Green, Smart and Connected Putrajaya


Putrajaya (Malaysia) has a great potential to be a self-sustaining and competitive international city on the basis of its territorial position, its neighborhoods and current elements of excellence in infrastructure and design

The future GREEN, SMART and CONNECTED development model for Putrajaya identifies an innovative approach to sustainable development making Putrajaya socially and economically vibrantwhile transforming it into a “low carbon”, low resource consuming city – thus making it one of the most livable vibrant urban areas within the greater Kuala Lumpur conurbation with a planned population of 347,000 by 2025 - a step towards the goal of among the top 20 cities of the world by year 2020.

The development model will transform Putrajaya from a mono-centric to a poly-centric city, introducing a Transport Oriented Development for an efficient andsustainable inter and intra-urban mobility and a new low carbon built environment taking full advantage of the existing green and water features. The existing built environment will be retrofitted to achieve 40 percent reduction in carbon emissions.

Project background

In the 21st century, cities are increasingly becoming the engines of economic growth. A city’s existence will much depend on its competiveness through the Urban Trilogy of economic opportunity, social inclusion and environmental sustainability it offers. Nearly 18 years into the development of Putrajaya, the city needed to reassess its position and the role it must play to make it a magnet for businesses, institutions and people.
In 2010 the government envisioned that Putrajaya along with its neighbour city Cyberjaya to be the model for “green” cities of the future. Additionally, the Prime Minister’s aspiration for Putrajaya to be an economically, socially and intellectually vibrant city led to the idea of urban renewal to take the course of development towards making the city Green Smart and Connected:

“Putrajaya and Cyberjaya will serve as flagship green townships. The Government will take the lead in adopting green building standards. New Government buildings will be designed to meet green standards. Energy efficiency of existing buildings will be enhanced and as a showcase example, the Prime Minister’s Office complex will be upgraded to meet the Gold Standard Green rating” (PM’s speech in Parliament to table Malaysia’s 10th.- Economic Plan)

A mandate was given, to go beyond green and make Putrajaya a unique city of balance - of environment, culture, innovation, economy and the society. Putrajaya Eco2 City: A strategic concept to enhance the city of Putrajaya into a Green, Smart and Connected Global City (Presentation to Economic Council/29th November 2010). This Study Originated from Work Done since 2010 to Realise PM’s Request for a Roadmap for Putrajaya to be Economically, Socially and A Strategic Concept to Enhance the city of Putrajaya into an Intellectually Vibrant.

Putrajaya: in the greater Kuala Lumpur conurbation

From its conception, Putrajaya has been planned as a Malaysian City, designed by Malaysians to represent the administrative capital for the country reflecting a “city-in-a-garden” and “intelligent city” co-theme with its location, next to the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC), Cyberjaya. The original master plan approved in February 1995 on 4,900ha site is demarcated into 17 precincts with 5 major precincts designated as core areas separated by a large water body from the rest, which are called the periphery. A formal 2.1km boulevard in the core area acts as the monumental axis.

The city is about 65% developed. Almost all government offices and government housing have been completed. There are about 2.74 million square metres of government office spaces in Putrajaya generating approximately 51,400 workers. Government housing represents 83% of the total 24,000 housing units. Currently, Putrajaya has around 89,000 population and 95.5% of them are Bumiputera. Existing commercial spaces stand at a total of 439,400 square metres and only 658 business licenses.

Putrajaya is strategically located on the emerging and highly active north-south axis of economic growth in the Greater KL conurbation, with a population of 6 million contributing RM263 million to GNI. With neighbouring Cyberjaya, the heart of the Multimedia Super Corridor, Putrajaya’s close proximity to the international airport, technology industry cluster and major academic institutions, positions it well at the intersection of industry, academia and the government – a fertile ground for new knowledge and innovation driven growth opportunities.

Most importantly, Putrajaya can take advantage of this centrality to build clusters of knowledge driven high value jobs that will be the foundation for the 21st century economy.

Another advantage of the centrality of Putrajaya is its position of being the 2nd most accessible metropolitan area within Greater KL conurbation after Kuala Lumpur. It is accessible by road by all the important local centers and by the Express Rail Link that connects Kuala Lumpur with the International airport.

Through an Isochrone model, Putrajaya is able to capture a population base of 830,000 inhabitants within a 30 minutes travel distance and 7 million inhabitants within a 45 minutes travel distance.
Through improvement in its connectivity, by a network of public transportation, we envision Putrajaya as a new centrality within the Greater KL region.


The Malacca Straits diagonal: 16 million people

In the larger territorial context, to assess Putrajaya’s potential, its central location within the Malacca Straits Diagonal, is of significant importance. This places the city in an extremely strategic location. Covering a territory stretching from Penang to Iskandar and to Singapore, there are over 16 million people living in the Malacca, Straits Diagonal, who are connected through the principal axes of the national infrastructure, comprising of rail networks, highways and over 600 weekly number of flights.

