ACCEPTANCE OF HONEYCOMB HOUSING AMONGST HOUSING DEVELOPERS IN JOHOR BAHRU (EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

)

TNAY THENG HUNG

A thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirement for the award of the degree of Town and Regional Planning

Faculty of Built Environment Universiti Teknologi Malaysia

NOVEMBER, 2006

1 CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION

1.1

Introduction Dwellings can be arranged on individual plots of land as detached units, attached

or linked to each other. Whether detached or linked or even attached, they line up along streets to form row housing. Honeycomb housing is a newly introduced housing concept in Malaysia. However, the implementation of any new concept is always very much dependent on the choice and preference of house buyers and housing developers. Thus, in this study, the writer will gauge the views and consequently, the acceptance amongst housing developers towards the concept of Honeycomb housing concept.

1.2

Problem Statement Linear layout with gridiron, cul-de-sac or rectilinear design is believed could

achieve higher densities, and is therefore useful in optimizing space making and is cost effective. However, these types of layout seem to be less effective in crime prevention and community building. The Honeycomb housing concept on the other hand is an alternative to linear type of layout and is envisaged to provide better and conducive living environment.

A comparative study between Honeycomb housing and terrace housing done by the founder of Honeycomb housing, Ar. Mazlin Ghazali together with his professional team in 2005 found that Honeycomb housing can achieve slightly higher densities than terrace housing (4 percent) on the same plot of land (48.68 acres). Other than that, a consumer preference study carried out by Universiti Putra Malaysia (2005) found that 66 percent of total respondents prefer Honeycomb housing than terrace housing. This indicates that Honeycomb housing has the potential of being accepted in the housing market. Though studies have shown that Honeycomb housing can be beneficial, the development of the concept is still dependent on the developers to interpret it on the ground. This study is carried out in order to elicit views from developers on the acceptance of Honeycomb housing, and thus the feasibility of the new concept. Table 1.1 briefly explains the goal, objectives and scope of study, study area, research question and importance of study.

2 Table 1.1: Goal and objective of study, scope of study, research question, study area and importance of study.
Goal Objectives
To elicit views of housing developers and finally ascertain the feasibility of the ‘Honeycomb’ housing concept amongst housing developers

Scope of Study

Research Questions

Study Area Importance of Study

i)To introduce Honeycomb housing to private housing developers. ii)To compare the difference of landuse efficiency, design and social between Honeycomb housing and terrace housing. iii)To elicit views and acceptance of Honeycomb housing amongst private developers. • Opinions and comments from housing developers on Honeycomb housing • The acceptance of the concept amongst housing developers in Johor Bahru, thus the feasibility of the concept 1. Do the private housig developers know about Honeycomb housing? 2. Do the private housing developers think that Honeycomb housing is better than terrace housing? • If they do, what are the aspects those are better? • If not, then what are the aspects those are worse? 3. If there is an opportunity, would the private developers choose to develop Honeycomb housing? • If yes, why? • If no, what are the reasons? • If yes, what type of development would the developers choose to carry out? (fully Honeycomb or mixed, high cost, medium cost or low cost) 4. Is there any relationship between the feasibility of the concept and the opinion whether this new concept is better than terrace housing? 5. Is there any relationship between the feasibility of Honeycomb housing and type of preferred development (fully Honeycomb, fully terrace or mixed)? 6. Is the acceptance of the concept related to the opinion whether this new concept is better than terrace housing? 7. How strong is the relationship between the feasibility and the acceptance of Honeycomb housing? 8. How strong is the relationship between the acceptance of Honeycomb housing and the preferred type of layout? • This study will focus on private housing developers in Johor Bahru. i. Housing Developers This study aims to introduce the Honeycomb housing concept to developers, so as to provide them with an alternative other than conventional housing. ii. House Buyers Through this study, house buyers will be better informed of the new concept via the effort done by developers. iii. Local Authority Local Authority will need to look into related technical requirements to facilitate the development of Honeycomb housing. iv. Town Planners, Architects and Engineers The new concept such as Honeycomb housing encourages related professionals in housing development to be more creative and innovative especially in solving current problems.

