by condominiums, as shown in Figure 2.15, based on the figures of the existing residential stock in Malaysia, as per Figure 2.14, the terraced house typology will continue to dominate the residential scene for years to come.
Figure 2.15 Summary of Supply of Residential Units by Type in Malaysia – Scheduled for Completion.
Source : Chart data obtained from: Residential Property Stock Report – Second Quarter 2007, published by NAPIC.
The objective of this thesis is to examine the terraced house typology and ways in which it can move towards a greener form as it continues to be
Wong, A 2007(23 June), ‘Giving life to style’, Property-New StraitsTimes, pp.2.
Low Cost House
Low Cost Flat
0 SemiDetached Detached Terraced
developed and mass produced. A greener approach is most crucial when it comes to the methods of land development and construction, as a significant amount of damage to the environment happens at this stage.
In the words of architect Ernesto Rogers, “To consider the environment means to consider history.”43 There are lessons which can be learnt from earlier forms of vernacular housing which were built by the occupants or members of the community to suit their socioeconomic, cultural and environmental requirements. Key elements involving the integration of natural light and ventilation into the spatial configuration of the house layouts are what future housing developments should draw from the early shophouses, terraced houses and other traditional vernacular dwellings.
Regionalism – Architectural Identity
Regionalism is a term used to categorize the balance of architectural identity between globalization and creating a local identity.44 The exposure to various architectural cultures over the years has resulted with Malaysia’s architecture comprising eclectic styles. Brazilian architect Severiano Porto practices in the tropical climate with these underlying key factors: to understand and utilize the local climate and strengths of the local construction industry in terms of workmanship and building materials, resulting in buildings which could not suit its locality any better. In term of design approach, Porto argues:
“The search for quality, good design, beauty, technical solutions, is something we have to assume as an important task of our time. And for this you only need coherence: coherence with possible technology, with available materials, with the workmanship of our people. More than searching in the examples of great masterpieces, of the great ideas, sometimes we should
Lefaivre, L & Tzonis, A 2001, ‘The Supression and Rethinking of Regionalism and Tropicalism After 1945’, in Tzonis, A, Lefaivre, L & Stagno, B (ed), Tropical Architecture – Critical Regionalism in the Age of Globalization, Wiley-Academy, Great Britain, pp.30. 44 Lefaivre, L & Tzonis, A 2003, Critical Regionalism – Architecture & Identity in a Globalized World, Prestel, Munich, pp.10.
look back to popular houses, to the opinion of the people who live in them, to the voice of the community.”45
One if the issues this study reveals is that today’s Malaysian “community” has adapted their lifestyle to accommodate dwellings which fail to work in harmony with the surrounding natural climate, in comparison with their predecessors.
When it comes to the issue of defining or describing a cultural identity, in his article on Regional Transformations, Chris Abel suggests that “things become more realistic and manageable if it is allowed that the sought-for continuities are not the all-or-nothing relations of identity, but more tolerant connections of some sort between different states of existence, most usefully described in terms of relations of analogy.”46 He explains this further in a Malaysian context by stating that as opposed to a romantic ideal of pure culture, looking at how the archetypal mosque, the Malay house and the colonial villa originate in diverse precedents and come to function in their own respective roles as models of architectural form, is more relevant to understanding the nature of architectural continuities.47
As a way of summary, Abel aptly concludes that “…the true gist of regional architecture lies in a creative process of cultural cross-fertilization and localization of imported models…”48 On a similar note, Lefaivre and Tzonis in their paper on Tropical Critical Regionalism conclude a discussion on the environmentally successful approach by colonialists in Costa Rica stating that “instead of trying to invent a new architecture appropriate to a region from scratch, one should rely rather on syncretic recombination of solutions accumulated over time.”49
Porto, S 2001, ‘Architecture and National Identity’, in Tzonis, A, Lefaivre, L & Stagno, B (ed), Tropical Architecture – Critical Regionalism in the Age of Globalization, Wiley-Academy, Great Britain, pp.108. 46 Abel, C 2000, Architecture & Identity, 2nd edn, Architectural Press, Oxford, pp.169. 47 Ibid. 48 Ibid. 49 Lefaivre, L & Tzonis, A 2001, ‘Tropical Critical Regionalism: Introductory Comments’, in Tzonis, A, Lefaivre, L & Stagno, B (ed), Tropical Architecture – Critical Regionalism in the Age of Globalization, Wiley-Academy, Great Britain, pp.11.
