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Architect's vision of an idyllic Penang


PARADISE: A university lecturer shares his views on making the island a top place to live in the world

BALIK PULAU: PENANG has the potential to be the top place in the world to learn, live, work, play, farm and heal, a Singaporean  lecturer and architect said recently.

Prof Tay Kheng Soon, who is an adjunct professor at National University of Singapore's (NUS) school of architecture, said that Penang is the paradise that Singapore lost.

"The kind of stresses that we have in Singapore, Penang does not have. You have the countryside, mountains and hills, which we do not have in Singapore.

 "The question is, what are you going to do with that?

My point is, Penang can be the number one place to learn, live, work, play, farm and heal, and Balik Pulau is the strategic centre of this movement," he said in a public lecture entitled Green Economy, Green Living: The Paradox of Modernisation and Rubanisation here recently.

Present were Balik Pulau member of parliament Yusmadi Yusoff, state Town and County Planning, Housing and Art committee chairman Wong Hon Wai, several Penang Island Municipal Councillors (MPPP) and other stakeholders.

Tay, who believes in a balance of the rural and urban living, said a "rubanised settlement" (rural urbanised) is moving towards to a high-technology inter-connected lifestyle and economy, and not going back to the mud and the grime.

"People can have choices to either live in cities, or in rubanised settlements, or both," he said.

In giving an example of a rubanised settlement, Tay said the settlement should be one kilometre in diameter, with different density, as well as varied mix of rural and urban settings."

He said the settlements can have different building designs and are always accommodating to suit different lifestyles.

Tay said: "With the Internet and inter-connectivity, we have choices, we do not have to work in isolation.

"Factories, especially the light industries, do not have to be concentrated in large, industrialised areas. They can be decentralised.

"By networking, using transport links and logistics, we can organise it very well," he said.

When asked on a model for Balik Pulau, Tay said an ideal model would be medium density, two to three-storey buildings clustered together in a rubanised settlement, with farming, small industries, small businesses and good schools.

A view of Balik Pulau. Pic by Ramdzan Masiam

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