Nucleus Tower by Arkitek MAA. Image from: PAM

Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia (PAM) celebrates World Architecture Day on 5 October 2020 with architects around the world. The theme for this year’s celebration is ‘Toward a Better Urban Future’. World Architecture Day is celebrated concurrently with the UN World Habitat Day which carries a similar theme ‘Housing for All: A better Urban Future’.

The keywords ‘better urban future’ suggest that architects are in the position to realise this ‘better future’. With the pandemic prompting revolutionary ways in running day to day living and working, architects are hard-pressed to respond to the changes.

But why the importance on urban living when urbanity is the very reason that gave rise to the pandemic? The answer lies in the simple human needs to connect. The United Nations’ World Urbanization Prospects report has advised on the importance of a well-managed urban growth to achieve sustainable development in three key areas which are economic, societal and environmental.

PAM President Datuk Ar. Ezumi Harzani Ismail said, “Covid-19 is not the first, nor will it be the last pandemic in the world. Humans are agile and highly adaptive beings. Despite being faced with several pandemics over the last decade, the numbers are showing increased human adaptability to tackle the problems compared to the biggest and worst pandemic in the early 20th century during the Spanish Flu pandemic which claimed almost 50 million lives”.

“In a nutshell, when designing for future development, the focus on human and mother Earth need to be prioritised to reduce the impact to the environment. The pandemic helps to remind us on the fragility of our planet, but it is not all there is to it. The pandemic will not be the deciding factor,” added Datuk Ezumi.

The creation of urban centres will continue to draw people to cities as they look for vibrant cultural and social surroundings that can foster creativity, offer more opportunities and spur innovation. Designing a space for a better urban future should capitalise on the benefits of urban living such as better infrastructure, high-speed connectivity and transportation linkages.

Thus, when designing for a better urban future, architects are not just reminded to be mindful of that lurking virus but also to keep in mind the bigger picture of human needs, which is to connect and socialise. 

(7 October 2020)