3
Limitations i) Honeycomb housing is relatively new, therefore, the writer has difficulties in gathering useful information about this concept. ii) This study will focus on the initial perception of housing developers towards Honeycomb housing; the views of other parties such as the house buyers or technical departments are not taken into account. iii) The targeted respondents are developers in Johor Bahru, therefore the findings may not be generalised to other areas.

1.9

Research Approaches The overall study is divided into four main parts as stated below. The flow chart

is shown in Appendix A.

i. Initial understanding of the topic chosen

Goal, objectives scope of study, area of study is determined.

ii. Literature review

The definitions, concept purpose and advantages of Honeycomb housing is discussed.

Comparison between Honeycomb housing and terrace housing in terms of landuse efficiency, physical appearance of houses and the social integration factor

iii. Sampling, data collection and Analysis
• • • •

40 samples were selected through Simple Random Sampling Data collection is done through the method of opinion survey Research hypotheses are created according to research questions Types of analysis include frequency analysis, scoring and weighting, Proportional z-test, Chi-Square Test and Gamma Test

iv. Conclusion and recommendation
• •

Conclusion of study Recommendations for improve of Honeycomb housing concept

4 Chapter 2: THE CONCEPT OF HONEYCOMB HOUSING

2.1

Introduction The chapter will explain the definition of Honeycomb, the concept of

Honeycomb housing, as well as its advantages and purpose of implementation. Comparison between Honeycomb housing and terrace housing on the aspects of landuse efficiency, design and social integration will also be highlighted.

2.2

Definition of Honeycomb Honeycomb is a structure of cells with six sides, made by bees for holding their

honey or their eggs (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary). The word ‘honeycomb’ is also used in man made materials where the appearance or its structure is similar to the honeycomb.

2.3

The Concept of Honeycomb Housing Honeycomb housing uses the tessellation method of planning, where all the

houses are built around small parks with large shade trees in hexagonal cul-de-sacs, which efficiently interlock to form townships similar to a bees’ honeycomb. Each cul-de-sac will create a ‘courtyard neighbourhood’ which may occupy 5 – 16 houses. The courtyard neighbourhoods will then conjoin with each other to form a cul-de-sac community which consists of 42 families. The cul-de-sac communities will then conjoin and form a larger neighbourhood which may consist of 300 unit dwellings. See Appendix B.
Figure 2.1: Cul-de-sac with a garden in the middle.

Honeycomb houses are unique in design where all the houses have wide frontage and small green space at one side of the compound. The houses are joined sideto-side in quaduplex and sextuplex partition, back-to-back in duplex partition. As a result, all of the dwelling units are corner lot as bungalow or semi-detached houses. Other than that, all houses will be facing the communal space in the middle of a courtyard neighbourhood. This will put on a better surveillance of the activities done at the small park. Thus, it will be a safer place for kids, elderly and even disabled people.

5 2.3.1 The Purpose of Introducing Honeycomb Housing The main purpose of the creation of this concept is to provide a better alternative to current practice in housing development. Secondly, the concept of Honeycomb is aimed to create living environment with better quality in terms of safety and social bonding, at the same time maintaining the density as terrace housing. In short, Honeycomb housing aimed at providing a better living environment without sacrificing the density.

2.3.2

The Advantages of the Concept The advantages of Honeycomb housing include aspects of landuse efficiency,

safety, social integration and environmental protection.

2.3.2.1 Landuse Efficiency More efficient use of land can be achieved because:
• • •

Back lane is eliminated Cul-de-sac road instead of through road Less land is needed to build artery road for a hexagonal area compared to squared area

Triangular lot may create larger plinth area than that a squared one

2.3.2.2 Safety Honeycomb housing may provide for better environment in crime prevention and road safety. i) Crime prevention

Achieves zone with ideal hierarchy suggested by Oscar Newman (1972): public zone, semi public zone, semi private zone and private zone

Honeycomb housing identifies clear territory and thus fosters sense of belongings among residents in one courtyard neighbourhood; the sense of togetherness will encourage vigilance and self policing responsibilities of the residents to look for one and other as well as their living area

6 ii) Road Safety

Honeycomb housing with cul-de-sac circulation system will create the effect of traffic calming.

