Low-Cost Flat Housing Design Scheme


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Regardless of hundreds of thousands houses, flats and apartments which have been built over the years, the amount of housing provided especially in the form of flat houses do not meet the demands and needs of housing for the low income groups which end up with housing dissatisfaction. Thus, this term paper is going to prove that typical low-cost flat housing design scheme in our country nowadays is irrelevant due to the number of factors. The research was conducted through library research method by using books, magazines, journals and internet articles.

Primarily, the research has found out that the low-cost flat housing design is irrelevant due to the poor quality in design and construction. Besides, the design also irrelevant as it has set down the importance of comfort level for the inhabitants. Furthermore, it does not provide better environment to enhance communal interaction and integration between neighborhoods. All in all, this paper asserts that the design scheme for low cost flat housing needs to be reviewed in order to cater the housing needs of the low income bracket in our country nowadays. Table of Content Page Number

Abstract……………………………………………………………………………………………2 1. Introduction………………………………………………………………………… ……… 4 2. Arguments 1. To provide quality housing……………………………………………………….. 6 2. To enhance comfort level…………………………………………………………. 8 3. Counter Argument: To nurture community spirit………… ……………………………… 11 4. Conclusion………………………… …………………………………………………….. 13 References………………………….. ……………………………………………………………14 1. Introduction Rapid urbanization has caused a tremendous impact on urban areas in Malaysia in terms of population growth, housing needs, sustainable environment and employment opportunities.

Low-income groups, especially those who lack the needed resources to cope with rapidly changing conditions have particularly felt these effects. In order to provide affordable and decent shelter for the low income groups and to cater the increasing demand of housing in our country, the Malaysian government has introduced low-cost flat housing category to cater the demands of affordable housing. If we look back on the history, the need for formal housing programs in Malaysia was recognized as far back as 1964 during the colonial administration.

The colonial government appointed a committee to study the nature and extent of housing problems and to provide recommendations to overcome housing shortages. One of the recommendations was the establishment of the Housing Trust in 1950. The study group also recommended the separation of the state land at nominal prices, waivers of land premiums and provision of low-interest end-financing. In absence of suitable state land, the government empowered the Housing Trust to buy private land to develop low-cost housing.

With these guidelines, the Housing Trust became fully operational in 1952, marking the beginning of direct intervention by public authorities in the construction of low-cost housing in the country (Ahmad Zakki Yahya, 1997). Continuing this policy, the government has introduced the Public Low Cost Housing Program focusing on multi-storey housing typologies. It is because most of the developers of low-cost houses would prefer high density development to achieve economies of scale and to minimize the land to be set aside for low-cost houses.

As stated in the various five-year Malaysia Plans and the Second Outline Perspective Plan from 1991 to 2000, the objective of the housing policy in Malaysia is to ensure that all Malaysians, particularly the low-income group, have greater access to adequate and affordable shelter and related facilities. Despite the commendable efforts undertaken by the government in this field, there is still apparent problem of low-cost housing particularly in flat housing design scheme.

Based on this perspective, this paper is going to prove that typical low-cost flat housing design scheme in our country nowadays is irrelevant if we want to provide quality housing, to enhance the comfort level and to nurture community spirit. 2. 1 Argument I – To provide quality housing The primary argument that shows typical low-cost flat housing design scheme in our country nowadays is irrelevant is that it has poor quality housing. The housing industry’s role is not just to build houses but also to build quality and decent houses.

Quality housing is a housing that can fulfill the needs of the users. According to Turner (1976), he associated good and quality housing not in terms of ‘what it is, but what it does in people’s lives’ (cited in Parid Wardi Sudin, 1997, p. 829). In other words, the resident’s satisfaction is not necessarily based on the aesthetically pleasant housing but on how it accomplishes the needs of them. In the same article, Prof. Parid Wardi also stated that a study has been carried out by Ahmad (1989) in his unpublished thesis which studies the quality of low-cost houses in Kuala Lumpur.

The objective of the study was to establish whether the damage on buildings such as leakage, cracks and so on are caused by the user or the building itself. From the research, it was found out that most of the damage occurred due to the poor design decisions, poor selection of building materials and also by poor construction. In short, even though the buildings are not occupied by residents, the damage would still have taken place due to the poor quality of the building.

As a result, this situation will lead to a high maintenance cost as it is difficult to maintain various systems to work in good order and there is a chance that the problem will happen again. Based on the problems that have been stated above, bad design has been the major cause of poor quality housing. The residents are aware with the poor quality and they will not tolerate on this issue. As the standard of our life get better, we will expect better quality homes which have better design and better infrastructure.

