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Initiatives and intervention in promoting pedestrianization in the historic city of Melaka, Malaysia

Syed Sobri Zubir and Wan Azhar Sulaiman Department of Architecture Universiti Teknologi MARA Selangor, Malaysia Initiatives and Intervention in Promoting Pedestrianization in the Historic City of Melaka, Malaysia.

Introduction

Today there is much interest in revitalizing historic centres as part of a strategy to improve the quality of urban life and also to promote tourism in Malaysia. Recent urban intervention projects indicate that the success particularly in promoting pedestrianization is questionable (Southworth, 1997). Earlier interventions have been done on an ad-hoc basis without a systemic approach to solve pedestrian related problems on the larger context and without highlighting important network linkages to historic places. Therefore, the overall pedestrian master plan for the historic centre of Melaka seems to be inundated with discontinuous and fragments of pedestrian ways. This is no surprise since the existing infrastructure does not provide the opportunities for street-level interventions without spending large sums of money for improvements. Only in the last five years have efforts to upgrade pedestrian ways by the city council of Melaka been done in an integrated approach. Other than the normal routine of controlling vehicular traffic in the old part of the city, the city council, at present is undertaking a major project in upgrading and improving the quality of the Melaka River and indirectly will improve the riverfront pedestrian system.

Improvements through physical urban design intervention contribute partially to the transactional relationship between pedestrians and their built environment. Existing social and economic activities, urban infrastructure and individual preferences have much to do with attracting people to a particular urban location. Once in that location, the physical and spatial elements will probably have some impact on how people spend their time to appreciate and experience the place. Successful historic urban places have the advantages over recent urban developed areas for they possess an abundance of vestiges that can provide information to the curious minds of the visitors. The historic urban physical form can be an important factor in generating pedestrian movements but requires extensive investigation to determine what constitutes their effectiveness. Often, physical design proposals are based on precedents and assumptions: limited knowledge of the context is available. It is the intention of this paper to question the effectiveness of recent urban design intervention in the historic city of Melaka. An understanding of the role of historical locations in promoting pedestrian experiences of the place needs to be enhanced and linkages to the larger context/network of the city accommodated.

Our study is focused on an area opposite the Stadthuys, comprising many historical landmarks that are popularly visited by local and foreign tourists. Due to the fact that the Stadthuys and

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