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29 May 2012
Ed Baker: The Growing Asian City
Broadway Malyan's Director of Master Planning talks about urban design and planning in Asian cities today.
In his role as Director of Master Planning at Broadway Malyan, Ed Baker manages the master planning teams in the firm’s Singapore and Shanghai offices, and has played a lead role in a number of high profile international projects in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa. Here, he shares with us his views on the growing Asian city and its implications.
CIBIS Jakarta is a sustainable mixed-used business community
What sort of impact has rapid urbanisation and population growth had on cities in Asia?
In Asia, increased urbanisation and population growth in cities is placing increased pressure on infrastructure.
A city like Jakarta in Indonesia is well published as a place where fast city growth and development is placing the current infrastructure under pressure. Some of the key issues are traffic and flooding. To deal withthis, the public and private sectors are investing in infrastructure including public transport like the proposed MRT line and introducing new guidelines for green buildings and sustainable design to manage water systems. You can have economic growth but unless you get the infrastructure right this progress can be hindered.
Other fast growing mega cities like Mumbai, Shanghai and Manila are facing similar issues as the infrastructure struggles to keep pace with economic growth and the pressures this places on the urban areas. For these cities to compete as global or leading regional cities, the good planning needs to keep pace with the economic aspirations.
Medini Media in Malaysia is a mixed-use business community
What developmental trends are emerging as a result?
All new developments need to plug into the existing city, so the trend in places like Jakarta will be towards more self-sustaining, mixed-use communities and sub-centres. This reduces the need for people to travel great distances. Jakarta is becoming increasingly a city of many centres – cities within a city.
Anglo India Cricket Communities in Pune and various locations across India
Which cities in Asia have some of the best planning and infrastructure in place?
Cities like Singapore have and continue to lead the way in terms of innovative planning and design. This can be seen in the advanced public transport system and investment in key areas like open space planning, water management and new, specialist business communities. It is not uncommon to hear the words 'We want to be Singapore' coming out of a mayor’s mouth whether this be in Asia, Africa or the Middle East. If one of the regional trends over the next 30 years is competition for human resources, cities need to work harder to attract and retain these people – quality of life in urban areas is a very important part of the story. This is part of the Singapore success story.
Huangpu 3.0 in Shanghai, a high density development on a 200 hectare site
What then is the key role of the urban designer and planner today?
This is the role we play as responsible urban designers and planners – how to create quality of life.
With pressures on spaces, Asian cities are becoming increasingly innovative in how to plan for the future.
Our recent planning project in Shanghai, Huangpu 3.0, explored the future generation of high density development on a 200 hectare site on the Huangpu River. In Shanghai, there are pressures on existing land, particularly on the city fringe. For Huangpu 3.0, we explored the idea of how to increase Shanghai's position as a global city and its competitiveness regionally and internationally. This included looking at maximising density, efficient energy and resource management, open space planning and multi-modal transportation networks including a proposed PRT system. A key component of the design process was how to improve quality of life and make this accessible to as many people as possible.