According to Institute of Strategic and International Studies Malaysia (ISIS), technology plays a significant part in producing more quality housing, increasing the productivity and reducing the costs. It is essential to improve the technologies and building materials used in construction so as to implement more advanced technologies. It is also important to figure out how we can adapt current construction methods to suit our climate and to make house more enjoyable to live in.

In this case, low-cost housing should be constructed in a specific time and cost effective manner as the construction technology used in housing in Malaysia nowadays is generally slow and costly. Modularization of a house into standard parts enables houses to be produced in large numbers and higher quality with savings in design costs. Saving of design costs is a main concern since low-cost houses are mainly for the lower income groups. Thus, designing low-cost flat houses that are pleasant to live in and cost-savings is important in the improvement of the housing quality.

To sum up, typical low cost flat housing in our country nowadays must have a good design scheme, use proper building materials and apply better construction technology to improve the housing quality. 2. 2 Argument 2- To enhance comfort level Another important argument that shows typical low-cost flat housing design scheme is irrelevant in today society is that it has set down the importance of comfort level. As a physical setting, housing is critical for human well being as we spend most of our leisure time at home.

This evidence alone justifies that housing design plays an important role in ensuring comfortability for individuals and communities. Bennett (1977) and Oh (2000) has pointed out that housing design must be visually pleasant and should not create discomfort to users (cited in Yong Razidah Rashid, 2008, p. 17). As United Nations Habitat II Conference secretary-general Dr Wally N’Dow said: Adequate shelter means much more than just having a roof over one’s head. It also means privacy, adequate space and security, a place with which to thrive, the structural ability and durability of a dwelling with proper ighting and ventilation, and with adequate infrastructure for sanitation and waste management (cited in Meenakshi, 1997, p. 732). Therefore, as mentioned above, it is clear that provision of good housing is not just about providing a physical shelter, but it is much more in fulfilling human needs in terms of comfortability, privacy and security. Limitations of spaces, lack of privacy and improper ventilation are some of the complaints raised among residents of the low-cost flat houses.

These cramped flat housing make life miserable especially for households with large families who need bigger spaces. And if we worry about social problems in our country, we have to know that poor condition of living is also contributing to social problems. Mitchell (1971) stated that serious space limitation in housing is a factor that leads to social, psychological and physiological imbalances to the inhabitants (cited in Yong Razidah Rashid, 2008). Allah SWT has said in the Quran: “It is Allah who made your habitations homes of rest and quiet for you. (Quran, Surah an-Nahl: 80). In Islam, the interior spaces of house must be planned to meet with some of the Islamic policies which relate to individual as well as family life. Some of the concerns for designing and planning the interior spaces are to have ample spaces, the placement of bedroom which faces the qiblat, segregation between male and female and so on. Furthermore, the provision of comfortable shelter should also respond to our climate which can be classified as warm-humid equatorial, characterized by high temperatures and humidity.

High temperature, solar radiation, humidity and glare are the main causes of climatic stress in Malaysia. So, to achieve climatic comfort in home, these factors must be controlled. Lim (1997, p. 71) proposed that “to attain optimum climatic control, a houseform should allow adequate ventilation for cooling and reduction of humidity”. We should use building materials with low thermal capacity so that little heat is transmitted into the house. In traditional Malay house, we can see that the use of large overhangs and low exposed vertical areas such as windows and walls do provide good protection against rain.

At the same time, it also provides good shading and allow for adequate ventilation compared to modern houses nowadays which prefer higher and larger exposed vertical areas which often penetrated by direct sunlight and cause discomfort to the inhabitants. Unfortunately, the current design of low-cost flat houses in Malaysia nowadays lack of granting all these important things in providing comfort level to the users. In conclusion, the typical low-cost flat housing should consider adequate spaces to meet the needs of inhabitants and also designed to achieve climatic control in order to enhance the comfort level of its inhabitants. . 0 Counter Argument & Refutation- To nurture community spirit Some people believe that high-rise or flats housing design is not a major factor which affect communal interaction and integration between neighbors which seems to fade away in our today society. For them, interaction between residents can happen anytime and anywhere without the needs of particular time and area. Furthermore, social interaction is about something to do with our society’s mentality. We cannot insist the neighborhood to interact regularly.

Besides, they also believed that most of the developers would prefer such high-density projects like flat housing as it will save cost and minimize the land uses since we are facing land scarcity problem (Ghani Salleh & Choong, 1997). Whilst this position has its own supporters, their arguments are totally indefensible. Nurturing community spirit should be seen as a crucial element that should not be left behind in low-cost flat housing design as it enhances the quality of life.

