Profiles: Meet Shaun and Jeff

At the next instalment of #BetterCities Talk, we have selected topic of “Alternative and Sustainable Transportation in Greater Klang Valley”. The broader issue of sustainable transportation involves a myriad of factors including: amongst others, public transit reliability and infrastructure, fuel prices, cost of vehicle ownership, et. al.

So, what the immediate, practical ways of encouraging alternative and sustainable modes of transportation in our city? #BetterCities invites two speakers to present their projects, which we believe contribute to sustainable transportation in our city. They are Jeffrey Lim, creator of Cycling Kuala Lumpur, Bicycle Map Project, a crowdsourced bicycle route-mapping project to encourage a more cycle-able Kuala Lumpur and Shaun Lim, developer of Orbiting, a ridesharing app to encourage carpooling through social networks, currently on a closed beta release.

#BetterCities spoke to both the speakers, Shaun and Jeffrey to find out more about their projects.

Shaun wrote us an email back in July, expressing intrigue and support for the ethos behind our initiative, from collaborating to improving lives in our city. After an initial meeting, we invited him over to our studio for a sharing session. Since then, we have been keenly waiting for his app, Orbiting, to launch.

#BetterCities: Shaun, why did you start Orbiting?

Shaun Lim (SL): While I am not completely averse to driving, there are certain times and places when I would rather not be driving due to the increasingly congested roads. When stuck in traffic, if you look around, you will notice that the majority of vehicles around you are Single Occupancy Vehicles (SOVs). This would be one of the main causes of traffic congestion. However, all these SOVs on the road are not heading towards entirely unique destinations; many are likely headed towards the same direction if not location. I started Orbiting after thinking about this. Orbiting is a crowdsourced transportation platform linking people travelling towards the same destination or general direction in an attempt consolidate and reduce the number of vehicles on the road.

#BetterCities: What is your objective / goal upon launching Orbiting?

SL: As this requires a change in the mindset of the people, something that can be challenging, I have very modest expectations. In a study back in 2007, it was estimated that the number of SOVs passing through the MRRI and MRRII highways alone were close to 1.7 million daily. This figure is definitely higher today and even higher still when you include other highways. If I could get anywhere close to reducing the number of vehicles by 1% within a 2 year period, I would be happy enough for a start.

#BetterCities: How many beta testers do you currently have?

SL: There are currently close to 100 registered users but the balance in terms of driver-passenger ratio as well the locations people move about in is not quite there at this point in time.


We first met Jeffrey Lim at a weekly city cycling group organised by landscape architect, Ng Sek San, back in 2012. We interviewed Jeff for one of our earliest project, a short documentary profiling different urban cyclists: Tribes. His project, Cycling Kuala Lumpur, Bicycle Map Project will be available for free at the end of 2013.

#BetterCities: How long have you been working on the Bicycle Map project?

Jeffrey Lim (JL): It’s now been over a year since I started the project. The first inkling started in the beginning of 2012, printing out google maps marking routes out. June 16 2012 was when I first started plotting out a study area. That makes it 15 months since initiation.

#BetterCities: What do you hope to achieve with the Bicycle Map project?

JL: The bicycle map was initially started out to be a route planner, sharing suitable cycling routes to any cyclists wanting to get around KL. I hope this project would give us a confidence boost, that we are capable of getting around town on a bicycle. As the project matured, it became more than just a physical map, but a tool, a connecting point. It is becoming a socio map project which is linking up so many different genres of cyclists, advocating and activism. It has become a project connecting the ‘living’ dots of cycling in KL.

#BetterCities: What is the most difficult challenge faced?

JL: It takes an immense amount of man-hours/ work to get it done, a monumental task which I failed to foresee. What seemed like a simple project of just collating routes is turning into a huge complex design job. Designing a base map from scratch to compiling and surveying, promoting and advocating, distribution & production to writing & editing a simple guide to Cycling KL. What was something I did in my spare time is now my full-time occupation. Although I thoroughly enjoy every second of it.