A future high speed train connection between Penang to Singapore will shorten travel time between these cities, thus increasing connectivity to Putrajaya. At a regional scale, the Diagonal takes a central position within the East Asian region. Connected by multiple flight routes connecting to a wide and diverse population base.

This diverse population base in the ASEAN region is larger than the European Union and the United States and comprises of a group of emerging economic markets. As a of a major economy with some of the best infrastructure and region-wide connectivity, Putrajaya has a huge potential to be at the of a powerful economic region of the world.

Putrajaya is rightly positioned to be the nexus for governance, politics, culture and commerce in the larger East Asian Region. It would need to adopt a new urban DNA and profile that takes advantage of its current endowments and addresses its deficits. Putrajaya has a great potential to be a self-sustaining and competitive international city on the basis of its territorial position, its neighborhoods and current elements of excellence in infrastructure and design.

However to make it a magnet for people, investments, businesses and the intellectual community, it would need to adopt an urban DNA and profile that makes it a highly livable place for all, offering cultural and social vibrancy, smart business and living services, international environment, efficient transport connectivity and mobility and a sustainable green environment.

It could create knowledge, jobs, bring in institutions involved in research and promote innovation through community participation from all walks of life. Furthermore, it could also maintain a low carbon sustainable green environment to live in.

Exploiting the centrality of Putrajaya by using the available 35 percent of land, with a new urban profile theme of Green, Smart and Connected, focusing on economic, intellectual and social vibrancy, Putrajaya could become a magnet of a city thatnis competitive, livable and sustainable.


Sustainable development model

Cities are great platform of transactions – social and commercial. It is the intensity and quality of these transaction that makes a city a magnet for people and businesses. Our model for a sustainable Putrajaya starts with an appealing green and well-connected urban built environment that will attract high value-adding jobs to move to Putrajaya and along with them, the people. This creates economic opportunities for residents and the city’s administration in income and revenues, building capacity to keep investing in the city’s sustainability and competitiveness.

The urban environment is predicated by iconic buildings, public infrastructure and government administrative office facilities. Putrajaya’s current development is primarily towards fulfilling the plan to build government facilities, infrastructure and utilities, transportation and the green areas. Elements like housing, retail, mixed use and services are less than 40 percent of the city in an extremely strategic location.

Built Environment: Vast green spaces, water body and ample wetlands are key features of Putrajaya. The built environment, however, is not energy efficient and sustainable.

Economic Opportunity: Economics of Putrajaya is largely dependent on government employment. With limited commercial transactions, Putrajaya is not economically sustainable 

Social Inclusion: With 95 percent residents comprised of Bumiputra and government employees, Putrajaya’s social fabric is cohesive but monolithic.


The ‘Loop City’ concept ant the new centrality

In order to reinforce the list of proposed catalyst projects, in support of the vision and strategy for the Putrajaya Green, Smart and Connected initiative, it is critical to identify a coherent spatial framework in which each of the projects can relate and connect (physically and programmatically) in the future. Key to the proposal is that new projects in Putrajaya are not thought of as isolated developments, but rather each reinforces the other to create a more Socially, Environmentally and Economically vibrant city. This new concept is referred to as the Loop City:

  • Two disconnected Centres adjacent to the main transport line
  • Two interconnected Centres around a new Loop - City Hub

The Loop City concept represents a new transportation based structure, centered on the Putrajaya Sentral Train Station and giving new spatial rationale to connect with areas in the Cyberjaya and Putrajaya. The Loop City concept does not intend to compete with the administrative Axis and formal functions existing in Putrajaya. Instead, it allows for an entirely new mix of urban density, uses and connected fabrics to be built up in the future. The Loop City concept is dependent upon centralizing the urban diagram around the current Putrajaya Sentral Station in support of future transformative projects. The of the Loop City is described as the CPU Hub for the project. CPU is derived from the “C” in Cyberjaya and the “PU” in Putrajaya to represent a stronger spatial and programmatic connectivity between the two municipal areas.

To discover opportunities for economic and social vibrancy, it was important that Putrajaya be benchmarked against similar administrative cities around the world. Canberra, Washington D.C., and Brasilia were picked and compared with respect to the core design, the metropolitan area, transportation system and vibrancy.

In the case of Washington D.C. the attractive neighborhoods of Georgetown, DuPont Circle, Adams Morgan, and Capitol Hill are all found in areas disconnected with the monumental axis but in locations well linked by infrastructure and public transportation (metro, rapid bus and regional bus systems).

The charismatic street life so inherent in Brazilian culture exists not within the city proper, but in the suburban satellite towns set well apart from the center, yet accessible by the metro system, offering this polycentric city a wide variety of urban flavor.

Beyond serving as the capital and the seat of government, Canberra offers many social and cultural institutions of national significance, including museums, memorials, a national university, concert halls, shopping areas and public gardens which make it a lively city.

Referencing these well-known international examples, we can see that planned capital cities often require a peripheral counterpart which can support more lively and cosmopolitan activity. In each case, these areas encourage a diversity of employment opportunities, social amenities, transportation modes, commercial experiences and housing typologies to offset the mono-function of the administrative .

