Transforming from a street of fear to a street of hope through urban resilience
The Kuala Lumpur city is a truly an exceptional place. Our city’s 1.73 million (as of 2016) people are nestled within a stunning cityscape of high-rises and natural beauty interlaced with forest bounty. It is also traversed by a riverine through the central city with a confluence of two majors rivers namely the Gombak River and the Klang River.
Our cities and towns are full of economic opportunity and cultural richness, with many vibrant downtowns and thriving neighbourhoods. Put it all together and those of us who call the Kuala Lumpur home can say that we are lucky to live in a place like no other on Earth. But our city faces a challenge. Over the next generation, our population will grow by roughly 650,000 people, from 1.73 million today to 2.352 million in 2040.
We have a choice: Will we choose to protect our greenbelt of natural landscapes, rivers, and forests as we grow, or sprawl ever outward? Will we choose to invest in the vitality of our cities and towns, making neighbourhoods throughout our city places where people are proud to call home, or will we neglect our existing communities in order to fuel destructive sprawl?
One of the major streets that cut through the city of Kuala Lumpur from the east to the core is the Jalan Ampang. It begins with the Lebuh Ampang that begins at the Market Square near the Central Market. This road traverses eastwards all the way to the foothills of the ridges of Titiwangsa mountain ranges. Ampang Great Street strategy using resilient city design protocols like innovative urban street design, new resilient homes, shops, and workplaces mixed together in walkable, transit-accessible locations with vibrant and vital river connectivity can deliver economic, environmental, and quality of life benefits for the Jalan Ampang street’s residents and the city beyond.
Done right, it can transform abandoned and neglected sites into safe, inviting places for people of all ages, incomes, and backgrounds. It can create thriving neighbourhoods that fittingly complement our iconic high-rises with inviting people places landscapes and our innovation-based economy. Infill development can provide the housing choices that are essential to meet the needs of the Kuala Lumpur’s city workforce and of people across the socioeconomic spectrum. It can foster more walkable, bicycle-friendly coupled with good transit connectivity neighbourhoods that lead to active lifestyles and better health outcomes. And it can help ease development pressure on our treasured open spaces and along the Klang River.
The Jalan Ampang is in the midst of a crisis, which is defining its role as a main street as well as a living street squeezing working families and those earning low incomes as it gets to be better known for its locality and convenience to get to the city centre. It is important to note that concerns about rising housing costs and fears of being displaced (whether as a renter or small-business owner) are valid and far-reaching.
Ideally, the paper proposes to use the resilient city design protocols as one of the ways to address these concerns that requires active participation of residents, architects and other stakeholders to see it being a successful initiative for the sustainability and existence of Jalan Ampang to be labelled as one of the many great streets of the world.