Reduced through traffic; thus create a better living environment which is free from noise.

2.3.2.3 Social Integration

Communal space located in the middle of courtyard neighbourhood encourages interaction among residents.

This can help to foster sense of community where everyone in the neighbourhood will have the opportunity to know each other thus, creating a friendly and happy environment.

2.3.2.4 Environmental Protection Advantages from the aspects of the natural environmental include maintenance of sloping sites and the reducing of heat-island effect.

i)

Maintenance of sloping sites

Honeycomb houses have compact footprints that allow more level changes to be placed between blocks. In this respect, their shape is very much like big detached or bungalow houses, thus can better suit the original contours.

ii)

Reducing effect of heat-island

Big shady trees are planted at the small park in the middle of each courtyard neighbourhood. The shading of external hardscape and evaporation from leaves will help cool the external environment.

2.4 Comparison between Honeycomb and Terrace Housing In order to provide a clearer picture of the advantages of Honeycomb housing, a comparison between the new type of housing with the current practice of terrace housing is made. The aspects which are compared include landuse efficiency, building shape and social integration.

7 2.4.1 Landuse Efficiency On the same plot of land (48.68 acres), Honeycomb housing (23.92 acres) allows for a slightly higher saleable land as compared to terrace housing (23.21 acres). Meanwhile, land allocated for road reserve in Honeycomb housing is 0.86 acres lesser than in terrace housing. On the other hand, percentage of green space in Honeycomb has increased 0.3 percent while the amount of dwelling units increased 7.9 percent. See Table 2.1. Table 2.1: Comparison of landuse efficiency
Saleable Land (acres) Conventional Terrace Housing Honeycomb Housing Increased/ (reduced) Increasing % / (reducing %) 23.21 23.92 0.71 3.1% Road reserve (acres) 14.42 13.56 (0.86) (6%) Green spaces (acres) 7.46 7.76 0.3 4% Amenities (acres) 8.01 8.01 0 0% Units 304 328 24 7.9%

2.4.2

Design The design aspects which are compared include residential building shape and

internal space. i) House shape

Honeycomb houses are trapezium or triangular in shape while terrace houses are shaped rectangular. Honeycomb houses are joint side-to-side and backto-back like semi-detached houses. This may create sense of exclusiveness amongst the home owner.

ii)

Internal Space
• •

A terraced house is straight and rectangular in shape Honeycomb houses which shaped like trapezium or triangular have a narrow front opening and wider back part (kitchen), which is believed to be undesirable in the context of Feng Shui.

The shape of Honeycomb houses causes the existence of edges at some corners of the house. And this may be a setback because people may find it difficult to arrange furniture.

8 2.4.3 Social Integration Sense of community and sense of security are part of the important aspects in social integration in a neighbourhood. i) Sense of Community

Clustered Honeycomb housing may encourage interaction between the residents in the same courtyard neighbourhood, thus fostering the sense of community among the residents

Residents will have the opportunity to know their neighbours in the same courtyard neighbourhood thus facilitating the feeling of togetherness and sense of belonging

Terrace housing allows less opportunity for residents to interact, the open space is always located a distance away

ii)

Sense of Security

Honeycomb housing provides for a better effect in ’physiological protection’ as clearer territory is present

Sense of security can be promoted further as better surveillance of the living area is possible. This is because the courtyard neighbourhood is a semi private zone thus it deters unwanted strangers

Terrace houses face the local road directly after the front yard; hence there is a higher chance for strangers to intrude into the private zone.