The cultural cross-fertilization and the interwoven solutions mentioned above place such architecture under the ‘hybrid’ label. This issue of hybrid architecture is addressed by William Lim and Tan Hock Beng as a part of one of their strategies aimed at avoiding the “homogenizing effect of globalization and to preserve the richness of local traditions.”50 The strategy labeled ‘Reinventing Tradition’ entails the search for new paradigms via hybridization, in the same manner the British colonials applied in Singapore and Malaysia: drawing lessons from the Malay house into their colonial bungalows, in order to have buildings that work with the local climate.51
Figure 2.16 A colonial bungalow: the Agnes Keith house, Sandakan, Sabah.
Source : S.Jayapalasingam’s photograph -2008.
Though situated in a tropical region, not all of Malaysia’s buildings fall under the category of Tropical Architecture. Figure 2.17, a showunit comprising two end lots of a terraced housing development, illustrates this point. The Amanda Superlink home is one of the housing types offered by developer Lebar Daun in their D’Kayangan township. This 26’ x 80’ home is one version of the terraced house typology currently filling up housing developments in Malaysia.
Bay JH, P 2001, ‘Three Tropical Design Paradigms’, in Tzonis, A, Lefaivre, L & Stagno, B (ed), Tropical Architecture – Critical Regionalism in the Age of Globalization, Wiley-Academy, Great Britain, pp.247. 51 Ibid.
Figure 2.17 The Amanda Superlink Home – D’Kayangan Township.
Source : D’Kayangan, Kumpulan Lebar Daun, retrieved 1 August 2008, <http://www.lebardaun.com.my>
Figure 2.18 The Amanda Superlink Home Floor Plan.
Source : D’Kayangan, Kumpulan Lebar Daun, retrieved 1 August 2008, <http://www.lebardaun.com.my>
The house, built with standard construction methods and materials comprising a reinforced concrete frame, brick and plaster walls topped with a
clay-tiled roof, is being marketed by the developers with the following description: “D'Kayangan, a low-density township with its unique and refreshing difference giving homes a fusion of both European and Asian elements that reflects distinct exquisiteness. With the touch of Andalusian architectural design surrounded by 10 acres of vast landscape, our tropical Andalusian township will be the ideal place to call home.”52 The term ‘tropical Andalusian township’ has to be questioned, as there appears to be nothing tropical about the house. The surrounding landscape is presumably what the word tropical would be referring to.
In his paper, ‘Three Tropical Design Paradigms’, after briefly discussing a range of viewpoints on tropical architecture by various writers, Bay Joo Hwa identifies three key aspects of tropical architecture: “(i) Regional expression – as a result of responding to needs related to the tropical climate. (ii) Performance – in providing climatic comfort and convenience for social and cultural requirements. (iii) Materials and means of building – appropriate to the tropical zone.”53
Environmental sustainability would be assured if those key aspects are used as a guideline for all built environments in the tropics. At present, a significant amount of Malaysia’s urban built environment consists of buildings which provide its occupants with acceptable levels of thermal comfort in isolation from the surrounding climate with the aid of active cooling systems.
D’Kayangan, Kumpulan Lebar Daun, retrieved 1 August 2008, <http://www.lebardaun.com.my> Bay JH, P 2001, ‘Three Tropical Design Paradigms’, in Tzonis, A, Lefaivre, L & Stagno, B (ed), Tropical Architecture – Critical Regionalism in the Age of Globalization, Wiley-Academy, Great Britain, pp.230.
