By CARLOS RUBEN DOURADO
Photos by Valentina Tan
Is it possible for the process of urban regeneration to not only take the past into consideration but also how it can interact with future communities? As time progresses, our city is transforming before our eyes, deprived areas are given a new breath of life which changes its original context but in some cases also provides opportunity for community and economic growth.
In the fourth instalment of the #BetterCities talk series, a panel of speakers were introduced to not only share their views on today’s modern day developments but also to understand their perspectives on the role of “place-making” in the evolving urban landscape.
Karen Tan, founder of Pocket Projects in Singapore started this initiative three years ago.
She and her team are a creative development consultancy who conceptualise and manage niche urban development projects in Singapore.
“We aren’t interested in big, commercial towers. What we focus on are niche, small development projects that are very strongly designed with a social blend.”
A year ago, Tan and her team completed a project called The Lorong 24A Shophouse Series where eight different architects were asked to re-design eight shophouses in Geylang. “Every shophouse is the same from the outside, but when you open the door to each one, it’s like a whole new ‘Alice in Wonderland’ experience.”
Jennifer Kuah, an entrepreneur born and bred in Perak, grew up among food and pastries in her great-grandfather’s pastry shop. “I like working in an environment where I can just walk freely along the corridor and talk to random people. That’s how living should be like, we should get out there, especially since young people are always willing to jump into something new.”
The director of Asianage Holdings owns Food Foundry and Butter + Beans in Section 17 and Feeka on Jalan Mesui, the latest addition to her string of coffee shops. “Our coffee shops are known for being a little hipster but I believe that if I stuck at a service that made people happy, I would make it.”
Lim Take Bane, an architect from Kuala Lumpur, spent some of his years training to be an architect in Britain. He highlighted how many places in Malaysia take on different flavours at different times.
“We can see how Jonker’s Street in Malacca has evolved from a tiny residential area to one of the main tourist attractions in Malaysia. Even places like Bangsar have everything you need.”
The architecture advocate strongly expressed his love for architectural heritage conservation, saying that architecture is like an empty space, coming alive when people are in it.
“Even at the risk of being vandalised, cities should be designed to uplift people’s spirit.”
#BetterCities is a campaign directed at nurturing a sense of community and shared identity among the people – from the grassroots level. The campaign aims to improve urban living condition in South-East Asian cities as well as encourage its people to be more responsible for the places and spaces they are in.
*For more information on #BetterCities, visit betterciti.es.