Human beings have always wondered how our future will look. Will it be taken over by robots? Will we be surrounded by only concretes and no greenery around? This was a mindset in the past few decades, based on which many movies and books are written based on it. But over time as we learned the importance of nature in our daily life and co-existing with nature is beneficial for human existence.
The BIG’s BiodiverCity project on Penang Island which is of 4,500 acres, is based on the Pengang2030 vision, where the masterplan for Penang South Islands is based on the concept of co-existing with nature. The masterplan aims to create 15,000 to 18,000 residents all together in a mixed-use district of 50 to 500 acres and a buffer space of 50 to 100 meters in each district. This mega project aims to the development of sustainable economic and cultural growth and protecting the nature and coastal zones at the same time.
This masterplan by BIG is the winner of the competition organized by the Penang State government for its South Islands development. Along with BIG, Foster + Partners and MVRDV were among the five finalists but BIG’s masterplan got selected for its ambition to promote the idea of co-existing with nature.
Keeping in a note the large Cultural Diversity and Biological Diversity of the Penang Islands, the BiodiverCity aims to build three islands clusters in three phases and with green, locally available material such as bamboo, Malaysian timber, and green concrete. It also aims to build a car-free environment, the places will be accessed by autonomous public transportation systems which will be safe for the public, and the streets will welcome the bikers and pedestrians.
The first cluster of islands in BiodiverCity is The Channels which will be built in three phases. Phase 1 consists of Active Destinations which include a wave pool and technology park. Phase 2 is the construction of Civic Heart which includes governance and research institutions. Phase 3 is the Cultural Coast which aims to showcase the heritage and culture of Penang’s George Town which will attract local and international people.
The second and the central cluster of islands in Biodiversity is The Mangroves which is dedicated to business which is based on a network of sheltered urban wetlands. The central part of The Mangroves is the Bamboo Beacon which is a place to organize meetings, conferences, and host major events and also a place to broadcast the knowledge to the world developed in the BiodiverCity. It also consists of buildings with green roofs, facades, and will be built with green and local materials.
The third cluster of islands in Biodiversity is The Laguna, which is dedicated to ecological living and the native species will be allowed to flourish in the region. The eight islands of the cluster form a miniature archipelago in which floating, stilled, and terraced housing is made in the natural formation of Tanjung Gertak Sanggul and the islands also act as fisherman’s landing points and also gives access to open water in the region.
BiodiverCity is a challenge to show the world the benefits of co-existing with nature. Though BIG has been criticized for many of its projects BIG have continued to surprise us and they have already accomplished many stunning works such as MAZE in National Building Museum, Copenhill at Copenhagen, etc which shows what we are now capable of and gift our future generation a BIG LEAP (which is also the future name of BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group) to think beyond. BIG is now working on several prestigious projects on different scales among them the largest scale is The Master Planet, planning the resources and demand all over the planet in such a way to become self-sustainable and hope for a greener future. BIG have taken our thoughts and experience in believing—Nothing is Impossible and a step to “pragmatic utopia”.