Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The expansion of modern capitalism in cities has resulted in the erosion of indigenous cultural identities. In Asian cities, the forms of gentrification are ubiquitous, causing urban villages to face an uncertain future. Kampung Baru remains as one of the few surviving villages in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. As years have passed, the settlement developed into an oasis surrounded by countless development. However, the survival of this village has been a struggle. This is evident through the countless attempts by the authorities to redevelop the village into a modern metropolis, which has received strong resistance from the public.
This project aims to address the issues of density and also the extinction of indigenous identities. The population of residents in the settlement is escalating and in need of a housing proposal that would cater the increasing demand. Its population has increased from around 16,000 in year 2000, to 19,500 in year 2017. A new form of housing proposal is in need for the people, one that opposes the standard model of urbanisation. The new housing typology should address the cultural needs of the people as many are unwilling to change their ‘kampung’ (Malay village) lifestyle.
The survivals of these vernacular settlements are fundamental to city’s equilibrium. Today, the formal and informal sectors of the city constantly depend on each other despite the reluctance of the former to acknowledge it. Vernacular enclaves ensure a balance in the social landscape of the city. Therefore ‘upgrading’ the village to meet the western image of an ‘ideal city’ would be detrimental to its urban development. This project aims to promote the persistence of localism through the adoption of vernacular values.
The Kampung Hybridisation seeks to combine and merge traditional Malay architecture with contemporary design that is sensitive to its local environment. It envisions the creation of a ‘contemporary kampung’ through the adoption of traditional values with contemporary methods of fabrication. The distinguishing factors that separate a kampung from cities are the unique adoption of land laws, social landscapes, active street life and a stronger sense of dependence among its residence. These values are incorporated in the design through the proposed Urban Catalysts which spread throughout the housing proposals. These catalysts aim to create overlaying networks intersecting both formal and informal sectors. They encourage frequent interaction between residents which is essential for a community dependent system.
The indigenous cultural values are realised by emulating the kampung scale, informal breakout spaces, vernacular social systems and bioclimatic strategies. Prefabricated modules of Glulam and CLT tectonics replicate the vernacular houses creating a mass-customisation of units that respond to the growing needs of the place. The fabrication of the proposal revolves around the concept of ‘dry connections’ which emulates the dry construction of vernacular Malay houses. The CLT prefabricated modules can be easily assembled and disassembled which encourages flexible change.
The vernacular enclave must be given larger purpose in the evolution of the city. A pedestrian link is proposed to connect the village to the city. The pedestrian link will act as a mediator, creating new networks of physical and social relations while breaking the rural-urban boundary. Re-linking the city to the vernacular settlement will create a new dynamic between the two.