URBAN BEAUTY: The iconic “Township of the Arts” developed by I&P Group is leading the way in utilising arts to beautify while at the same time educating the public on arts appreciation
Usually, street art such as graffiti and murals have often been used within the context of reviving public properties and heritage buildings; promoting tourism and cultivating an appreciation of the arts among the public. For example, the Melaka River Art Project involving murals on old shophouses and the KUL Sign Festival highlighting graffiti at the Klang River banks. Both have been successful in promoting tourism and creating awareness for the arts.
Now, even property developers are getting into the act of using arts such as graffiti and murals as an integral part of its residential projects.
Alam Impian, or “Township of The Arts”, in Shah Alam is a pioneering example of embedding artistic elements into the concept of a residential development.
Developed by I&P Group Sdn Berhad, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB), Alam Impian offers homes within a very distinctive artistic setting. This concept features art pieces installations in designated areas, landscape and street art, graffiti, murals and even an art gallery to engage its residents and visitors in arts appreciation and activities. We talk to Datuk Ir. Jamaludin Osman, Group Managing Director of I&P Group Sdn Berhad on his company’s venture into an iconic Township of The Arts.
RED: How did the idea for Alam Impian “Township Of The Arts” come about?
JO: I&P needed something that was different and distinctive. Everyone in the industry was talking about being eco-friendly. We felt that the themes of “green” and “environment” are becoming too common. Besides, most people already expect these green features as standard in any sizeable development and we wanted to explore something more unique to provide added value to the overall experience.
The arts is something which anyone can relate to regardless of age and background. It is something very wide, ranging from music, movies, literature, fine arts, performance arts and et cetera. With that in mind, we adopted the idea of Township of The Arts (TOTA) for Alam Impian.
RED: Is it the first township of its kind?
JO: Yes. We believe we are the first.
RED: Is there an overall connecting theme or concept to the art pieces, landscape and street art, graffiti walls, art gallery etc?
JO: The arts is very subjective. There is no single connecting theme or concept in our implementation
of Alam Impian. We have deliberately
left them open for interpretation so that the public will repeatedly view them and have their own take on the artistic experience.
RED: What are the main objectives of these artistic features and settings?
JO: Amongst the objectives are beautification, interaction between human and the arts, and promoting arts as a lifestyle.
RED: Who are some of the artists involved in creating them?
JO: The graphics on the graffiti walls, landscape and rock sculptures were the works of final year students from a nearby university. They were commissioned to express their creativity in the township as part of their final year projects. They were given the opportunity to express their design ideas and in the process gain some actual industrial experience on project management
and material planning.
The latest addition of the ‚Stonehenge‘ sculpture and the terracotta eight-foot high figures were commissioned to an art specialist. In addition to that, an area of 2,448 sq ft has been allocated for the township‘s art gallery. It is located next to the Alam Impian Sales Gallery office featuring local art works and art-related consultancy services.
The gallery is currently being managed by a group of local artists.
RED: How do you see the arts serving the residence of Alam Impian? Is it purely aesthetics or is there any functionality related to the artistic elements of the township?
JO: It is meant to be both artistic and functional. These facilities will serve the public. For example, there is an open air amphitheatre that can be used for various types of artistic performances.
The aesthetics of the graffiti and other artistic elements are for the people to enjoy as well.
RED: Graffiti in Europe and America, for example, has been accepted as a genuine artform. In Asian countries such as Malaysia,
they are often associated with vandalism of property. How can we change this perception?
JO: We can change this perception if the subject matter and context of the graffiti is meaningful and practical so that the public at large can appreciate
RED: Do you view the application of arts such as street art and graffiti walls in townships such as Alam Impian adds to the property price and value in any way (short or long term)?
JO: Yes. Anything that is aesthetically pleasing and serves a purpose will help in some way to add value to the township and the project.
RED: Do you view the application of arts such as street art and graffiti on buildings/property/structures potentially adds any historical value or perhaps is beneficial to tourism?
JO: Yes. We think that graffiti and murals, and other artistic features that can potentially be unique and interesting could help in promoting tourism. For example, some of these places will be interesting spots for tourists to take photographs.
RED: How is the response from the public for the Township of The Arts?
JO: It has been very encouraging. We have received tremendous positive feedback from the public.
RED: Do you see the arts as playing a more prominent role in developing urban landscaping and townships in Malaysia?
JO: We definitely hope so. We think art has a critical role to play in townships in Malaysia. It can be a core element in urban township planning.
RED: Does I&P see itself as playing a leading role in using the arts as an innovative element in developing residential areas?
JO: Yes. We hope I&P can continue to develop ideas related to the arts and lead the way in using arts in urban township planning.