Extensive research has shown that the desire for ongoing contact with nature is a basic human necessity to ensure health, wellbeing and productivity.
A report for the Trust for Public Land in the USA, found that city parks and open space improve physical and psychological health, strengthen communities and make cities more attractive places to live and work.
As the US is now 80 percent urban, while Malaysia is breaching 75 percent, the need for greenery in cities is urgent. This principle, known as “biophilia” is now accepted as crucial to successful city planning to overcome the challenges of ensuring easy access to nature in an urban setting.
Iconic City, Green Lungs
New York City continues to be consistently recognised as one of the most liveable and prosperous cities in the world. This success depends in no small measure to its extensive network of more than 1,700 parks and other open spaces spanning over 30,000 acres, covering 14 percent of the city.
The history of New York City parks has been a colourful one: from the iconic 160-year old Central Park sprawled over 843 acres, the most visited urban American park with 43 million visitors annually, to more recently, the community activism that gave birth to the High Line, the stylish and much-copied elevated park constructed on a disused subway line.
Mitchell Silver, the parks commissioner of New York, likes to observe people in city parks. “When they enter a park space, you watch their whole countenance change. They feel they’re in a safe zone. Their guard is different. In a city where most people don’t have a yard, this becomes your living room,” he told the Guardian.
Kuala Lumpur’s Growing Green History
Despite its meteoric rise from a sleepy mining town to the glitzy capital city of Malaysia today, Kuala Lumpur has so far managed to maintain an impressive 30 percent green cover for its population of 1.76 million people.
In line with the City Council’s vision for an interconnected public realm including green spaces, KL Sentral has already been integrated, using a network of public transport and walkways, into a walkable journey all the way to the Perdana Lake Gardens via the National Museum.
Soon, a detour will be available to the KL Sentral Park, which will feature hundreds of varieties of plants and provide facilities for outdoor activities such as camping, jogging and hiking trails that weave around the lake, streams and rainforest hills.
“The public realm is the fabric of cities. And for us, it is really the heart and soul of the TRX project,” said Andrew Grant, one of the designers of TRX's public realm and park.
“I’m absolutely convinced that the public realm, the landscape and the park will become the mechanism that allows the TRX project to become a cohesive environment where the different communities can mix together and really make it an amazing place,” he said.
TRX's fully integrated public realm, from the park to public spaces and walkways, allows for continuous community engagement such that residents and visitors are seamlessly connected to natural features, including greenery and water, whether through their daily routines or leisure moments.