The talk will be happening this Sunday, 13 October, 10:00am – 12:00pm at Genovasi, Lot 2A, Jalan 13/2, Petaling Jaya. For more information, please visit our Facebook event page: http://bit.ly/bctalks3

#BetterCities Talks #2: A Postmortem

As part of their talk series #BetterCities held a postmortem of two of their projects: the first from their own Urban Residency participants and the second presentations from their partner project Junk=ed. Urban Residency was a week-long urban action workshop organised by #BetterCities in George Town, Penang. Urban Residency was done in partnership with The Embassy of Finland Malaysia, George Town World Heritage Incorporated (GTWHI), George Town Festival, Majlis Perbandaran Pulau Pinang (MPPP), Cheah Kongsi and ThinkCity Sdn Bhd.

The workshop brought together nine young architects and designers and two mentors (of architectural background) to propose, design, and construct a courtyard for a community residing and using a back lane in Little India. The exact site is located at a back lane between Lebuh King and Queen.

The second project, #BetterCities x Junk=ed was initiated by #BetterCities in a partnership with Junk=ed (for the April – July 2013 semester) as a part of #BetterCities’s #WhileWeWait bus stop series. #BetterCities x Junk=ed was in partnership with Kyle Yon E and Shyn Cheah, both of whom are lecturers at the School of Architecture, Design and Building at Taylor’s University.#BetterCities was on board as external evaluators and provided micro grants for the students to execute their projects.

Five groups were given five sites (bus stops) in Bandar Sunway/PJS5-6 area, and were tasked to transform these bus stops into better places using materials sourced from junkyards. Junk=ed is an elective course, headed by Kyle Yon E and Shyn Cheah, to transform five bus stops in Bandar Sunway into better places using materials sourced from junkyards. The elective explores the aesthetics of upcycling and usability of unconventional materials.

(photo courtesy of Sharmin Parameswaran)

In the first segment the participants of Urban Residency got intimate with audience revealing their challenges, personal work, and their overall experience in Georgetown. Viewing the project at a glance, gave insight to the real life sentiments that go behind the blend between: space, creativity, and nine designers.

More than the physical labor, it was a revelation to find that the designers had more trouble tackling the actual design. As the saying goes, “too many cooks in the kitchen can spoil the broth” but they came together and made it work. Though at the end a fellow designer, Rebecca Nayagam, had this piece of advice for us: know when to speak up.

As well as understanding how they got the space to work we also learned a little bit about each designer and they have not only a passion for architecture but also community.


“The city is a shared space. We need to figure how spaces can be enjoyed and experienced contextually.” – Alex Lee


Designers like Alex Lee showed an excitement for engaging people in ordinary spaces and finding ways bring playfulness to even the dullest bus stop with color and resourcefulness. According to Alex, “In order to get people to use spaces, they need to be proud of them.” His genuine love for innovation and place is brought out by his pastime of guerilla gardening and his belief in creating your own landmarks is catching. His presentation enabled the audience to recognize that “the city is a shared space. We need to figure how spaces can be enjoyed and experienced contextually.”

It was inspiring and a delight to see how the participants mixed design, creativity, and what one might call spacial activism together. Brian Chee’s multiple takes on how to think or rethink of a chair at bus stops was an inventive lesson on how to take initiative and think big.

After the Urban Residency participants the students from Taylor’s came up to speak about their individual projects under Junk=ed. With what came to be known through a series of laughs their tight budget of RM200 was stretched in inventive and resourceful ways.

With installations of musical pipes to a community board made of exquisite little tiles for locals to express themselves it seems as if Junk=ed as at least sparked these students to think about design and their degrees differently.

More than just being the first time that these Taylor’s students have really had to consider a budget rather than just coming up with ideas on paper, it was also the first time they saw how the public interacted with their design. Their newfound know-how as well as what seemed boundless creativity leads us to think that we have future Urban Residency Participants underway.