Words such as ‘green’ and ‘sustainability’ are loosely applied in relation to the current environmental concerns. These words have been given various definitions by various authors in not only the context of the built environment, but also the social, political and economic context.54 In an attempt to define what is ‘green’, in his book titled A New Eco-Architecture, Colin Porteous claims that with such generic terminology, the variety of definitions available is a problem whereby the definition becomes illusive.55
In the context of the built environment, Porteous, defines the scope of ‘green’, stating that at one end issues include fundamental planning strategies, policies and dilemmas such as ‘greenfield’ versus ‘brownfield’ development, suburban versus urban housing, mixed versus zoned development, and on the architectural end, it includes the size and shape of buildings, their usefulness, their materiality, their embodied and recurring energy loads and output of pollution, their longevity and vulnerability to disrepair; their recyclability and reusability, and their contribution or disruption to microclimate and biodiversity.56
In her editorial for Architectural Design’s issue on Green Architecture, Helen Castle highlights the ambiguity involved with defining ‘green’: “As sustainability enters the mainstream, becoming the accepted goal if not always practice of governments and architects alike, it seems to be slipping through our fingers. No longer an alternative route out in the cold, green architecture is, as a result, ever more elusive and difficult to define. With increasing numbers claiming it for themselves, it is no longer possible to describe it in counterpoint – purely in terms of what it clearly is not. It seems
Porteous, C 2003, The New Eco-Architecture, Spon Press, London. Ibid, pp.47. 56 Ibid, pp.48.
to be everything for everyone who wants it – the Queen and President of the RIBA included.”57
Porteous and Castle both agree upon the illusiveness of defining ‘green’. Throughout this thesis, the portrayal of ‘green’ will be based upon Daniel Williams’s definitions from his book titled Sustainable Design.
Williams claims that green design is an element of sustainable design, whereby green buildings and communities that integrate the local climate and building resources, create healthy interior spaces with natural light, and complete recycling and reuse of materials are critical to the development of a sustainable future.58 Williams goes on to clearly explain how sustainable design differs from green design: “Sustainable design differs from green design in that it is additive and inclusive – it includes continuing, surviving, thriving, and adapting. Green design incorporates ecologically sensitive materials and creates healthy buildings and processes that do not negatively affect the environment before, during or after manufacture, construction, and deconstruction. Green design incorporates efficient mechanical systems and high-performance technologies but still functions primarily through the use of fossil fuels. Sustainable design integrates the principles of green design and goes further to become a passive and active structure that is designed to maximise the use of sites’ natural renewable resources. When buildings are conceived as organisms instead of objects, they become part of the ecological neighbourhood, and since they operate off existing site and regional renewable energies, they are sustainable.”59
To conclude defining sustainable and green design, Williams states that there are varying degrees of green design, but sustainable design is an absolute, whereby the building can function “unplugged”.60 Designers
Castle H 2001(July), ‘Editorial’, Architectural Design : Green Architecture, Vol.71, John Wiley & Sons, United Kingdom, pp.5. 58 Williams, D 2007, Sustainable Design: ecology, architecture & planning, John Wiley & Sons, USA, pp.16. 59 Ibid. 60 Ibid, pp.17.
choosing to take on the “unplugged” challenge will create sustainable buildings.
Sustainability comes from design. Design is a powerful process which can satisfy a need as well as add value to its creations when correctly infused with knowledge on sustainable systems.61 Such creations empower design with the potential to change how buildings, communities and societies function.62 The awareness of this potential will enable designers of the built environment to successfully create buildings and environments which exist and function in synchronicity with its natural surroundings.
