The alienation of futuristic architecture concepts

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It is questionable if these futuristic ideas are artistically superior.

It is questionable if these futuristic ideas are artistically superior.

 

Malaysia's urban landscape is a vibrant mosaic of influences. From colonial designs in crumbling shophouses to futuristic towers piercing the sky, its architecture tells a story of progress and cultural dynamism. But as we gaze up at all the shiny new towers gleaming and sparkling around the horizon, one cannot help but wonder what will shape the cities of our future. The only way to grasp an image is by delving into futuristic architectural concepts that could redefine the Malaysian property landscape, all while navigating the delicate balance between innovation and staying grounded among the Malaysian people.

The Department of Statistics Malaysia reported that the value of work done in Malaysia’s construction sector soared by 9.6% year-on-year in the third quarter of this year (3Q2023) to record a total of RM33.4bil. Malaysia is consistently rising in terms of development and a new bounty of exciting projects has made its mark on our landscape. But what are the tradeoffs?

The emergence of smart cities, which connect infrastructure and buildings through a web of sensors and data networks, is a notable trend. Though they also bring up issues with data security and privacy, these visions promise an efficient and convenient future. But just who is in charge of the information that these intelligent systems gather? And how are we going to make sure the data is used responsibly and ethically? So many questions and so little data security.

Malaysia’s shiny new skyscrapers

Looking at Malaysia's latest skyscrapers, Merdeka 118 and Exchange 106, these towers are more than meets the eye. For example, Exchange 106 has a holistic and sustainable building design that maximises efficiency and reduces lifetime carbon emissions. The Exchange TRX Sustainability Plan is also bursting with imperatives that the shiny giant promises to stick to. 

Tun Razak Exchange (TRX), along with its 106-storey tower,  is equipped with a network of sensors and cameras that collect data on things like traffic, air quality and energy consumption. This data is used to optimise the operation of TRX and make it more efficient. There is also a ten-acre park boasting interesting flora and fauna to help improve air quality and provide a relaxing environment. Such bio-integrated architecture promises not only to combat the urban heat effect but also to foster well-being and reconnect residents with the natural world.

Bio-integration is more than just style though. Envision structures that possess the ability to breathe, with the perfect integration of technologies to filter air and produce energy. This is the essence of living architecture, in which the structure transforms into an organism that responds to the needs of its occupants and adapts to its surroundings. Even though this technology is still in its early phases, it has the power to completely transform sustainability and bring in a new era of ecologically conscious living.

The feasibility and practicality of such ideas, however, are questioned. For bio-integrated and living architecture, there is still uncertainty about their financial viability, especially in a market where cost is a major consideration. It must be an administrative and financial nightmare to maintain such intricate systems.

What are they really for?

It is questionable if these futuristic ideas are artistically superior. Some imagine buildings that are more like sculptures than buildings, with sprawling, gravity-defying structures and others suggest buildings that engage their environment with dynamic lighting and projections. Though visually appealing, the inherent worth of these visions is still debatable. Will they have a deeper social and cultural purpose or will they just be extravagant follies for the wealthy and affluent?

What if the future city can be characterised by a network of lively, connected neighbourhoods rather than by tall buildings? Hyperlocalism is a concept that imagines self-sufficient communities centred around human-centric spaces. Imagine pedestrian-friendly streets with a row of unique stores and cafes where locals congregate to chat over coffee. Buildings serve as gathering places for nearby companies, educational institutions and medical facilities, fostering a feeling of community and purpose.

Does Malaysia really need more skyscrapers and other shiny new buildings? Kuala Lumpur’s inner city is barely clinging on its last few natural green lungs. While Exchange 106, Merdeka 118 and of course Petronas Twin Towers are iconic, the constant development will take a toll on not just the people but the environment and safety in the long run.

These futuristic architectural ideas will ultimately succeed or fail based on how well they strike a balance between creativity and realism, social responsibility and artistic expression. Malaysian cities need to be inclusive, sustainable and able to adapt to the needs of their citizens. Although it is important to push the boundaries of architectural design, doing so should improve the lives of all citizens, not just a few.

 


 

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