The talk was an insightful look on how we can rethink participation, space, and resources. When we start to put time and care into a space it becomes a topic of conversation, a thought to chew on, and our own. This #BetterCities talk series reveals design and creativity are at their best tools to connect us to each other and our community.


Nadia Nadesan hails from Texas and is now based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She currently volunteers at #BetterCities as a videographer, editor and writer. 

A Resolution for a Better City

by Mark Teh

The PopDigital / #BetterCities geng invited me to yak at the last-ever Poskod Talks in December 2012. Sub-themed ‘Farewell and Here’s to the Future’, the idea was to map out the many projects & pilots over the past few years, and present 3-minute resolutions for 2013.  I’m involved very peripherally these days, and I never make resolutions.  Here’s what I presented:

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This may be useful or relevant to you only in a sideways shuffling kind of way.  Apologies for being more personal & mundane than the previous presentations.

Mohan Ambikaipaker, one of the best teachers I’ve had, once said that everyone should teach for a period of time at least once in your life.  He said that you will learn a lot about learning – how others learn, how you learn, how people learn differently.


Teaching is probably the most political thing I’ve ever done – it’s about facilitating ways of seeing and thinking, and what could be more political than that? Writing a syllabus or a course outline is not dissimilar to writing a manifesto.


A question for all of you.  If you had to teach a subject every week for 14 weeks – which is how long a semester is – what would you teach?  What would you include, or exclude from your syllabus?  What would be your recommended readings, and what would you definitely leave off the list?  What assignments would you set?  How would you assess the students?  These are political questions – they are questions related to power and knowledge production.

To make this more directly relavent to the questions Poskod and #BetterCities are asking, a question I’ve been thinking about is how to use the city as a classroom? How to use the sites, stories, communities, cultures & contradictions of the city as a body of knowledge?  How to get students to go into and learn from the city?

On the flip side, how to organize the classroom so it functions more like a city?  To work with a sense of organized chaos, to encourage the organic, to make different spaces exist, and to move in different directions at the same time?

The teacher-student relationship is somewhat like the relationship between urban planning and urbanism – which is how people actually use the city in spite of urban planning.  How to encourage self-organisation in the classroom?  How to get students to take responsibility for their own learning?  How to get students to learn from, and yes, teach each other?  Oftentimes, learning happens in spite of, rather than because of, the teacher.  Some of the best experiences I’ve had in classes this year – I had very little to do with them

To extend the relationship between the classroom and the city a bit more, how to encourage students to take an idea, concept, or even just a hunch for a walk?  Take your idea for a walk, and let it come back sweaty, smelly, banged-up, bruised and bullied and see what has changed.  The gap between knowledge and your experiencing of that knowledge – that’s where learning happens.  That’s where each student’s solitary walk takes place – each walks and learns differently.  How to create situations for self-discovery for students?

I teach theatre – theory, practical.  Theatre is about making temporary things – characters, times, spaces, a performance that hopefully a larger group of people want to watch.  How to teach young people to make the thing, and make sense of the thing, at the same time?  As a performer, how to embody, and yet, remain analytical?  As an audience member, how to learn empathy, and yet maintain critical distance?  How to watch yourself, watching something?

How to encourage risk-taking and productive failure as a teacher?  How to turn the tables on problems, to look at them upside down, and try to make the problem productive, rather than just problematic?

How to teach not just as a teacher, but as an artist?  How to get young people to understand that they can’t just be students – they’re learning to be artists?

How to work with assholes?  Because some assholes are students too.  And how to not be an asshole as a teacher?  Because some assholes are teachers too!

As I get older, the question of ‘how’, rather than ‘what’ has become more important.  What you are teaching is important, but perhaps a bit more important right now for me is the question of how to teach?  Questions of methodology.

How to be present and absent as a teacher?


How to learn?  How to unlearn?  How to teach?  How to unteach?


How to ask better questions as a teacher?

