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BACHELOR OF SCIENCE (HONOURS) IN ARCHITECTURE

THEORIES OF ARHICTECTURE & URBANISM

PROJECT: LIFE BETWEEN BUILDINGS: USING PUBLIC SPACES


PART 2: A COMPARITIVE ANALYSIS ESSAY

NAME: KOOI YONG KAI


ID: 0323152
TUTOR: MR. NICHOLAS NG
Project 1 Part 2: Comparative Analysis Essay

The following essay is the comparison between Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Kuala
Lumpur and Da Shi Lar, Beijing. Analysing the different occurrences of social activities on
contact points with relatively similar features, and the varying contact intensities. Following
will be an introduction to the 2 sites.

Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Kuala Lumpur started as a tin mining site back in the late
1900s. In which the emergence of shophouses on Jalan TAR was to accommodate tin miners
working at the time, hence shophouses began growing in numbers. After Malaysias
independence, an economic surge was experienced by Jalan TAR leading into its golden age.
which at the time was known as the Grande Dame of Kuala Lumpur. However, that was
merely the beginning of the mass development that was to come, rapid high-rise buildings
invaded the lands and old shophouses demolished to accommodate these high rises. This
causes the centre of Jalan TAR, series of shophouses being surrounded by these high-rise
buildings.

As seen in the nolli plan in figure 1.10 and 1.11, it can be seen that several shophouses
allows a two-way entry from both sides either from Jalan TAR or from Lorong TAR. In which
Lorong TAR is a pedestrian orientated back lane catering informal stalls and their small
businesses, it particularly becomes very busy when there is a night market during weekend
nights. Hence shops or functions on the side can be enjoyed by users at a steady pace in
comparison with Jalan TAR, which is a very vehicular orientated street. The heavy traffic
along Jalan TAR creates an inconvenience for users and blurs connectivity from one row of
shops to the opposite, hence the street itself becomes an edge or a boundary of restriction
to users on the site.

Many side lanes also exists acting to connect different districts together in order to allow
circulation towards different layers of districts, from the commercial Jalan TAR to the
residential Jalan Masjid India. Blurring the boundaries between and connecting the districts,
side lanes become an important aspect linking the districts to one another.
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Figure 1.10 Nolli Plan of Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Kuala Lumpur

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Figure 1.11 Nolli Axonometric Showing Separation of Districts

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The Dashilan District is located at the southwest of Tiananmen Square, it is one of the
largest and most intact historical/ cultural block near the city centre. According to the Beijing
city master plan, Dashilan are belongs to one of the 25 protected historical and cultural
zones. Its area spanning about 126 hectres, with the districts population at 25,000.

Being the epitome of Beijings culture, essence and origin. It was the most important
commercial centre in Beijing during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, retaining the urban texture
and neighbourhood pattern since the Jin Dynasty. Dashilan witnessed the formation and
development of Peking Opera, causing many grandmasters, dignitaries, artists as well as
commoners to gather in this place. Being awarded the first Chinese Heritage Gathering
Area, Dashilan is also the cultural capital of China, adjacent to the Liulichang District, giving
rise of books, newspaper, and publishing industry. Whereas the urban sprawl of Da Shi Lar
can be seen in figure 1.20.

For the study of comparison, two streets within Dashilan district was chosen, which is
Ying Tao and Tie Shu Byways seen in figure 1.21. The two byways are the few main streets
within the district, with many intersections leading the secondary streets or side lanes. The
usage of side lanes and back lanes are also prominent within the area, it acts as a shortcut
when travelling between streets. Whereas back lanes are primarily privatised for daily
necessary activities.

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Figure 1.20 Urban Sprawl of Da Shi Lar, Beijing

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Figure 1.21 Ying Tao and Tie Shu Byways

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The first comparison will be between a contact point on Tie Shu street and a contact
point on a main street, side lane intersection located on Jalan TAR. Both chosen contact
points belong to the commercial tourist district, with the existence of tourism activities such
as hotels and commercial buildings being present on the site. Figure 2.1 and figure 2.3 shows
illustrations off the site while figure 2.2 and 2.4 are photos of the site itself. Seen in photos
and illustrations, the most obvious differences between the 2 commercial districts is the level
of pedestrian orientated streets on Tie Shu Street whereas Jalan TAR is more of a vehicular
orientated street. This is because Jalan TAR is one of the main streets connected to Kuala
Lumpurs historical sites and everything else, hence creates a boundary restricted clear
movement between apposing commercial activities, users are forced to look for and to use a
zebra crossing, creating a constant necessary activity within the street of Jalan TAR.