2.5

Conclusion Honeycomb housing was introduced as it is envisaged that a better and

conducive living environment at the same density as conventional terrace housing can be made possible. It is further envisaged that better community bonding could be fostered and crime prevention heightened. The comparison shows that Honeycomb housing could achieve slightly higher density than terrace housing. However, there are some shortcomings in Honeycomb housing. The odd shape of the house design might make buyers have second thought about investing in such housing. This may have an impact on the acceptance of Honeycomb housing amongst developers.

9 Chapter 3: ACCEPTANCE OF HONEYCOMB HOUSING

The findings of analysis are summarized into for main parts. They are the profile of private housing developers, the preferred housing layout among developers, views from the developers, and lastly, the acceptance of Honeycomb housing amongst developers.

i)

Profile of Private Housing Developer

A majority of the developers have been in the business for more than 10 years and hold paid-up capital of more than RM2 million. Most of them are involved in the medium to large scale projects (more than 50 acres). However most of the developers are engaged in not more than 5 projects.

ii)

Preferred Housing Layout among Housing Developers

The findings show that layout with linear design such as gridiron, rectilinear and cul-de-sac are much preferred by housing developers. See table 3.1.

Table 3.1: Types of layout design according to level of preference
Preference Level 1 2 3 Layout Design Loop Cluster Cul-de-sac

Rectilinear 4 Gridiron 5 *1-least preferred, 5- most preferred

The findings are easily proved by current scenario where most of the residential areas are of linear design. This is because linear design is said to be the most effective design in achieving optimum land usage. Other than that, it is also seen as more flexible as its linear form will create a simpler circulation, at the same time easing construction works. Layout with loop and cluster design is

10 less preferred especially in medium cost housing as both design are seen as less effective in achieving optimum land usage.

iii)

Developers’ Views towards Honeycomb housing

The Proportional z-Test shows that more than 50 percent of developers did not know about Honeycomb housing. Nonetheless, half of the total developers agree that Honeycomb housing is better than current terrace housing. Table 3.2 shows the characteristics of Honeycomb housing and terrace housing.

Table 3.2: Characteristics of Honeycomb housing and terrace housing
• • • • • • • • •

Perumahan Honeycomb Circulation system which aims at ’traffic calming’ Safer environment ’Thermal comforting’ Foster community building Large amount of open space Better privacy Possibility to be conflict with ’Feng Shui’ Possibility of higher selling price Possibly more difficult in getting approval from local authority

• • • •

Perumahan Teres Cheaper construction cost Simpler circulation system Cara penyusunan ruang yang lebih fleksibel Flexibility in arrangement of space

Most of the developers feel that Honeycomb housing might be better in providing a safer living environment due to reduced through traffic in its circulation system as well as the creation of a better sense of community. As Honeycomb housing has the tendency to provide larger amount of open space, thus, it will help reduce the heat-island effect as big trees can be planted at the small parks in each courtyard neighbourhood.

However, there are factors of Honeycomb housing may take developers feel a little apprehensive. The circulation system in Honeycomb housing may be quite complicated compared to linear design. This is because cul-de-sac system is used to create a courtyard neighbourhood, thus may be difficult for visitors or homeowner to reach certain destinations. Furthermore the building design of Honeycomb houses is likely to be in conflict with Feng Shui beliefs. In addition,

11 because of Honeycomb housing is new and there may be possibility of a longer time period be needed in getting planning approval. Furthermore, the odd shape of the house building is seen as inflexible for furniture placing.

iv)

Acceptance of Honeycomb Housing amongst Developers

Due to the uncertainties posted by the developers, most of them think that the concept of Honeycomb housing is good but it might be difficult to be implemented. However, there are still 40 percent of the developers agree with this concept and think that it can be carried out. This shows that most of the developers carry positive attitude towards Honeycomb housing. Proven by ChiSquare Test, this finding is related to their opinion saying that Honeycomb housing is better than terrace housing. Other than that, Proportional z-Test also confirms that there are more than half of the total developers willing to develop Honeycomb housing mixing with terrace housing. According to another ChiSquare Test carried out, this result is because most of the developers think that the concept of Honeycomb housing is good but might be difficult to be implemented therefore they choose to carry out mixed development (Honeycomb housing and terrace).

