And so Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi launches the masterplan for Patrick Lim’s RM25 billion Penang Global City Centre project on 12 Sept.
They say a picture paints a thousand words. Have a look at these graphics visualising the PGCC, which I am reproducing here from architect firm Asymptote’s website in the public interest
I don’t know about you, but it looks like a soulless alien colony to me – as if a mothership from a distant galaxy has docked at the Turf Club land!
Now, what did the developer say about having 40 per cent green and open spaces?
In a recent NST interview, PGCC master planner Nasrine Seraji was asked what “zero carbon” meant.
She replied: “It means natural light, green buildings, vast parks, clean air, recycling policies and natural ventilation. A better life, a healthier environment.”
Vast parks? Do you see vast parks (see image below)? Looks like the only “vast parks” are those narrow strips of green between rows of building complexes. The 10 hectare one-kilometre-long narrow “Central Park” is just a little bit wider.
Even the “Central Park” will be full of “development” worth RM40 million: “playground, fitness stations, multipurpose outdoor courts, jogging path, children wading pools, garden pavilions and an amphitheatre.” So how much actual, untouched green space will there be left?
Does the 40 per cent include the 24-hectare “Penang Hill Park”, which apparently cannot be developed – and which doesn’t look like it is even in this graphic?
Just so you get your bearings, the road curving from the left of the graphic to the top is the proposed Penang Outer Ring Road (another controversial project!). The road at the bottom right corner is Scotland Road. Jesselton is somewhere at the top right corner. And the half dozen grey buildings on the far left make up the Batu Gantong crematorium and columbarium complex.
It was at this columbarium that I placed the ashes of my late grandma and my late father on two sad occasions over the last several years. How they landed up in a Chinese columbarium is another story but I chose the spot to place their urns precisely because it was peaceful and green and facing lush hills not far away. (Notice how the PGCC architects have left another little green space to separate the crematorium from the rest of the PGCC project, presumably to keep some distance from all the bad, bad fengshui lest it creeps in and eats into the developer’s profits. Hmm, I wonder if having a crematorium next door will affect property prices though. Maybe the crematorium could be turned into a “zero carbon” area too!)
For everything there is a purpose. Now, I am going to request my dear grandma (she was a great admirer of Mahatma Gandhi) and dad, who I know are in the company of God and his angels and saints, to watch over these green spaces. I know they will ask Him to protect these green spaces from greedy developers and to create a Penang State Park as a legacy for future generations of Penangites.
Already, I hear the main Penang NGOs are holding a press conference this Saturday to make public their stand on the PGCC. Stay tuned.