Figure 2.1 Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman Contact Point 1 Illustration

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Figure 2.2 Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman Contact Point 1

On Jalan TAR, the vast open space in front of the hotel and commercial block creates
opportunities for optional activities between user and shop owners. Besides that, it is
experienced on site that social activities often occur between shop owners as stalls are
located close to one another, creating opportunities for social activity. In the hot and humid
climate, the 5-foot walkway provides shading, attracting users to use the 5-foot walkway, this
creates an optimal space and opportunities for optional activities to occur. This creates a
visual significance on the commercial shophouses, as people attract people, people are
generally attracted towards the shophouses.

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Figure 2.3 Tie Shu Street Contact Point 1 Illustration

Figure 2.4 Tie Shu Street Contact Point 1

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On the other hand, Tie Shu Street features a much narrower pedestrian orientated
street, creating a more intimate connection between opposing functions, eliminating the
boundaries. Besides that, there is also a lack of a defined walkway such as the 5-foot walkway
seen on Jalan TAR storefronts, this creates an unclear zoning of urban space which disrupts
walking experience of pedestrians. Cars or obstructions placed directly in front of storefronts
decreases opportunities for optional activities on storefronts to occur. However, the
pedestrian oriented street allows activities to occur on street level itself. Hence these streets
will be where optional activities and necessary activities occur.

In conclusion, the two contact points share relatively similar functions, however the
streetscape typologies defer from one another. Jalan TAR features a vehicular oriented
street, where spaces for activities to occur are by the defined pedestrian pathways on the
side and the 5-foot walkway. Whereas, Tie Shu Street features a narrow street, which is much
more pedestrian oriented, replaces the need for a defined pedestrian walkway for activities
to occur. Activities then occur on the street, however the differences are that the interaction
between streets and storefronts are much weaker on Tie Shu Street due to obstructions on
the storefront.

The second contact points of both sites chosen is a major node, also a major street
intersection on site. The chosen contact points on Jalan TAR is the intersection around SOGO,
where on Da Shi Lar is on Ying Tao Street. Seen in figure 2.5 and 2.8 are illustrations of the
site, whereas figure 2.6 and 2.9 are photographs of the site. Seen in the illustrations, both
sites feature a vast open pedestrian oriented space around the intersection, where the space
becomes a place of interaction and where people meet.

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Figure 2.5 Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman Contact Point 2 Illustration

Figure 2.6 Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman Contact Point 2

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As seen in figures 2.5 and 2.6, the contact point features a vast open space right up in
front of SOGO shopping mall. The open space is one of the frequently used routes when
entering and leaving Jalan TAR, as it connects to a nearby bus stop as well as an LRT station.
The common path used by office workers, stall owners, tourists becomes a meeting point of
people from different backgrounds, as this common path of necessary activity forms high
contact intensity. Moreover, informal activities such as pop up food stalls may appear, selling
food by the streets, encouraging optional activities to occur on the street. Besides that, the
space at night becomes an informal performance stage, where people would perform music
by the streets while people would sit on the steps, forming an informal outdoor theatre as
seen in figure 2.7. This causes social activities to occur as well as encourage additional
optional activities to occur as well on site.

Figure 2.7 Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman Contact Point 2 at Night

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Figure 2.8 Ying Tao Street Contact Point 2 Illustration

Figure 2.9 Ying Tao Street Contact Point 2

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The intersection on Ying Tao Street is a commercial meeting point connecting 3 other
different neighbourhoods, and the contact point in between acts as a meeting point where
people from different neighbourhoods gather. While it is a place of gathering, it is also a path
used by users when travelling from one neighbourhood to another, hence necessary
activities occur. The contact point consists of restaurants and convenience stores with
informal stalls situated on storefronts, and while it is a pedestrian oriented street, the street
encourages pedestrian activity and is used to perform social activities as well as encourage
optional activities for passer-bys from occurring, creating a high contact intensity contact
point.

Both chosen contact points feature vast open spaces catering various social and
optional activities. However, time of usage may vary on the different sites, due climate
conditions which may affect the spacial qualities of the space. For example, the constant hot
and humid climate of Jalan TAR creates an unsuitable space for activities to be carried out, as
there is no effective shading on site. Hence, activities are often operational only during the
night on contact point 2 of Jalan TAR. Whereas, yearly temperatures in Beijing ranges from
-6oC to 30oC, hence activities can still be carried out throughout the year in comfortable site
conditions.