The rating and measurement systems related to sustainability existing at present, measure energy efficiency instead of sustainability, and typically that measurement of efficiency is in the use of non-renewable energy.63 Efficient use of non-renewable energy alone, is not a path to sustainability, as when the proverbial plug mentioned above is pulled due to a natural disaster, a sustainable design has to be able to function and comfortably accommodate its occupants.64
Williams claims that if the imperative is to be sustainable, the design program for buildings and communities is as simple as ensuring that the projects meet the following criteria: (i) “Be developed within existing urban boundaries and within walking distance to transit options. (ii) (iii) (iv) New projects would preferably be built on a cleaned-up brownfield. Use green energy and be “unplugged” from nonrenewables. Be fully useful for intended function in a natural disaster, a blackout, or a drought. (v) Be made of materials that have a long and useful life – longer than its growth cycle – and be anchored for deconstruction (every design should be a store-house of materials for another project).
Williams, D 2007, Sustainable Design: ecology, architecture & planning, John Wiley & Sons, USA, pp.15. Ibid, pp.18. 63 Ibid. 64 Ibid.
Use no more water than what falls on the site. Connect impacts and wastes of the building to useful cycles on the site and in the environment around it. Be part of a cycle. Be compelling, rewarding and desirable.” 65
On a broader note, Williams discusses sustainable design at the regional scale which begins with gaining a working knowledge of the ecological system at that larger scale.66 Urban and regional planning practices that incorporate ecological thinking form the foundation of community, economic and environmental sustainability, therefore it is crucial to pay attention to sustainable design at the regional level.67
Another point brought about by Williams on the statement above is that designing future development patterns on a regional scale creates a win-win situation for the business world, as the developer would no longer have to make assumptions on whether a project site is buildable or whether the environmental impacts are significant enough to cause delays or, worse, litigation.68 Such regional planning would delineate buildable locations, water recharge areas, best transit locations, agricultural preservation zones, open space, conservation zones, soil reclamation zones, and livable, pedestrianfriendly communities, taking into account the best mixes to simultaneously improve the economy, the communities, and the environment.69
A paper titled ‘Taking Cues From the Past : Increasing the Livability of Terrace Housing in Malaysia Through the Raised Floor Innovation’ by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Architectural Research Group acknowledges the terrace house as the key form of housing for the Malaysian general population, and highlights the fact that little has changed in terms of its design innovation for the last 25 years.70
Williams, D 2007, Sustainable Design: ecology, architecture & planning, John Wiley & Sons, USA, pp.20. Ibid, pp.23. 67 Ibid. 68 Ibid, pp.26-27. 69 Ibid. 70 UKM Architectural Research Group, Taking Cues From the Past: Increasing the Livability of Terrace Housing in Malaysia through the Raised Floor Innovation, retrieved 8 July 2008,
Labeling the present mass housing condition as one with an unacceptable living culture, the group claims that designs of the terraced housing currently being produced are devoid of design principles and generally aesthetically offensive, noting significant negative issues such as the inflexibility of interior and exterior spaces, inappropriate renovations, poor levels of ventilation, lighting and thermal comfort.71 The group has associated the conditions of the present typical housing developments which lack a connection with orientation and climate, with the profit-oriented planning methods which result in grid-iron layouts that maximise land use.72
The government plays a significant role in ensuring the application of sustainable planning methods that would prevent such conditions. Tackling the issue of sustainable design at the regional scale would presumably encourage the creation of housing and other developments which work better with the environment.
The Malaysian Government’s Involvement
The Ninth Malaysia Plan (NMP) which covers 2006 to 2010, is the first of three 5 year blueprints for the National Mission spanning 2006 to 2020.73 Malaysia is aiming to attain the status of a developed nation by the year 2020 with the implementation and delivery of the National Mission. One of the steps taken to aid in achieving this goal was the introduction of Islam Hadhari74 in 2004 as a comprehensive and universal development framework
<http://www.fab.utm.my/download/ConferenceSemiar/ICCI2006S5PP13.pdf> 71 UKM Architectural Research Group, Taking Cues From the Past: Increasing the Livability of Terrace Housing in Malaysia through the Raised Floor Innovation, retrieved 8 July 2008, <http://www.fab.utm.my/download/ConferenceSemiar/ICCI2006S5PP13.pdf> 72 Ibid. 73 Ninth Malaysia Plan, The Ninth Malaysia Plan 2006-2010, The National Mission, pp.19, retrieved 25 July 2007, <http://www.epu.jpm.my/rm9/html/english.htm> 74 The Islam Hadhari framework emphasises development, consistent with the tenets of Islam with focus on enhancing the quality of life through the mastery of knowledge and the development of the individual and the nation; the implementation of a dynamic economic, trading and financial system; and the promotion of integrated and balanced development that creates knowledgeable and pious people who hold to noble values and are honest, trustworthy, and are prepared to take on global challenges. Islam Hadhari is an effort to bring the people back to basics and back to the fundamentals, as prescribed in the Quran and the Hadith that form the foundation of Islamic civilisation.
