Building resilient communities

The Exchange TRX in Kuala Lumpur incorporates climate resilient and adaptable features in its design, construction and future operations.

  • 10 Aug 2021
  • by
  • Stuart Mendel

Climate change is the defining crisis of our time and it’s clear that business as usual is not good enough. According to a September 2019 World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report, we are at least one degree Celsius above preindustrial levels and close to what scientists warn would be “an unacceptable risk”. The 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change calls for holding eventual warming “well below” two degrees Celsius, and for the pursuit of efforts to limit the increase even further, to 1.5 degrees.1 Urgent and coherent climate risk management measures, accompanied by mitigation actions, must be adopted by all public, private and community actors in order to achieve a 1.5-degree resilient world. Only with these actions will a transition to an inclusive, resilient and sustainable world be possible.

The Covid-19 pandemic that has gripped us over the past year has inevitably enabled our natural environment to hit the reset button. With most countries across the globe impacted by lockdowns of varying degrees and with the pandemic showing no signs of abating, our planet became the unlikely beneficiary from the situation. 

Global air pollution levels saw a significant reduction trend, with carbon monoxide emissions reduced by more than 50%.2 Moreover, noise level has reduced by between 35% to 68% across the world while sewage and industrial effluents in rivers have recorded a 500% decrease.3 These unintended advantages offer unprecedented insights into the dynamics of our built environments, the increased awareness of which, can lead to viable paths for sustainable development.

What does this mean for the built environment and its relevance in managing climate change? 

With our global development pipeline of A$110 billion focused on urban regeneration projects across major cities in the Americas, Australia, Europe and Asia, the places we create now will exist well beyond 2050. To avoid catastrophic environmental and social impacts to our society, it is crucial to ensure that the places we create are designed to be resilient, adaptable and sustainable. 

Strategically located within an integrated 70-acre development that is poised to be Kuala Lumpur’s new Central Business District and Malaysia’s International Financial District, The Exchange TRX is Lendlease’s largest development in Asia and our opportunity to demonstrate our leadership in creating spaces that are climate resilient, adaptable and allow the people of Kuala Lumpur to continue to thrive and prosper in a changing world. 

The Exchange TRX is an experiential lifestyle destination and thriving world class sustainable precinct at the heart of the city defining Tun Razak Exchange.

Globally, Lendlease has a strong track record of partnering with governments and local authorities, sharing our global knowledge in safety and sustainability through innovation and raising industry benchmarks. Through sustainability, we play a crucial role in ensuring our gateway cities attract industry, investment and talent needed to live up to this ‘liveability’ status, which is a key goal for the Greater KL Development Plan. 

In terms of climate change, the sentiment in Malaysia has shifted over the last few years, and it has grown to become a more talked-about topic. Our responsibility as Lendlease, working with our partners, stakeholders and the community more broadly, is to continuously improve operations and integration of climate resilient strategies which help reduce the vulnerability of the urban environment impacted by climate change. As a strategic partner to the government and industry players, we share our best practices through stakeholder engagements and industry sharing platforms e.g. our Climate Resilience Report on The Exchange TRX and learnings on TCFD (Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures) are freely shared to help raise industry awareness and set new benchmarks. 

In our construction business in Malaysia, we have been recognised for our leadership in safety and sustainability focusing on the design and delivery of healthy and sustainable buildings, leveraging digital solutions and piloting sustainable building materials to raise industry benchmarks. This is evident in our founding membership of the Green Building Council in Malaysia.  

Resilience as a long-term design principle to address the evolution of the built environment

As part of our planning and design for The Exchange TRX, we have integrated climate resilience and community adaptation into our design, construction and future asset operations, incorporating features to reduce the vulnerability of The Exchange TRX to climate changes and increasing the adaptive capacity and resilience of its community. We have also identified features incorporated to mitigate four key areas of concerns such as heatwaves, urban flooding, wildfires and water scarcity. The CCAR (Climate Change Action and Resilience Plan) fits within the broader Lendlease Sustainability Framework which responds to the need to plan for future generations by integrating both environmental and social focus into every part of the business.   

The residences, hotel and office facades have been designed above industry standard with high-performance glazing to reduce solar penetration into the buildings. Building façades feature well-sealed envelopes to minimise air quality issues and improve the passive energy performance of the building. The Exchange TRX and its assets are targeting to reduce potable water demand by 50%, through the selection of water efficiency measures, maximising onsite rainwater retention and the use of water recycling systems to recover over 80% of wastewater. 

The Exchange TRX has adopted necessary measures to protect against inundation under flood modelling during the lifetime of the development e.g. ramps with humps at all ingress points and dewatering pumps within the basement act as additional measures to mitigate flood concerns. The 10-acre City Park located within the precinct will comprise sprawling landscapes, permeable paving and water sensitive urban design strategies that have been adopted to maximise onsite retention of water from storm events, optimise infiltration and protect assets both onsite and downstream from potential localised flooding events due to increased rainfall intensity. 

Social connectivity strengthens an overall sense of belonging, creating communities that thrive

In addition to climate resilience, establishing an interconnected resilient community underpins our approach in designing The Exchange TRX. Communities that are highly socially connected are better able to withstand extreme events because people proactively help each other. Cities that build in some of these social interactions help make them more resilient. 

When creating a new community like The Exchange TRX, it is essential to establish frameworks and systems that foster interactions and connections that will create good levels of community interdependency and to build resilience.

Inspired by human interaction and evolving urban design best practices, Lendlease’s approach to placemaking at The Exchange TRX engages stakeholders through a series of initiatives that foster vibrancy and diversity. The precinct provides multi-dimensional curated experiences that are social, cultural and community focused. These include spaces such as pedestrian friendly footpaths, green spaces, parks and recreation areas that enable the transition from ‘a sense of space to a sense of place’.   

At the heart of the community is the TRX City Park, Kuala Lumpur’s first major public park in 20 years. Designed as a world class public realm, this activated rooftop park will be an event ready destination for arts and cultural celebrations as well as a space for sporting and outdoor activities that promote health and wellbeing and family-oriented and mixed-age activities. 

The 10-acre TRX City Park is a world class public realm and is Kuala Lumpur’s first major park in over two decades

The future adaptation and resilience of our developments consist of two main elements – the built environment and its community. It is the combination of these two elements and how they interact that will create strong levels of resilience. 

Our work at The Exchange TRX is representative of our overarching goal of enhancing the sustainable design, construction and operational practices as well as community adaptability in Malaysia. The success of any development relies on the coming together of all components involved to deliver on its vision and we are proud of The Exchange TRX’s role as an exemplar destination of public-private partnership for sustainable development.