My resolution for 2013, if it’s not already deadly apparent, is to build more platforms with students, and to get better at teaching.


Mark Teh is a researcher, educator, organiser and performance director whose diverse, collaborative projects are particularly concerned with the issues of Malaysian history, memory and participation.

#BetterCities Talk Series 1: Marco Kusumawijaya

The much awaited video excerpts of speakers from #BetterCities’ first talk series of the year, “The Role of Architecture in Place-Making”, are finally up! In late April, #BetterCities co-organised a talk with Galeri Petronas and Foster + Partners. It was held in conjunction with the Art of Architecture exhibition (March 6 – May 12 2013). Our esteemed panel of speakers included: Marco Kusumawijaya, Karsten Vollmer, Yap Sau Bin and one of our collaborators, Lia Tostes.


“A space becomes a place only when there are people using and taking care of it.”
Marco Kusumawijaya, Founder of RUJAK


Marco Kusumawijaya, founder and director of RUJAK Centre for Urban Studies (RCUS) is someone who likes everything about the city. He is a practitioner, activist and thinker in the fields of architecture, environment, arts, cultural heritage, urban planning and development with more than 20 years of intensive experiences, orienting his practice and thinking towards sustainable urbanism and architecture. Trained as an architect (Parahyangan University’s Architecture Department, Bandung, Indonesia), he then completed his post-graduate studies in the Centre Human Settlements, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. In 2000 he started Green Map (www.greenmap.org) in Indonesia.

Marco’s extensive curriculum vitae can be found here: http://mkusumawijaya.wordpress.com/about-2/


Below are some of his presentation slides (shared here with permission):

[SlideDeck id=’1065′ width=’100%’ height=’410px’]


#BetterCities Talk Series #1: Highlights

The first talk series from #BetterCities of the year, “The Role of Architecture in Place-Making”, was held on 20 April 2013, at Galeri Petronas, Suria KLCC. Co-organized with Galeri Petronas and Foster + Partners, the talk was held in conjunction with the Art of Architecture exhibition (March 6 – May 12 2013).

The lecture hall at Galeri Petronas was packed with over 70 participants that day. Moderated by Sze Ying Goh, our #BetterCities lead, the four speaker from architecture and art backgrounds gave a very engaging and interesting presentations.

Our first speaker was Karsten Volmer, partner at Foster + Partners. Based in London with offices worldwide, Foster + Partners is one of the pioneers in sustainable approaches to architecture through a strikingly wide range of work from urban masterplans to public infrastructure, workplaces to private houses and product design.


“There is a deep seated human desire and need to have a link with the past.”
– Karsten Vollmer, Foster + Partners


Karsten emphasized how the work at Foster + Partners tries to create links to history and the past context of the building site. For example, when the Roman remains of a girl were found at the site of the Swiss Re building in London, Foster + Partners erected a plaque in honour of the girl. “There is a deep seated human desire and need to have a link with the past”, said Karsten.

Our second speaker, Marco Kusumawijaya, founder and director of RUJAK Centre for Urban Studies (RCUS) is someone that likes everything about the city. He is a practitioner, activist and thinker in the fields of architecture, environment, arts, cultural heritage, urban planning and development with more than 20 years of intensive experiences.

“A space becomes a place only when there are people using and taking care of it”, emphasised Marco while sharing his view on public versus common spaces. He shared images of the Malaysian Spring initiated by landscape architect Ng Seksan as an example of how a public space had been transformed by citizens adopting it and beautifying it with a political message.

Next, we heard from Lia Tostes, a #BetterCities mentor of Urban Residency, an urban action workshop held in conjunction with Georgetown Festival this coming June. Lia is an architect and urbanist from Brasilia, Brazil. In her presentation, she shared some interesting examples of participatory urbanism known as ‘M.Y.Urbanism’. The ‘M.Y.’ stands for ‘mend yourself’ and is a term for grassroots urban interventions carried out by citizens without the help of corporations or government bodies.