The third contact point is another intersection on Ying Tao Street and the back lanes
of Jalan TAR, Lorong TAR. The similarities of both sites are that both features stalls with high
interactions with the street, with shops extending onto street level interacting with passer-
bys. Pedestrian oriented streets in these open spaces hence encourages pedestrian activity
such as social and optional activities to occur at a high rate. Following shows illustrations and
photographs of the two comparing contact points.

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Figure 2.10 Lorong TAR Contact Point 3 Illustration

On Lorong TAR, informal stalls situate themselves on the back of commercial stalls,
forming a bazaar typology on the back lane. Besides that, some shophouses feature front and
back entrances allowing clear circulation through the building from the main street to the
back lane. This encourages and allows social interaction to occur between workers, passer-
bys and shoppers equally, increasing interaction intensity, opportunities, and also attract
people into the street as people attract people. In some cases, along the back lane, it is also
seen that restaurants mamak often extend their businesses onto the street level, forming
secondary seating as well as encourage optional activities, inviting people to gather around
this resting space and hence increasing the contact intensity of the space. Although the
street is unshaded and the lacking of 5-foot walkways, the shophouses of different heights
offer sufficient shading onto the street which often leads the user to walk under shaded
areas. It is during the night, that the liveliness of the bazaar begins, where more stalls start to
set up and the number of people start to increase. It is during the bazaar at night which the
contact intensity of the site is at its peak.

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Figure 2.11 Ying Tao Street Contact Point 3 Illustration

Figure 2.12 Ying Tao Street Contact Point 3

As for Ying Tao Street, similarly to Lorong TAR where activities are extended onto the
pedestrian oriented street, forming spontaneous contacts developed between passer-by and

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workers. Besides that, secondary seating are placed outside of stores acting as a resting
place, inviting people to gather around that space. The street also acts as a point of travel
from one neighbourhood to another or towards the south where the commercial district sits,
causing necessary activities to constantly occur on the site, while giving opportunities for
optional activities to happen. Hence, the primary contact of the street is between worker and
passer-bys, where optional activities will occur the most. And with resting spaces,
encouraging social activities to occur.

The two contact points share very similar contact characteristics, which is the
interaction between passer-bys and workers. As well as the existence of a well pedestrian
oriented street, creating a much higher opportunity for high intensities of contact to occur.
The primary differences of the street is the existence of mass informal stalls being present, all
stores appear to be formally owned, unlike in Lorong TAR where informal stalls set up as they
please along the street. The existence of these informal stalls may not be good, however it
creates a much more intimate social interaction among users if it may occur.

In conclusion to this comparative analysis, the key differences of Jalan Tuanku Abdul
Rahman and Da Shi Lar is their differences of streetscapes, the pedestrian oriented
streetscape of Da Shi Lar allows a higher contact intensity as pedestrian contact can occur on
a street level. While Jalan TAR is more vehicular oriented, which acts as a restriction to the
level of contact intensity, as it may only occur on defined walkways such as 5-foot walkways
on storefronts. Of course, the existence of defined pathways is due to the lack of pedestrian
pathways, in which the streets of Da Shi Lar does not require due to its low traffic density.
Pedestrian are allowed to walk on the street with vehicles together. Hence contact activities
can occur on a street level, a much larger space compared to 5-foot walkways of Jalan TAR.

However, there are some areas such as Lorong TAR and open areas which allows
interactions on a street level, which with the harsh climates of Malaysia discourage activities
to occur hence it all takes place during the night, when conditions are much more
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comfortable for usage, allowing contact activities to occur. Da Shi Lar on the other hand, does
not experience harsh temperatures, allows interactions to carry out comfortable even
without the need of shading. Hence, the two sites are very similar, but is different due to the
different climates, cultures, and behaviours which affect the levels of contact intensities and
in which how they are occurred.

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References

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Gehl, J. (2011). Life between buildings: using public space. Washington, D.C.: Island press.

Gehl, J., & Gemze, L. (2004). Public spaces - public life. Copenhagen: Danish Architektural
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Map.qq.com - QQ . (n.d.). Retrieved June 26, 2017, from


http://www.bing.com/cr?IG=C440E36C760F4357BF02338C82BE58BC&CID=0D9EEC8
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