What does Malaysia’s Forest City have in common with the Forest City in Iowa? Or Florida? Or how about the one in North Carolina?
Nothing, except the name.
Today’s top discussion between me and you will focus on the Forest City located in southern Malaysia, near the coast of Johor and just one hour away from the Lion City, as some people call the city of Singapore. This is one of the most courageous and daring constructions mankind has ever undertaken. At least, that is what stood out for me while I was researching this topic.
We are talking today about Country Garden’s newest project – a city built on four man-made islands, located only one kilometre away from the shore of Malaysia, that can house up to 700,000 inhabitants and is built on 1.386 hectares.
“The city within a garden”
This description fits like a palm when we talk about the Malaysian Future City. And it fits in the literal sense since we talk about building facades being covered in greenery, sky gardens, and rooftop gardening systems. It will be a forest-like environment, built to purify the air, conserve rainwater and to diminish noise.
Not that there will be much noise – the surface of the city will be covered in green parks, and recreational areas. There would be no vehicle traversing its surface and the only means of transportation will be suspended railroads, from one point of the island to the another.
Automobiles will exist in the future city, but only underground, for the urban planning of Forest City is actually a 3D multi-layered concept. So it would be something like this: the first level will be the place where people will park their cars, the second one will be the place where you can drive your car, while the third one – and the one on the surface – will be full of green spaces, parks, buildings and recreational facilities.
In terms of environment protection, this could mean very few carbon emissions, clean air, and local biodiversity development – a safe place for citizens.
It is considered a livable environment by its developers, for it is “surrounded by more than 10 km coastline, approximately 2000 acres of mangrove reserve and ecological wetlands.” Moreover, developers describe it as a “smart eco-city”, envisioning it full of “lush vertical greenery with dense foliage.”
In March 2016, it was granted a duty-free status
In terms of economy, Forest City CGPW is estimated to provide 220,000 jobs for Malaysians, especially in sectors like finance and e-commerce. Moreover, it has already attracted investment of $3.2 billion.
Last year, it was declared a duty-free zone, with “a slew of corporate tax incentives offered to qualified companies and developments.” It has also been granted other preferential policies to aid the develop. Furthermore, this status will do nothing but help local residents, businesses and tourists to benefit from the island’s environment.
In December 2016, Malaysian Prime Minister has said that the project “has a huge potential because is propelling the economy and creating jobs, while also helping with tourism and it would also be a boom for manufacturing, high-tech, services and financial sectors.”
It has sparked controversy regarding the sustainability of the project
The development is set for 30 years, with only a small part of one island already being ready and open for visitors. Still, it has been surrounded by controversy, regarding the environmental impact on the marine life.
Locals were concerned by the changes this would bring to what used to be a fishing village, while Singapore’s government has also raised issues about possible transboundary impact – you can find out more about this here.
Citylab.com also wrote an article in which they express their concerns on Forest City becoming one of the many Chinese ghost cities, especially because it is heavily marketed towards the Chinese. They also say that the average Malaysian cannot afford to live in Forest Cities, which sparked rumours that the future city is being built primarily for retired persons, veterans or foreigners.
Let’s wrap it up!
Forest City overcame the controversy and it is going further towards building the dream city of many. So far, over 11,000 houses have already been sold. Also, the benefits it has already brought to the country of Malaysia have done nothing but to assure the feasibility and the success of this project.
Forest City will be the first city of its kind, both in technology and premise. I personally have only one problem: the plastic marine figures that are already scattered on the part of the island that is ready. But that is a matter of personal taste, I am sure I can look past that.
So, the question that is now on everyone’s mind: would you move there?