“A space becomes a place only when there are people using and taking care of it.”
Marco Kusumawijaya, Founder of RUJAK


Last but not least, the presentations were rounded off by Sau Bin Yap, an artist and lecturer at Multimedia University (MMU). Saubin spoke about bringing art to KTM trains and schools by sharing Let Arts Move You (LAMU) and Contemporary Art In School (CAIS ) art projects. With the KTM project, he talked about how something undesirable – like a train delay – could actually facilitate a diversion in artwork.

The talk ended with a Q&A section with the audience followed by refreshments provided by the gallery. #BetterCities wold like to thank all the speakers and partners: Foster + Partners, Galeri Petronas,  British Council Malaysia and everyone who make their present at the talk that day.


You may listen to the Q&A section of the talk here:

#BetterCities Talk Series #1: Q&A session


For more information on our speakers:
Karsten Volmer, Partner at Foster + Partners
http://www.fosterandpartners.com/

Marco Kusumawijaya, Founder/Director RUJAK Centre for Urban Studies
http://rujak.org/

Lia Campelo Lima Tostes, Urbanist/Architect
http://www.inter-disciplinary.net/critical-issues/cyber/urban-popcultures/conference-programme-abstracts-and-papers/session-10-revitalizing-and-reimagining-urban-spaces/

Yap Sau Bin, Artist/Specialist Staff at MMU
http://www.artsnetworkasia.org/content/gallery/lamu.html


Article and photos by Okui Lala. Additional reporting by Ling Low. For more information on #BetterCities’ Talk Series: https://www.betterciti.es/talks

On collecting stories and voices.

PostPhone: A Work-in-Progress Report by Okui Lala

Survey, focus groups, interviews will usually be carried out during the design research phase of a project. We either jot down quick notes or make recordings to gather information. But after this, what do we do with these data? The thought of this has inspired us to make use of the resource while turning the whole experience more fun. What if there is this recorder that enables the public to play a more active role, record their thoughts and be able to access it anytime they want?

Intense brainstorming: A phone booth? A house phone in a public space? Will the public pick up the phone? Will our phone face vandalism? Will the phone get stolen? (Photo Credit: Sze Ying Goh)

On Hacking the Phone

After going through several discussions on the functions and purpose of PostPhone, we realized that our objective could be achieved by hacking a voice recorder. What we needed for this “idea” to work is to ensure the following could be done: 1) record, 2) store and 3) playback.

(Photo Credit: Eywn)

Thus, we got ourselves a good recorder, bought some wires, buttons, speaker and amplifier (to enhance the sound recording). But as we dismantled the whole recorder and started to hack it, we realized the circuitry of the recorder is too close to each other and the wiring of it is too fine — we had our first road block: while we were soldering the parts together, the recorder got short-circuited and could not be used.

The Myth behind PostPhone

Photo Credit: Okui Lala

We got some advice from the expert, which is to get a cheaper recorder as the circuitry will be further apart from each other so it would be easier for us to hack. And it worked!

PostPhone @ KakiSENI Festival

“If you were to make a call to yourself in 2020, what would you say?”


“I would said to myself…. that I would be better and happier.”
– Anonymous User 022


Photo Credit: Eywn

Our first stop (also our opportunity to organise a beta test!) for PostPhone was inside Pavilion, a shopping mall at the city centre of Kuala Lumpur. The reception was encouraging due to the happening events at the KakiSENI Festival. A lot of people stopped by the phone and we received various response. Some were slightly confused with the presence of the phone; some attempted to go through the process of reading our phone guidebook and made their recording; many stopped by and listened. We received a lot of responses and positive but critical suggestions. Thanks! We hear you! 🙂



Designed by Okui Lala and Shum E Wyn, produced by Sze Ying Goh, as part of #BetterCities’ While We Wait Project. While We Wait is supported by the Embassy of Finland, Malaysia.

