OUTDOOR DELIGHTS: A modern interpretation of the outdoor room
The Putrajaya Floria 2012 ended last week and brought a close to my weeks of hard work. The festival is an effort to showcase Malaysia's landscaping and horticulture industry to an international audience and has been an annual attraction in Putrajaya since 2007.
This year's theme flower is the Bougainvillea, a plant that is very easy to care for and comes with many beautiful colours, making it ubiquitous in Malaysia and common in many parts of the world. In a way, the Bougainvillea is almost as much a part of our Malaysian garden identity as many of the design cues I have incorporated over the years into the Malaysian garden concept.
What makes something Malaysian then?
Over the years we have had various clashes with our neighbours about some of the culture heritage. Be it over musical instruments, food or songs, Malaysia always ends up being the “punching bag” when making claims to our heritage.
Everything we touch seems to have come from elsewhere and belongs to our neighbours. Being the melting pots of culture seems to warrant such a response by default.
Take for example the Rumah Perak or Rumah Melaka, each has its own distinct style, each is uniquely Malaysian yet distinctly apart. How then do we interpret the Malaysian house? We, together with our neighbours, are nations trying to stamp our respective identities, and it is only natural for us to meet with some problems en route to sorting ourselves out.
We are but kids going through the pains of the teenage years that will pave the way into adulthood. Only after adolescence (adults with less sense) do they become adults with sense. There will be no bickering once we mature.
Imagine that you are a skilled tailor trying to establish your brand and cut. What you would need to do is to research and come up with an original piece that you can put out to the market. It will become your signature cut when everyone
accepts it, pretty much the same way with our cultural identity. At the end of the day, it still boils down to plain old hard work in searching and branding ourselves.
Remember that it is actually normal to borrow and incorporate, people do it all the time. Entire cultures have been built upon the foundation of others and flourished into their own. It has happened many times in history and will happen many times in the future.
Flowering in Putrajaya: Terra Garden is honoured to be tasked by Putrajaya Holdings to design and create their concept garden during Putrajaya Floria 2012. I am particularly excited about this project as the direction is something very close to my heart; a modern interpretation of the outdoor room.
Readers of my column in RED should know by now the level of emphasis I place on the functionality of the garden.
In fact I often say that it is downright wasteful not to make the best use of that piece of land that one would most likely have spent a considerable sum of money buying.
Modern living places too much focus on indoor living and some owners even went so far as to install AV room, pool table, or game room in their house. Make no mistake, I love the indoors as much, but what we are trying to show is there are many things we could do outdoors too. In a way, it is very much like the yin and the yang and the balance we all try to strike in various aspects in our lives.
Putrajaya Holdings wanted to show how three generations can enjoy the outdoor room together and to encourage family togetherness – arguably one of our strongest cultural values as Asians.
Outdoor activities bridge the gap between children, parents and grandparents.
Everyone is close to Mother Nature and down to earth.
The developer’s initiative to spend the time and effort to promote this type of culture will definitely lead to a change and improvement of the standards of living. For years, I have seen many developers who are unconcerned with the wellbeing of their residents come and go, and for years I have seen developers willing to go that extra mile grow from strength to strength.
People might not know what they want if they have never had a wonderful experience with nature and developers are the trendsetters and should lead the charge to be closer to nature. Promote the culture by designing and building houses that can help create awareness. It takes effort and initiative to change a culture and having the developer do it is one of the best ways forward.
That said, readers wishing to get their grandparents or children embracing the great outdoors immediately can try the following ideas.
Grandparents typically stay out of the garden because squatting down to get to the flowers is a nightmare on their knees. Why not bring the flowers to them instead? You can get specially made frames or a bench to place potted plants within easy reach of the elderlies.
To encourage children, try installing a hammock in your garden. There is just something enticing about a hammock and the sense of adventure that it brings which makes it irresistible whether you are seven or 70. The calm surroundings and closeness to nature make it a great place for a nap to re-energise after a long day.
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