Giving Kuala Lumpur an iconic identity

The iconic stone marker with the numerical ‘0’ along Jalan Raja. — Photos: LOW LAY PHON & IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/The Star

KUALA Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) is giving a reason to out-of-towners to visit the country’s capital city, also known as the Garden City of Lights, by creating a series of boundary markers.

It hopes the markers themselves will become a tourist attraction.

The project, currently still on the drawing board and dubbed “Kuala Lumpur Boundary Markers”, is set to start this month.

It involves creating iconic landmarks using elements such as signposts, trees, pylons, boundary stone markers, street art and even murals that will mark the city borders.

“The moment you enter Kuala Lumpur, there will be a significant change in the landscape and ambiance surrounding the area or even along the route to the city centre.

“We want road trippers coming from different states to feel the change in scenery and mood the moment they enter the city boundaries,” said mayor Datuk Seri Mahadi Che Ngah.

He said people who had not visited the city before would know right away when they entered Kuala Lumpur territory by just looking at the landscape and vegetation around the area.

The project, he said, was a collaboration of all departments as it involved planning, infrastructure and landscaping.

“When you visit different parts of the world, each city has its unique charm and set of characteristics that are reflected in their boundary markers,’’ he noted.

“Take for example the Route 66 sign in the United States, which is so iconic that people stop and take photos of the signage.

“Other similar markers are the Hollywood Hills sign (US), the Selamat Datang monument in Jakarta (Indonesia), the border marker in Lloydminster in Saskatchewan (Canada), the Penny Lane sign in Liverpool (England) and Seoul’s LED signage in South Korea.

“They are all the unique markers of the respective cities that make them special,” he said.

Mahadi elaborated that Kuala Lumpur borders would be the entry gateway where trees of a specific species would be planted along the roads leading into the city.

“Structures like pylons, which are permanent fixtures, will be given a new look whereby anyone who sees them will immediately know that they are unique to Kuala Lumpur.

“Other structures that can add charm to the city include sculptures, clock towers, (stone) boundary markers, road markings, murals, sidewalks, crossroads, road kerbs, columns, street arts, kinetic light installations, LED font signage and even a specific colour choice will be utilised for the markers that will give the city a vibrant look,” he added.

The project, said Mahadi, would involve the whole of Kuala Lumpur’s boundary spanning 103.3km.

Forest around the city

For now, 15.67km of the boundary have been identified for the tree-planting programme that will line the borders of the city.

DBKL has identified several local species ideal for the border planting initiative.

Mahadi said the species shortlisted were Shorea roxburghii (meranti temak nipis), Hopea odorata (merawan siput jantan), Agathis borneensis (damar minyak), Tristaniopsis obovate (pelawan merah), Cratoxylum formosum (mampat/geronggang), Diospyros penangiana (kayu arang), Syzygium grande (kelat jambu laut) and Lepisanthes alata (perupok).

“We hope that once a (tree) species is identified for a specific area, only that species will be planted in that spot for uniformity and standardisation, in terms of height and width,” he said.

Twenty-three areas have been identified for the green border programme. These include main roads, crossroads, parallel roads, highway, flyover and pedestrian bridges with welcome signs.

Among the streets identified for this programme are Jalan Metro Perdana and Jalan Besar (Kepong), Jalan Impian Indah (Bukit Jalil), Jalan PBS 14/2 (Mimos Tech Park), and Jalan Desa Cheras, Jabatan Perhilitan (Cheras).

Colour the streets

An integral part of the project is incorporating street art in the city, including bringing colour to sidewalks, crossroads, kerbs, columns and pillars.

“We already have some beautiful murals in Kuala Lumpur, but we want to bring that art to other parts of the city, even on the roads,” said Mahadi, citing the popularity of street art in the Netherlands, Australia and the United States.

“Our previous mural projects have proven to be very popular and have been Instagram sensation, so we are confident that street art is going to be a hit too,” he added.

Welcome gantries

Gateway signs that are usually placed at border entries are important as they welcome visitors to the city.

There are 15 border entries to Kuala Lumpur and many are located on the city outskirts.

Plans are also in the pipeline to build welcome gantries in some areas to give a sneak peak of the city.

“First impressions are important and we want that first experience to be inviting,” said the mayor.

He added that the project would take five years to complete, starting with the borders, while the greening of the borders programme was ongoing.

Source: The Star 

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