Thursday, October 13, 2016

CTBUH 2016 Conference in Shenzhen

I'll be there, and I'm looking forward to it:

CTBUH 2016 Session Spotlight | 国际会议亮点:
Social Spaces at Height | 在高处的社会空间

As a result of their densities, tall buildings have the power to connect building users in communal spaces that bend current understandings of how social interactions can take place at height. At the same time, the incorporation of these elements into a high-rise can be somewhat challenging. Presenters in this session will chronicle their experiences drawing public activity into the vertical realm.


Session 4D:
分会 4D:
"Social Spaces at Height"
"在高处的社会空间 "
03:45 PM – 05:15 PM

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Overcoming the problem of innovation in housing

A study has confirmed what many have suspected all along – that people, or specifically organizations, don’t really like new and creative ideas. What they like are the beneficial outcomes of new and creative ideas; actually trying to implement new ideas for the first time is hard, risky and for most, out of their comfort zone. I found out this out the hard way.

This is especially true for housing development. It is a long term venture that is fraught with pitfalls that can bankrupt companies. Most developers, especially the long established ones, take the view that they already know how to make money. They stick to the model that works for them and make do with small tweaks to designs that are known to work.

In Malaysia, as in most other countries, the housing industry involves many players. There are many steps in the delivery process, and at each step, many parties may be involved, starting with the land owner, land broker, developer, town planner, architect, various sorts of engineers, the main contractor, sub-contractors, banks and financiers, local authorities, various government departments, utility companies, estate agents, sales and marketing people, and not forgetting the house-buyers.

The developer is perceived as the main mover in the value chain, but, the housing market is very fragmented. No developer controls more than 10% of it. Success in any particular geographical location is no guarantee of success in another location: the local knowledge and standing of the developer is absolutely critical. In addition, developers would often complain that they are at the mercy of the approving authorities. The housing industry is also very highly regulated, and the power to delay or veto a proposal is dispersed amongst many approving bodies. 

Some developers may have been impressed by the Honeycomb idea, but had serious worries about the feasibility and cost, and about the marketability but, most importantly, about whether the plans could be approved. We had gone a long way in addressing the first issue through number crunching analysis, and the second through market studies. But the potential problem of getting approvals was particularly difficult to overcome. 

So I’m particular indebted to Dato’ Abdul Rahman of Mudra Tropika Sdn Bhd and the Johor State Government, at that time helmed by Tan Sri Ghani Othman, who backed a Honeycomb layout for the redevelopment of land that had dilapidated government quarters in an old part of Johor Bahru called Nong Chik. 

The site lies along the hill slope between Jalan Kolam Air to the west which runs parallel to Sungai Chat, Jalan Abdul Samad which passes along the ridge of the hill to the east, within a few kilometers of Johor Bahru city centre.

Just a few kilometres from the centre of the city, the neighbourhood had a history stretching back to when Johor Bahru when it had only just become the capital of the State of Johor. This land was granted by Sultan Abu Bakar to businessman of Yemeni descent in the late 19th Century and the kampong that grew on it adopted the nickname of its founder.

The client was especially keen to develop something special on this site, both to do justice the historic and commercial value of the site and to establish the reputation of his new housing development company.