for the nation, which outlined 10 principles75 to empower the people to face global challenges, while ensuring that its approach and implementation are acceptable to all groups in the country.76 Safeguarding of the environment is listed as one of these 10 principles.77
Improving the standard and sustainability of the quality of life is one of the National Mission’s key thrusts.78 It is stated that the quality of life of the population, which is intrinsically linked to fulfilling basic needs as well as maintaining peace, security and harmony, will not be sustainable without a concerted effort to manage resources more wisely, especially in an environment of rising energy prices.79 In relation to addressing this issue, the actions highlighted are as follows : (i) “ensuring better protection of the environment and more efficient usage of natural resources (ii) enhancing energy sufficiency and efficiency, including diversifying sources of energy (iii) (iv) increasing the efficiency of water services delivery providing better public transportation to relieve congestion and reduce fuel usage (v) improving access to and quality of healthcare and affordable housing (vi) (vii) ensuring public safety and security enhancing the development and promotion of Malaysian culture, arts and heritage.” 80
The 10 principles are: 01-Faith in and piety towards Allah, 02-A just and trustworthy government, 03-Free and liberated people, 04-A rigorous pursuit and mastery of knowledge, 05-Balanced and comprehensive economic development, 06-A good quality of life for the people, 07-Protection of the rights of minority groups and women, 08Cultural and moral integrity, 09-Safeguarding of the environment & 10-Strong defence capabilities. 76 Ninth Malaysia Plan, The Ninth Malaysia Plan 2006-2010, The National Mission, pp.9, retrieved 25 July 2007, <http://www.epu.jpm.my/rm9/html/english.htm> 77 Ibid. 78 Ninth Malaysia Plan, The Ninth Malaysia Plan 2006-2010, The National Mission, pp.17, retrieved 25 July 2007, <http://www.epu.jpm.my/rm9/html/english.htm> In order to obtain the highest level of performance and the maximum impact from Malaysia’s national development efforts, the National Mission identifies 5 key thrusts : 01- To move the economy up the value chain, 02-To raise the capacity for knowledge and innovation and nurture ‘first class mentality’, 03-To address persistent socio-economic inequalities constructively and productively, 04-To improve the standard and sustainability of the quality of life & 05To strengthen the institutional and implementation capacity. 79 Ninth Malaysia Plan, The Ninth Malaysia Plan 2006-2010, The National Mission, pp.17, retrieved 25 July 2007, <http://www.epu.jpm.my/rm9/html/english.htm> 80 Ninth Malaysia Plan, The Ninth Malaysia Plan 2006-2010, The National Mission, pp.17-18, retrieved 25 July 2007, <http://www.epu.jpm.my/rm9/html/english.htm>
The section in the NMP which briefly describes progress from 2001 to 2005, there is mention of a Local Agenda 21 that was launched in 2000.81 This program which focused on enhancing understanding and cooperation between the community, local authorities and the private sector was implemented in 47 local authorities, out of which 16 launched their comprehensive plan of action pertaining to sustainable development covering social, economic and environmental aspects.82
The subsequent section which outlines prospects from 2006 to 2010, lists the following strategic thrusts of housing development and urban services: (i) “providing adequate, affordable and quality houses, particularly to meet the needs of the low-income group, with greater emphasis on appropriate locations and conducive living environment (ii) reviewing laws and regulations to ensure proper development of the housing sector (iii) encouraging private sector participation in the construction of lowand low-medium-cost houses (iv) (v) (vi) improving the efficiency and capability of local authorities ensuring provision of quality urban services encouraging greater community participation in urban development.” 83
The Kuala Lumpur City Hall(KLCH) released the Draft KL City Plan 2020 in June 2008. The following points are listed in the plan outlining directions to be taken to ensure a greener future: (i) “Draft KL City Plan 2020 will adopt greener standards, where environmental sustainability will be a priority. (ii) The Plan calls for optimum growth where land use development integrates and co-exists with environment.
