WHAT do Hyde Park in London, Central Park in New York, and Hyde Park in Sydney have in common?
They are like little oases in the middle of the city; a space where city folk can get respite from the stress of work, enjoy some recreation and even derive inspiration.
People use the parks during and after office hours to have a meal, exercise, or do their work in an outdoor setting.
Some walk across the park to get to the other side of the city.
The role of public parks have changed somewhat over the past few decades.
From being a thing of beauty and recreation, parks now are integrated into the development of an area.
Kuala Lumpur has two such parks located in the city centre – KLCC Park and Taman Tugu park which is still under planning stages.
Institute of Landscape Architects Malaysia (Ilam) president Assoc Prof Dr Osman Mohd Tahir said parks were no longer located in corners of a city but centrally located and served as connectors to other areas.
“They are designed to attract people to gather and enjoy the greenery and fresh air.
“They also create an environment for people to relax and get inspiration,” said Dr Osman.
“This has been known to have a therapeutic effect, which leads to better efficiency in daily life.
“It is also a boost for the green economy as parks are usually linked to an increase in the value of a property and its surrounding area.”
On the Taman Tugu project, Dr Osman said Ilam strongly supported it and was discussing with Khazanah Nasional to be part of the development team.
“It is high time Malaysia has its own ‘Central Park’.
“Having a park in the city will allow people to enjoy the greenery and be able to relate to the culture and soul of the city,” he said.
From beautification touch-ups to seamless integration, Dr Osman noted that the trends in landscape development had greatly changed over the decades.
“Thirty to 40 years ago, landscape architecture used to be seen as a measure to provide a more pleasing look to development projects and were implemented at the end stage.
“It has since evolved whereby it is integrated and incorporated into the planning stages of a development,” he said, citing Putrajaya’s intelligent garden city concept as an example.
“These days, landscape architecture can even be used to solve certain issues if planned early.
“For example, the issue of stormwater management and water run-off can be addressed by integrating them with a river corridor or retention pond that has been landscaped into a public park.
“That way, the park is both functional and pleasing,” said Dr Osman in an interview held ahead of the Malaysia Landscape Architecture Awards.
The annual event recognises quality landscape architecture work and projects by people in the industry, including developers, contractors, researchers and students.
The ceremony will be held this weekend to coincide with World Landscape Architecture Month. Ilam will also launch the Landscape Architect Agenda (LAA) 2050 then.
“It is projected that 30 years from now, 90% of the country’s population will be living in cities.
“This will result in greater demand for housing, and landscaping will be a factor to consider when buying a property.
“Landscaping needs to be seen as something that inspires our living and increases our quality of life,” said Dr Osman, adding that landscaping covered both horizontal and vertical concepts.
Ilam will invite industry players, policymakers and related stakeholders to give their input for LAA 2050, which will serve as the master plan for landscape architecture in Malaysia for the next 30 years.
This will culminate with the Landscape Architect Summit to be held in Malaysia in 2020, in which over 60 countries under the International Federation of Landscape Architects will be represented. Ten strategic areas have been outlined in LAA 2050.
“We need to look into policies and certain legislations for landscape development and green space. We also need to integrate new ideas, research and technology in order to move forward,” added Dr Osman, who is also the dean of Universiti Putra Malaysia’s Faculty of Design and Architecture.
Topics outlined in LAA 2050 include urban farming to address food security issues, parks and gardens as green connectors to link to other spaces, as well as landscaping as something that inspires living and connects to memories and heritage.
“The agenda will feature local content with an international outlook. Once it’s in place, the curriculum for landscape architecture will be changed.
“We want to encourage more innovation and critical thinking, and provide a better quality and more comprehensive solutions.
“It is no longer about designing with drawing boards, but seeing landscape architecture as a bigger picture,” concluded Dr Osman.