PostPhone was at KakiSENI Festival 2013 from 24th April – 1st May 2013 (Level 6, just beside Al-Amar Restaurant). Soon, PostPhone will be travelling to a bus station. We invite you to record a phone call to the future. We are collecting and sharing your stories with the city.

Tell Us Your Stories through PostPhone!

We invite you to tell us your storiesA city, a bustling space that is constantly filled with voices and stories. From dreams to destination; from voices to stories. Amidst of the hustle and bustle of sounds, have you found your own voice? Are you listening to others’ as well?

Inspired by PostSecret, the team at #BetterCities were curious about this intangible part of the city. What if we are able to collect the voices of the city as well?

Thus, we came out with PostPhone, a travelling installation for the public to record their thoughts and messages anonymously on a phone as well as to listen to messages recorded by previous users. While giving the unheard voice of the city an ear, we wonder, what are the things people are willing to share?

The project started with an old phone we sourced and a few ideas sketched on a whiteboard. We have been hacking for a few weeks now. Needless to say, our ears are open, we have to try it out!

Deconstructing an old phone

PostPhone is a part of #BetterCities’ While We Wait Project 03. While We Wait is supported by the Embassy of Finland, Malaysia.


Okui lala is currently an intern with #Bettercities. A media arts student who enjoys working with the community, Okui is also a visual designer for theater and music performances.

E Wyn is a media arts student who combines design, arts and programming to create enjoyable experience for his users. He loves minimalism and enjoy taking photos during his spare time.

Workshop: How to build a cob oven

Eats, Shoots and Roots is a social enterprise with a mission to grow communities through growing food; and they do this through educational programmes and through establishing food gardens where people actually live.

Our team at #BetterCities is constantly inspired by their dedication and philosophy. In fact, we are quite a huge fan of their workshops. Their upcoming project is a 1-day workshop on how to build an earthen oven (from scratch!).

Join Austrian permaculturists, Michael Schellauf and Juergen Soecknick in building a cob oven from scratch with materials found locally. In this practical workshop, you will learn how to build a Roman pizza and bread oven just like the ones that they have been building since 3000 years ago in Europe, by hand.

 Michael working on a cob oven at his place

We built one in the past at our last site, Embun Pagi, using clay, mixed with rice husk and sand; and it works perfect in the tropics. We baked everything from smokey pizzas to all sorts of breads in our oven, simply using the ambers of a couple of fallen tree branches and logs found in our neighbourhood.

As the cob oven will take a few weeks to cure after building, there will be an optional pizza party on the 27th April when we fire up the oven for the very first time!

 The cob oven built at Embun Pagi, Batu Arang


Workshop details:

Venue: Eats, Shoots & Roots, Section 5, Petaling Jaya
More info: http://eatsshootsandroots.org/ws1304_buildingacoboven/
Contact: courses@eatsshootsandroots.org


Part 2: On Seed Selection

Reflecting on the seed bombs made not too long ago, they were made with the primal pretext of survival and growth. Seed choices needed to be hardy and fast in growth as the urban jungle was a tough place to be. But plants can really do more than that. So this time, we rigorously worked on our seed choices with the nice people at Eats, Shoots and Roots, engaging a deeper set of obstacles in the urban environment.

We realized that plant choices could be used to tailor the urban environment we see every day. There were some plants that are good at attracting wildlife; some at rehabilitating the soil and other that are edible.

On choosing seeds

(photo credit: Sze Ying Goh)

Flowers

Beneficial weeds are extremely hardy and are commonly found among wastelands. They have the ability to nurse the wasteland for slower growing species to succeed them. Although there are many beneficial weeds, we have chosen the Globe Amaranth because of their downright beauty.

Globe Amaranth

(photo credit: Yuichi Sakuraba)

The Globe Amaranth or locally known as ‘bunga butang’ is a naturalized hardy flowering plant that grows well in our wastelands. It is a great companion plant that takes care of its smaller and more delicate plants. And since it flowers, it will look great!