When asked about the reason of choosing to develop Honeycomb housing, most of the developers think that this new concept may attract buyers especially buyers who insist on a quality living environment. On the other hand, for those developers who did not prefer Honeycomb housing, they think that the odd shape of the building might be more difficult to attract buyers.

It is proven by Chi-Square Test and gamma test that the acceptance of Honeycomb housing amongst developers is related to their opinion whether Honeycomb housing is better than terrace housing; the feasibility of the concept, as well as the preferred layout type. In another saying, the acceptance of Honeycomb housing is affected by their preferred types of layout, their opinion on the feasibility of Honeycomb housing and whether or not Honeycomb housing is better than terrace housing.

12 Gamma Test shows that there is weak association between the feasibility and the acceptance of the concept. There are developers who feel that Honeycomb housing is acceptable but do not necessarily believe the concept is good to be implemented. On the other hand, the preferred layout types show both positive and negative association with the acceptance of Honeycomb housing. The strongest association is between preferences on cluster design with the acceptance of Honeycomb housing. In other words, those developers who prefer cluster design are more likely to accept Honeycomb housing.

In short, a majority of the developers feel that Honeycomb housing is acceptable, and as expected there are a few who feels otherwise Hence, it can be concluded that Honeycomb housing concept is acceptable amongst housing developers, and as expected with anything new, it may require time and the implementation of pilot projects utilising Honeycomb housing to convince housing developers of the new concept.

13 Chapter 4: CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS

This chapter summarizes the overall research according to the objectives set forth earlier. Recommendations in light of improvements to Honeycomb housing concept was identified in the chapter.

4.1 Conclusion of Study This study is carried out based on the objectives set out earlier. Therefore, in the end of the study, the writer summarizes the overall research according to the objectives.

i)

To introduce Honeycomb housing to private housing developers The writer has succeeded in introducing the concept of Honeycomb housing to the private housing developers. Before this study is done, almost all of the developers did not know about this concept. It is wished that through this study, the developers are exposed to this new concept, thus providing alternatives to their projects.

ii)

To compare the difference of landuse efficiency, design and social between Honeycomb housing and terrace housing

This objective is achieved through Chapter 2. The writer has compared some of the aspects of Honeycomb housing to terrace housing. The aspects include landuse efficiency, design and social. Honeycomb housing can achieve slightly higher density than terrace housing. For the comparison on building shape and internal space, Honeycomb houses are shaped like trapezium or triangular while terrace houses are rectangular in shape. The existence of edges due to the building shape of Honeycomb houses are seen to be inflexible for furniture placement. From the aspect of social integration, Honeycomb housing is ought to be better in achieving community bonding.

14 iii) To elicit views and acceptance of Honeycomb concept amongst private developers.

From the survey done, it can be concluded that most of the developers have positive views towards Honeycomb housing. Most of them find this concept acceptable. However, there are several qualms such as the odd shape of the building, possible longer period in getting planning approval and so on. Therefore, most of them would rather choose to develop mixed housing (Honeycomb with terrace) than fully Honeycomb housing.

4.2 Recommendations From the study, several recommendations are suggested for improvement of the concept.

i)

Vigorous publicity be undertaken to introduce Honeycomb housing concept

At this stage, more publicity is needed to promote the concept of Honeycomb housing and to expose it to the related professions and the house buyers. For example, carry out exhibition, show, or seminar and conference to discuss and debate about this concept. Other than that, developers are encouraged to set up Honeycomb show house to better demonstrate the concept to potential buyers.

ii)

Modify the hierarchy of cul-de-sac

In the current Honeycomb housing, every courtyard is a cul-de-sac. Three courtyard neighbourhood will form a cul-de-sac community. In other words, there will be two level of cul-de-sac. This might be quite inconvenient for home owners and visitors to reach their destination. Therefore, it is suggested that the level of cul-de-sac to be reduced to one level to ease the circulation system in Honeycomb housing.

