Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Putrajaya – The Making of a City


As a young capital, Putrajaya may not have the character and soul of the great cities of the world, but it is well on its way there with innovative architecture, community-centric town planning and long term ambitions. In relation to many of Malaysia's other cities like Kuala Lumpur and Melaka, the garden city of Putrajaya is like a new kid on the old block. Granted, it lacks the dramatic history of the former and the age-old culture of the latter but what it has in excess is youthfulness, a modern vision and a spirit to embrace the new.

From crops to city
A walk down its memory lane - or in this case, its landmark 4.2 km-Long Boulevard - may be short but it is filled with many aesthetically-pleasing buildings, parks and bridges. Barely 16 years since its groundbreaking ceremony, Putrajaya, gleaming in the tropical sun today, is a majestic city fitting of its role as the new centre of the Malaysian government.

What you see today is a far cry from the time when the area was known as Prang Besar. Those were the days when rubber and palm oil plantations dominated the terrain.

Building with care
In the following years, the barren landscape sprouted shiny new buildings connected by a wide and impressive boulevard, while around it, a new township complete with schools, shopping malls and residences were built. It's interesting to note that Putrajaya's master plan focused on creating optimum living conditions. For instance, as much as 70 percent of Putrajaya's total area is still green with more being done to reduce carbon emissions and waste products, and to promote cooler outdoor temperatures in the tropical heat.

The Lake District
The lake - its presence too huge to ignore -- has now become the main feature of Putrajaya. It functions both as a recreational area and scenic element, as well as being an environmental filter and cooling system. It's been the venue for high-profile events such as international hot air balloons festivals, flower carnivals, the Le Tour De Langkawi, and international water-ski championships.

As many as eight bridges of majestic architecture were constructed over the lake at various points. These have become scenic backdrops for a variety of television commercials and favorite subject matters of the many photography enthusiasts. Visitors can best enjoy the beauty of the lake, and Putrajaya, via a lake cruise that highlights the many stunning landmarks around.

The garden city
Besides the Wetland Park, there are at least five other major parks in the vicinity. The Botanical Park has a fine collection of plant exhibits in beautifully landscaped grounds featuring 700 species from 90 countries. The Agriculture Heritage Park meanwhile honors the origin of Putrajaya by maintaining an original tract of the Prang Besar rubber plantation including an authentic rubber processing machine and smokehouse. It also cultivates Malaysian fruit trees in its orchards to give visitors a chance to sample local seasonal fruits.

Within the diplomatic enclave lies a man-made dipterocarp forest; what used to be an oil palm estate is now an urban jungle complete with natural streams, walking trails, and horse-riding trails. Two other unique parks within Putrajaya are the Challenge Park, to promote X-Games type recreation, and the Equestrian Park.

Putrajaya may be small in size at only 49 km square (compared to Kuala Lumpur's 243 km square), but it certainly packs in a lot with its mixed development. And while it may be relatively young, it's creating history of its own with landmark architecture, seamless marriage of modernity and nature and its spirit of community.

For more information on Putrajaya, go to www.ppj.gov.my or www.tourismmalaysia.gov.my.

 

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