To reach this objective, we must begin with the understanding that the urban design and planning of the city are inextricably intertwined with the growth of green, smart and connected urban components.


2013–2025: the greater KL conurbation

The historical analysis of urban development in the Klang Valley/Greater KL has identified Putrajaya and Cyberjaya as a new geographic centrality in the most recent stage of metropolitan development.

This positioning is reinforced by its centrality between the internal connectivity with the historical/cultural in KL to the north and the external or international connectivity with KLIA to the south. This new centrality is further strengthened by existing high capacity infrastructures in Greater KL and strong economic forces southward to Melaka and Iskandar.

This geographic centrality together with emerging constellation of industries and institutions around Putrajaya is a strategic opportunity for developing Putrajaya into a vibrant centre of culture, community and commerce.

In anticipation of on-going development of Putrajaya into a city of nearly 350,000 population by 2025, and the goal of reducing carbon emission intensity by 40 percent, the study recommends 11 action items. The top 3 among them are :

  1. Cutting edge smart buildings
  2. Reduction of fossil fuel vehicles
  3. Use of integrated urban planning tools

While cities aspire to be magnets for people and businesses, smart use of resources, citizen and business community experience become of paramount importance. Cities running on intelligent operating platforms are getting increasingly popular as they can help improve both resource and carbon productivity up to 30 percent, through:

  1. Smart utilities
  2. Smart buildings
  3. Smart transportation
  4. Smart services

Being connected is the most essential necessity to lead a smart and sustainable living – both physical and information connectivity. Two essential components to achieve a seamless connected living, today and in the future will be :

  1. An efficient and connected public transportation system for unlimited access and reach
  2. An ‘anywhere’, ‘anytime’ connected community powered by pervasiveness and ubiquity of intelligent networks


Digital Master Planning

For a truly sustainable city and community service just “green” is not enough. Moving forward, Putrajaya will adopt the principles of Intelligent Urbanism that will deliver long term sustainability providing efficiency, experience, convenience, conviviality, security, balance with nature and culture, learning experience and a clean green built environment with walk-able districts- most of these delivered by technology , both engineering and information.

Cities are dynamic and ever changing. Rather than having a master-plan and reviewing it once in few years, Putrajaya would adopt a Digital Master Planning process that monitors performance of key parameters and indicators on a daily basis to continuously improve livability conditions and attractiveness. With capabilities to simulate future scenarios, the technology will predict the state of city operations at buildings, neighborhood and precinct levels, analyze them and propose solutions – on energy, water, transportation, traffic management, waste management, security, commerce.

The vision of a Green Smart and it is becoming a possibility and is an effective model for sustainable urban environments In implementing such models, all major functions need to interoperate. The role of technology is to bind all the city management functions over an integrated and unified information infrastructure or simply – an info-structure . Putrajaya shall deploy the info-structure first, application areas will integrate later based on need and business case.

Adopting such an urban management model will requite rethinking of the city’s governance and operating model. The city administration may appoint a Master Service Provider formed collectively by several stakeholders , which can then outsource various consumer related services to specialist firms using their network platform and the core operating infrastructure. This will open up channels of revenues for the Network Master Service Provider Connected urban environment for Putrajaya creates an opportunity to build a city running on a technology platform that was unthinkable jest a few years ago -but today with fast convergence of a variety of technologies.


Putrajaya at a glance

Putrajaya is a planned city, 25 km south of Kuala Lumpur, that serves as the federal administrative centre of Malaysia. The seat of government was shifted in 1999 from Kuala Lumpur to Putrajaya, due to overcrowding and congestion in the Kuala Lumpur area. Nevertheless, Kuala Lumpur remains Malaysia's national capital, being the seat of the King and Parliament, as well as the country's commercial and financial centre. Putrajaya was the brainchild of former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad. In 2001, Putrajaya became Malaysia's third Federal Territory after Kuala Lumpur and Labuan.

Named after the first Malaysian Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, the city is within the Multimedia Super Corridor, beside the recently developed Cyberjaya. In Sanskrit, "putra" means "prince" or "male child", and "jaya" means "success" or "victory". The development of Putrajaya started in early 1990s, and today major landmarks have been completed and the population is expected to grow in the near future. (Source: Wikipedia)


A living Laboratory for sustainability

Economic and Investment Perspective

  • Putrajaya’s centrality in the region and Greater Kuala Lumpur
  • A resident population potential of 347,000
  • Future demand in mass transportation infrastructure
  • Transit oriented development potential

Socio-economic Perspective

  • Private sector job creation in knowledge intensive industries
  • Developing a regional institutional base
  • International city
  • Community centred development

Environmental Sustainability Perspective

    • Low carbon emission living environment
    • Mass transit mobility for reduced emission
    • Walk-able compact districts


Saibal Chowdhuryby Saibal Chowdhury

Urban Technologist / CEO at KFM Solutions Sdn. Bhd.


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