Transformation of Malaysian Cities: from Colonial Cities to the Products of Neoliberal Globalistion

The Architect Magazine 1 (Reboot):226-233 (2021)
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In the last two decades, major cities in Malaysia have witnessed a spate of urban redevelopment including commercial and retail complexes, and residential estates. The current urban transformations taking place in Malaysian cities are mainly market-driven and characterized by fast-track development with a strong priority on the road infrastructure. This is a typical example of an intensive property-led development that is becoming a central driver of the national economy. This article provides a deeper understanding of the complexity of urban development in Malaysia. Here, the major aim is to understand the Malaysian cities' transitions in the trajectory of their colonial past, national identity, multi-cultural community, culture, and religion. Focusing on South East Asian urbanism, this article determines how internal and external forces and global trends such as neoliberalism and property-led development affect the transformation of urban landscapes and expansions in Malaysia. The outcomes of this paper will indicate how much property-led development and globalisation have affected the traditional and tropical climate-responsive urban environment in Malaysia. It will also identify sustainable design and planning measures that should be implemented in the cities of Malaysia to combat the ill-effects of globalisation.

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Asma Mehan
Texas Tech University


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