Landscape alteration in urban residential areas of Selangor, Malaysia
A residential landscape is one expression of the intrinsic and cognitive values of a relationship between humans and their environment. "Experiential landscape‟ is established when people shape and construct their living environment and in turn, they are shaped and constructed by this living environment. In Malaysia, the rural cultural landscape is one example of the above phenomenon. The rural cultural landscape is the result of human adaptation and subtle modification of the natural environment in the effort of creating preferred living settings. Rural villagers are communally involved in the establishment of place identity, developing sense of place and a sense of belonging towards their living places. Urban dwellers who live in urban housing areas in Malaysia experience a contrasting situation. Their physical living environments are pre-constructed with homogenous characteristics by the residential developers. This includes not only the houses, but also the public landscapes surrounding the residential areas in which they live. These "prepared living settings‟ present different living phenomena compared to the "naturally evolved‟ rural cultural landscapes. In these conditions, the residents may experience a sense of alienation towards their outdoor living spaces and community members. It has long been known that urban dwellers in the majority of residential schemes in Selangor remove trees planted in public landscape areas and replace them with their desired species in order to create small orchards and herb gardens. I refer to this phenomenon as the "altered landscape‟. This study investigates this occurrence, which has been given little attention by local landscape architects and in the landscape architecture literature. I investigate the reasons for the alteration of the existing landscape by rural-urban migrants in low, medium and high-cost residential areas. The majority of migrants to Kuala Lumpur originated from rural areas and are strongly attched to the village cultural landscape. A comparative study of the original landscape submission plans (before development) and existing inventory plans was undertaken to document the changes that were made by the residents. In-dept interviews were also conducted with three parties; namely the policy makers (government body) who were responsible for the policies that lead to the development of the plans, the landscape architects who developed the plans and the migrants who live in the residential areas under investigation. The findings of this research provide evidence that the majority of residents' made an effort to re-create meaningful home landscapes, which reflected their attachments and feeling of belonging to living spaces. This research will contribute to an understanding of how the cultural landscape in an urban residential area provides a means of integrating people and place. This study will also contribute to promoting awareness among policy makers, landscape architects and developers of the importance of developing a responsive and conducive living environment for the community.... [Show full abstract]
KeywordsMalaysia; urban residential landscape; landscape alteration; rural landscape; everyday landscape; meanings in landscape
Fields of Research12 Built Environment and Design
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