Flowering plants are an extremely important part of the urban ecosystem. Flowers attract bees and are especially important when we note that bees pollinate every third bite you eat. With no bees in the city, there will be fewer flowers and fruits in town and urban farmers will have to pollinate their crops by hand. This quality will benefit the papaya plant in our seed lineup once it is ready to flower or fruit.

 

Diversity in urban environments

Diversity of wildlife in urban environments is exceptionally important. Having oversight in this such as mono-landscaping or single tree types can be devastating especially with plant disease outbreaks and the overpopulation of urban pests such as crows. Problems like these waste valuable resources and the lowers of the quality of life for many.

We must note that everywhere, plants and animals live together. Some feed on the plants they live with; others eat other animals they live with. If it were not for some of them, many plant eating insects and animals will end up eating entire plants. With no food or shelter for natural enemies, pests will take over the area. While nature usually finds way to reach equilibrium and heal itself, urban settings changes too quickly for nature to keep up. It therefore falls to the humans to come in and help nature out a little. This is the mantra of the urban gardener.

Fruits and Edibles

Fruits and edibles grown in neglected spaces can supplement diets and easily offset weekly grocery shopping bills (or turn you a profit at the ‘pasar malam’). If left unharvested, the fruits will attract squirrels and birds.

Here we have chosen mung beans and papayas.

Green beans, like most legumes are nitrogen-fixing plants and very fast growing. When cut before flowering, mung beans will release nitrogen into the soil. Unlike other beans, green beans are able to grow on their own and do not require supports. Almost every part of the plant can be used in cooking, leaves, beans and sprouts… yes bean sprouts or ‘tauge’.

'Daogeh' - Beansprouts

(photo credit: Angelina Koh)

Lastly there is the papaya, a great tasting fast fruiting plant that has a lot of uses from its non-edible use to prop up roadside kenduri decorations (i.e. the ‘Bunga Manggar’) to the use of the green fruit in meat tenderizing. Make pickles out of it or just eat it fresh. Papayas also attract birds that love to feed on the ripe fruit.

A fun fact about the papaya is that only the female plants bear fruit. Hitting a male plant or injuring it sufficiently will cause the male plant to switch to a female and start fruiting. This odd phenomenon is a natural defense response of the plant to ensure the survival of its species.


The Seed Bank project is part of the While We Wait series supported by The Embassy of Finland, Malaysia. The Seed Bank project is focused on raising awareness to the growing urban gardening movement in Kuala Lumpur. The project will see its implementation at the bus stop in front of Restoran HSBC along Lorong  Maarof in Bangsar and at the Palm Court bus stop along Jalan Sultan Abdul Samad, Brickfields from February 1, 2013 and hopes to see a better urban environment for everyone in the city.

Alex Lee is an urban explorer, DIY dude & greenie. He is constantly exploring, observing and apply interventions to cities to create conversations. Alex Lee believes the city is a living thing.

Featured on The Star Editor’s Choice

Our recent While We Wait project, Seed Bank, is the cover story in The Star Editor’s Choice today. Team #BetterCities is also deploying Seed Bank (Part 2) this afternoon (between 4pm – 6pm) at a bus stop along Lorong Maarof, Bangsar. If you are in the ‘hood, pop by, grab a seed packet, snap a pic!

The Seed Bank project would not be possible without the generosity and kindness of various individuals. These individuals strengthen our belief that collaborative projects are not just possible and fun, but a crucial process in knowledge exchange:

  • Shao-Lyn Low of Eats, Shoots & Roots, for sharing insights on our seed selection process
  • Ng Seksan of Seksan Design, for providing 67 Tempinis 1 gallery space for our seed bomb production
  • Patricia Leong, Teh Chen Yee, Thriguna Dewi who volunteered their time to help us make seed bombs
  • our dedicated and hardworking interns: Nicole Tan (installation, video documentation), Okui Lala (installation, photography), Ivan Ng (installation) and Kyle Soong (video documentation).

We would also like to thank Michelle Tam for the story.