Research suggests that 66% of the world’s population will be living in urban areas by 2050. For this to happen a number of new infrastructure projects will need to be delivered around the world, particularly in developing countries where demographics are rapidly changing.
India needs to build 31,000 homes per day for the next fifteen years to meet the needs of its growing population, China is aiming for 60% of its population to live in urban areas by 2020 and the ASEAN members are all experiencing high growth.
This provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to challenge the approach to master planning and deliver solutions that are more comprehensive and integrated than ever before.
Old Concept, New Contexts
Transit orientated development (TOD) is certainly not a new concept. From the history of the first rail lines in United Kingdom in the 1800s, transit stations have always been the hubs of the community and the focus of economic and commercial activity.
In the late 1800’s Ebenezer Howard created a movement centered on satellite cites enabled by rail transit access. His ‘Garden City’ urban planning concept was focused primarily on real estate development with rail as the main link between developed areas.
The term Transit Orientated Development was popularised by Peter Calthorpe in the late 1980’s with the publication of the “The New American Metropolis” in 1993.
This was largely an American view created in response to the unchecked growth of American cities and the phenomena of car-dependent urban sprawl.
Although definitions of TOD vary, it is generally defined as ‘a mixed-use community of a sufficient density that encourages people to live near transit services and to decrease their dependence on driving’.
In Asia, the concept of TOD has been adopted and taken to a whole different level, spurred by the speed of growth and development and perhaps best demonstratedby cities like Hong Kong and Singapore where land is sparse and density is the king. The most widely recognised model is Hong Kong’s MTR approach - building near stations, beside them, on top of them, maximising the integration of uses and the opportunities for commercial and community development. If the definition of a TOD is sufficient density, then Hong Kong takes it to the extremes with its towering, compact development focused on the transit stations.
The New Centres of the Community
The traditional planning approach of single-use land zoning and the separation of different uses, with housing, industrial, leisure and work zones created without effective links between them has been challenged. With rapid urbanisation, as cities grow un-checked, un-regulated urban growth has seen the development of urban sprawl – single use zones of predominantly low density housing. This leads to a high dependency on private vehicle ownership which has negative environmental and health connotations and places pressure on transport networks, often leading to congestion and frustration as cities grow. For anybody who has travelled to Jakarta, Manila or Bangkok in the past few years, the experience of static traffic and jams will be all too familiar.
Bandar Malaysia: A Transit Orientated City
In Asia Pacific, one of key transport debates is around the continued growth and expansion of high speed rail (HSR) networks. This is typified by some of the more developed networks in Japan, Taiwan and China, but also the more recently announced proposals in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. For urban planners, the challenge is understanding what opportunities these networks and their new stations create and the potential for a TOD approach to planning.
For example, we have developed the proposals for Bandar Malaysia, a mixed-use city district at the terminus of the proposed Singapore to Kuala Lumpur high-speed railway. It is planned as a multi- modal transit orientated development with proposals for high speed rail (HSR) but also connected to wider regional and local rail lines, metro (MRT), bus rapid transit (BRT), cycle ways and a cool, shaded pedestrian network.
The 196-hectare project comprises residential, community, office, retail, leisure, cultural and hospitality space and will completely transform the community, providing a sustainably focused development linking Kuala Lumpur to the rest of the wider region.
The vision is to create a sustainable development that is transit orientated and encourages creative enterprises, tourism and destination shopping. The ultimate aim is to position KL as a global business hub and Bandar Malaysia as the new gateway to the city.
The proposals include the creation of ‘the Gateway District’ around the high speed rail station, with the inclusion of landmark buildings and vibrant public spaces. When bringing a vision like this to life it is essential that a place is created where people want to live and visit. It has to integrate with the environment and lifestyle that people have and also aspire to.
With our designs for Bandar Malaysia we have integrated a public park which includes a new national library, café, waterfront promenade, water sports and a world class performance venue. Together, they will create an attractive proposition for both tourists and locals and help to build a community feel. This new city park will create a welcome to the city.
This wider experience, which considers the routes people take to access facilities as well as the community’s social needs, is just one example of how urban areas can successfully integrate transport solutions with the wider requirements of the people that will live there.
We are moving into an era of smart cities which fully consider the health, wellbeing, security and mobility of the people they are designed for. The challenge for master planners is to deliver designs that fulfil these needs and leave space for future developments as the make-up of the world’s cities continues to evolve.
Key TOD considerations
- Design to the context – one size doesn’t fit all!
- Stations become the gateways to the community creating lasting impressions – focus on design quality
- Minimise walking distance to transport interchange
- Create an appropriate density for the location
- Ensure close proximity to community facilities, e.g. healthcare, education, childcare, retail, leisure
- Maximise commercial opportunities including work place, retail and leisure uses.
- Connect to a broader transport network and quality public transport offer including cycle and pedestrian networks
- Adopt SMART travel systems and new technologies to encourage behavioural change
- Create a safe and secure environment
- Create a high quality, connecting public realm