Ninth Malaysia Plan, The Ninth Malaysia Plan 2006-2010, Chapter 21 pp.443, retrieved 25 July 2007, <http://www.epu.jpm.my/rm9/html/english.htm> 82 Ibid. 83 Ninth Malaysia Plan, The Ninth Malaysia Plan 2006-2010, Chapter 21 pp.444, retrieved 25 July 2007, <http://www.epu.jpm.my/rm9/html/english.htm>
Water resource management is promoted in the city, where water recycling and rainwater harvesting will be encouraged.
Energy efficient city will be one key feature of this Plan, Kuala Lumpur will promote alternative use of energy and renewable energy in the City.
Encourage reduction in green house gas emission by planning for public transportation.
Reduce household waste generation and encourage reuse and recycling of waste materials.” 84
From the perspective of a sustainable housing scene, it is encouraging to see that the Draft KL City Plan 2020 highlights the commitment of the KLCH to the policy of encouraging responsible parties in the housing sector to develop good quality housing and living environments under the Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan.85On the issue of Housing Technology and Research and Development, the NMP states that efforts will be made to encourage the use of alternative construction materials and technology under the Industrialised Building System (IBS) and designs based on the modular coordination concept in housing construction, as the use of this technology will result in less labour, increased productivity and enhanced quality of houses while creating a safer and cleaner working environment.86
The implementation of IBS consists of strategies such as having local authorities enforce the use of modular coordination concepts in the construction of affordable homes and government building projects via the Uniform Building By-laws.87 Besides providing incentives for users of standard plans which are designed based on modular coordination and standard building components, the government will focus on research and development related to sustainable building services and cleaner technology in the construction industry based on the “3R” concept (reduce, reuse and
Draft KL City Plan 2020, Kuala Lumpur City Hall, 2008, p.23. Ibid p.91. 86 Ninth Malaysia Plan, The Ninth Malaysia Plan 2006-2010, retrieved 25 July 2007, <http://www.epu.jpm.my/rm9/html/english.htm> 87 Ibid.
recycle), encouraging wastewater recycling and energy efficiency.88The plans, strategies and policies laid out above allow for one to conclude that the Malaysian government is heading in the right direction towards creating an environmentally sustainable future in the housing development sector.
The scope of literature discussed in the above sections of this chapter, focus the topic of inquiry. This thesis hypothesises that the terraced housing presently being built to accommodate Malaysia’s general population does not contain environmentally sustainable elements. Consequently, for housing developers to produce housing developments for Malaysia’s general population which incorporate environmentally sustainable elements, there is a need to establish if the lack of such elements is perceived as a problem by members of the general population, building and construction industry professionals, housing developers and the government. If this lack of environmentally sustainable elements is perceived as a problem, action plans and strategies can be developed to address it.
The hypothesis was developed from identifying gaps of knowledge which comprise: (i) How can Malaysia’s terraced housing developments evolve to become a typology that incorporates environmentally sustainable design? (ii) How can the process of greening the terraced housing developments be a responsibility shared by members of the general population, building and construction industry professionals, housing developers and the government?
Ninth Malaysia Plan, The Ninth Malaysia Plan 2006-2010, retrieved 25 July 2007, <http://www.epu.jpm.my/rm9/html/english.htm>
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