15

Cul-de-sac level one Cul-de-sac level two

Neighbourhood with one level cul-de-sac

Figure 4.1: Cul-de-sac level in one cul-de-sac community

iii)

Improve the accessibility to cul-de-sac community

In current Honeycomb housing concept, there is only one access to one cul-de-sac community. Most of the developers also suggested that it is better to have more access for safety reason.

Access to cul-de-sac community

Figure 4.2: Improve the accessibility to cul-de-sac community

iv)

Creation of Gated Honeycomb

Safety has been put at the first priority in choosing houses to live in today. A lot of developers suggested so that Honeycomb housing been converted into gated community. In their opinion, gated community is better in promising a safer environment, at the same time easier to attract buyers.

16 v) Waste Collecting

It is suggested that a waste collection center is build near to the access of Honeycomb housing so that waste collecting lorries will not need to enter the housing area as the road design might be inconvenient for heavy vehicles.

4.3 Suggested Future Studies

Other than this study, there are still several related topics about Honeycomb housing that can be researched.

i)

Comments from various technical departments as well as related professions such as architects, town planners, engineers, quantity surveyors and contractor

Comments from technical departments and related professions are important to determine the feasibility of Honeycomb housing. For example, Planning Department, Jabatan Penyaliran dan Saliran (JPS), Bomba, Jabatan Kerja Raya, Pejabat Tanah dan Galian, Pejabat Tanah dan Daerah, Department of Environment (DOE) and so on. They are the technical departments referred in the process of gaining planning approval. From their comments, researcher will get to know what are the specific requirements needed in the development of Honeycomb housing.

ii)

Feasibility Study of Honeycomb housing

Feasibility study is a crucial study needed in housing development, especially in developing a new concept. The feasibility study will cover all the cost and cash flow involved in developing the concept of Honeycomb housing. The result will then answer part of the doubts among the developers. They will then have a clearer picture of the feasibility of Honeycomb housing in terms of economic factor.

17 4.4 Conclusion

In the 21st century, quality is the measurer of all. Home buyers nowadays are given lots more choices than before, due to the upgraded living quality and lifestyle. Developers are competing with each other in providing better living environment in order to attract home buyers. Therefore, modern developers are willing try out new concepts in order to provide variety for home buyers. This can be proved by findings where most of the developers welcome the concept of Honeycomb housing. In conclusion, the concept of Honeycomb housing is acceptable by majority of the developers in Johor Bahru.

Appendix A Flow Chart of Research Methodology
Identifying the Issues and Problems Safety and social problem in housing area nowadays. Honeycomb housing is introduced as a new alternative. Do the developers find this concept acceptable and thus interpret it into housing development?

• • •

Determining Objectives and Scopes of Study i) To introduce Honeycomb housing to private housing developers. ii) To compare the difference of landuse efficiency, design and social between Honeycomb housing and terrace housing. iii) To elicit views and acceptance of Honeycomb concept amongst private developers.

Determining Area of Study/Case Study • Private housing developers in Johor Bahru

Stage 1 (Chapter 1)
Literature Review The concept of Honeycomb housing, its purpose and advantages, comparison of Honeycomb housing with terrace housing

Stage 2 (Chapter 2)
Determining the Methodology and Sampling Sampling: Simple Random Sampling, Sample size: 40 housing developers Data collecting methods - (a) Literature Review; (b) Survey

• •

Data Collection Secondary Data • Books and journals, websites, newspaper articles, seminar papers, related regulations Primary Data • Interview (concept founder) • Survey (housing developers)

• • • •

Data Analysis Respondents’ profile Preferred types of layout Developers’ opinion on Honeycomb housing Developers’ acceptance towards Honeycomb housing

Methods of Analysis • Frequency Analysis • Score Analysis Proportional Test • Chi-Square Test • Gamma Test

Stage 3 (Chapter 3)
Findings, Conclusions and Recommendations

Stage 4 (Chapter 4)

Appendix B The formation of a courtyard neighbourhood and cul-de-sac community

+ +

Courtyard neighbourhood

Cul-de-sac community

Bigger neighbourhood