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By NG PAU LING
Malaysian Landscape Architecture Awards recognise outstanding contributions
URBAN sprawl and high-rise living have given landscape architecture more relevance today as people look out for greenery in the concrete jungle. The rooftop garden, vertical garden, community park and green spaces have become increasingly important to those seeking a sustainable and quality living.
But landscape architecture is more than just planting of greenery for beautification and decoration purposes – it has to address the aspects of functionality, identity and community engagement.
This is the challenge for the Institute of Landscape Architects Malaysia (ILAM), which was founded in 1981 to advance the landscape industry and contribute to a greener nation.
A milestone for MLAA
This year, ILAM celebrates the 10th anniversary of its Malaysia Landscape Architecture Awards (MLAA). The awards recognise the contributions of outstanding landscape architecture consultancy firms, developers, researchers, students, contractors, suppliers, government agencies, the media and individuals at home and abroad.
Two new categories have been introduced, namely International Entry for the Professional Category and Landscape Supplier or Manufacturer Category.
“Previously MLAA focused on local projects. This year the awards go international to raise the overall quality,” ILAM president Dr Osman Mohd Tahir said in a recent interview.
The new category for suppliers and manufacturers will showcase and promote green landscape products.
“After 10 years of MLAA, we noticed a significant improvement in the local landscape architecture industry with new trends and quality ideas coming in every year,” said Dr Osman.
Modern landscape emphasises the user experience and places functionality at the centre of any design activity.
“The new trend of landscape architecture is about reflecting the character and identity of the location. It bestows a sense of belonging, thus creating an inviting environment where people can enjoy – an active play area for all ages,” Dr Osman explained.
Green connector in the city
Apart from physical infrastructure such as the public transport system that connects one place to another, Dr Osman reckons that landscape is the "green connector" which helps to improve access to outdoor parks and open spaces.
"The implementation of well-designed cycling and jogging tracks, street trees and other landscape features will help to create a safer and pleasant outdoor experience.
"This will eventually shape a more healthy, sustainable and livable city for the well-being of its occupants."
Dr Osman also mentioned that landscape needs to provide solutions for city-related problems such as reducing erosion, pollution and urban heat island (UHI).
“Preserving, reserving and understanding the function and spirit of natural resources such as water runoffs, rivers, wetlands and topography is another focal point in the landscape.
“Weather-related natural disasters have increased in recent years. Designing with nature in mind and respecting the organic form will go a long way in tackling the problem of natural disasters,” said Dr Osman.
Moving forward, ILAM hopes to see more integration between natural elements, innovation and technology. The institute also wants the landscape design to take into consideration the economic feasibility and effective execution of the development.
Honours for industry's best
MLAA 2017 is organised by ILAM and endorsed by the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA). The awards are open to all project submissions which have not won any previous MLAA Awards. The closing date for submissions is Jan 16, 2018.
Award recipients will be honoured at the MLAA Awards Gala Night to be held on April 21, 2018, in conjunction with the World Landscape Architecture Month celebrations.
Following the awards ceremony, winners will be featured in ILAM’s Bulletin Landskap, the Landscape Architecture Malaysia Yearbook and a special edition in the local press.