An Alternative Paradigm Toward Rural R/Evolution
by Chua Chang Yeong
| Universiti Putra Malaysia
The initiation of this thesis is based on the of dramatic global rise of urbanization which reflects the urban-centric zeitgeist on part of modernism. Urbanization often conceived as generic, universally replicable types of human settlement. As the result of urban-bias, to develop the rural is to turn it into an intensive, physically overwhelming urban city. Such fixity and rigidity in conventional urbanization process has often delocalized the very essence of the rural setting. Often, urban-rural dichotomy portrayed as an antithetical dualism rather a neutral pair. It shows the symptoms of inequality of physical performance, as well as the inequality of public perception between urban and rural.
This thesis confronts such challenges of conventional urban planning in rural setting through rural evolutionary resilience, which is to bounce forward to transform in order to reinforce the existing rural structure. To quote the words from Christopher Lee, “the city and its quality of prosperity, civility and simulation can be infused with the very essence of countryside”. This leads to the thesis vision of rural- urban connectivity. Rural r/evolution should embrace the emerging technology, as well as the possibilities and opportunities from the urban counterpart, at the same time, to take the changes and challenges, to remain the environmental wellness and cultural diversity of rural. In short, the hypothetical model aims to reconfigure urban architecture in rural setting in order to enhance rural growth while retaining the rural essence, eventually to rematerialize and even resocialize our cultural understandings of rural (and urban) spaces. Unlike the concept of Suburbanization which focuses on the hierarchical rural-urban continuum, this thesis is rather to promote the two-edged equality between rural and urban.
The proposed site, Kampung Bukit Tinggi is located in Pahang, the least urbanized state which is right adjacent to Kuala Lumpur Metropolitan, contrarily the most urbanized state in Malaysia. The macro-site selection criteria is based on: the Proximity to Urban Area, Demographic trend or Rural-Urban Crossing, Development thread of Rural-Urban Shifting, Difficulty in accessing to Urban Facilities and Essence of Rurality.
While, the micro-site selection criteria is based on: the Sensitivity to Intensive Urban-centric Development, Connectivity to Local and the Urban Social Capital/Resources and Site Exposure. The study of morphological pattern shows the contrast between Kampung Bukit Tinggi and Kuala Lumpur. Kampung Bukit Tinggi shows the luxurious greenery figure ground while Kuala Lumpur city is physically intensive urban fabric due to the rich physical infrastructure development. Apparently. there’s the issue of conventional urbanization that is triggering the locals and the local community are protesting against such intensive urban planning in order to safeguard their rural home.
The proposal of Rurban Gateway in Kampung Bukit Tinggi envisions the rural-urban connectivity while the programmatic design emphasizes on the commercial aspects (economic input and output) towards rural growth and autonomy. Rurban Gateway is developed into three main building blocks including The Building of Rurban Crossover, The Building of Rurban Co-Working Space and The Building of Rurban Cloud Market.
The Building of Rurban Cloud Market served as the rural-urban trade center to enhance the rurbanomics, that emphasizes the interrelatedness and interdependency of rural and urban economies. The Building of Rurban Crossover served as the logistic center building which completed with warehouse function to support the economic input and output between rural and urban. Lastly, The Building of Rurban Co-Working Space supports the off-premise employment to enable the diversity of jobs and professions in rural settings. All these collective programmes are linked as a whole to support the rural development.
The proposed project is sitting on a 4.7 acres plot surrounded by greenery. The inverted form of building massing is designed with progressive built-up from ground to cloud, in order to minimize the building impacts on ground while to emphasize the space in the cloud. In contrast to the urban concrete jungle which conventionally focus on singularity and homogeneity, the architecture of Rurban Gateway is rather focus on multiplicity and heterogeneity through the breakdowns of programmatic plug-ins and liberalized architectonic which is reflected on the building facade. Basically, the building is the assemblage of collective programmatic modules. Such liberated spaces can transform over time based on the societal transformation while it enables the unique, porous and natural- appreciated spatial experience throughout the project.
Rurban Gateway adopted the structural solution of core-frame-supporting system, combination of the permanent structural system (concrete core), the support system(steel frame) and the programmatic plug-ins (timber module). The hybrid system enables the random module interchangeability over time, and also, the easy plug-in / out structural connections between the host structure and programmatic modules. This structural design approach with the breakdowns of architectural elements enables the accessibility of materials into the off-grid rural setting.
The hypothetical model of Rurban Gateway is an alternative paradigm toward the rural r/evolution that try to break the stereotype of urban planning, perhaps, it contributes to the rural growth and to achieve an equal value system between rural and the urban counterpart.
TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION
Ar. Dr. Lim Chin Haw