In this case, traditional Malay house should be seen as the best example in portraying this concept where community intimacy is a preference rather than privacy (Lim, 1997). In traditional Malay house, there is no specific demarcation such as thick party wall, private yard and huge fences which separate the public and private exterior spaces as it integrate into each other. This situation encourages social interaction and integration among the villagers. In addition to that, if we want to adapt the traditional cultural values into a modern context, the ‘kampongminium’ concept (Lim, 1997) can be used as it also promotes community closeness.

The ‘kampongminium’ concept is invented by combining the words ‘kampong’ or village and condominium. As kampong represents the Malaysian way of life and its culture and traditions with emphasizing on community life, it promotes community closeness as the community will be able to share the facilities and amenities which have been provided in their areas. On the other hand, condominium living represent all modern things like modern living room, advanced security system and so on which could not be found in the typical houses.

Thus, the combination of these two invokes a vision of adapting the traditional cultural values into a modern context, creating a great lifestyle. This concept also allows residents to put aside their differences and work as a team which is very important in low-cost housing where people come from all sorts of life and cultures. To add, in housing areas today, people are concerned about deteriorating social ties among its residents. Social ties can only be enhanced by providing a place or point of interaction. Community places like playgrounds, parks, plazas, or community halls, tend to bring people together almost on any occasion.

Open courtyards even at a minimum size can be utilized as public or semi-public spaces for social interaction. In this case, the concept of ‘serambi’ (Prof. Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi, 2008) from the traditional Malay house can be implemented as a point of interaction. The term ‘serambi’ means a place where most guests are entertained in a house. He also said that a shelter must have a ‘social serambi’ for community and neighbourhood interaction as family is nothing without the harmony and integration between each others.

Thus, by having this kind of space, we encouraged people to come out and interact to each others. In conclusion, typical low-cost flat housing in our country nowadays should implement a vibrant and integrated housing environment in order to foster community spirit among the residents. 4. 0 Conclusion As we design houses for people to stay in comfortably, the end user especially the low income bracket should be prioritized on whatever decision is being made, especially on the quality, comfort level and integration factors.

The provision of multi-storey housing for the low income group in our country should not disregard the above factors. With the development of intelligent cities and high technology of construction, houses for low-income groups in the future should be at par with the development. Besides, the guidelines on the layout planning, provision of private spaces and climatic control should be applied together with other building laws and regulations in order to enhance the comfort level of its inhabitants.

In addition to that, the low-cost flat housing area should be well-integrated between residents and their environment as it will creates a ‘muhibbah’ or harmony society. Furthermore, it is recommended that the term ‘low-cost housing’ to be changed to ‘social housing’ which strongly suggests the important values of social responsibility and social caring. It is strongly suggested that the Housing Developers Association Malaysia (HDA) to develop alternative designs and open systems for modular and prefabricated social housing units for the low-income groups as it is a cost and time-saving technology.

Other than that, there are a lot of possibilities for improvement in terms of upgrading the quality of low-cost flat housing design scheme. What remains is only the task of translating this call into action! 5. 0 References Ahmad Zakki Yahya (1997). Government housing policies and incentives: The government viewpoint. In Housing the nation: A definitive study. Malaysia: Cagamas Berhad. Al-Quran, Surah An Nahl: 80. Ghani Salleh, & Choong, L. C. (1997). Low-cost housing: Issues and problems. In Housing the nation: A definitive study. Malaysia: Cagamas Berhad.

Institute of Strategic and International Studies Malaysia (1997). Selected issues in housing development and recommendations. In Housing the nation: A definitive study. Malaysia: Cagamas Berhad. Lim, C. S. (1997). Housing and the environment: A planner’s perspective. In Housing the nation: A definitive study. Malaysia: Cagamas Berhad. Lim, J. Y. (1997). The Malay house: Rediscovering Malaysia’s indigenous shelter system. Malaysia: Institut Masyarakat. Meenakshi, R. (1997). Housing and the concern of consumers. In Housing the nation: A definitive study. Malaysia: Cagamas Berhad.

Mohd. Tajuddin Mohd. Rasdi (2008). The development of the WPI: Harmony, sustainability and survivability of building design and city planning. In ‘A’ for architecture alternative book: Design thesis folio. Malaysia: Penerbit UTM Press. Parid Wardi Sudin (1997). International experience III: Low-cost housing. In Housing the nation: A definitive study. Malaysia: Cagamas Berhad. Yong Razidah Rashid. (2008). Housing dissatisfaction perceived by the residents of PPR Sg. Bonus , Setapak, Kuala Lumpur. ( Doctoral dissertation, International Islamic University Malaysia).


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