Strategically located adjacent to the economic powerhouse of Singapore, Forest City is a new global cluster of commerce and culture. Designed to cultivate a live/work lifestyle, it includes financial institutions, research facilities, and a variety of creative industries that establish an innovative and sustainable new city in southern Malaysia. The project has been years in the making, involving collaboration and ongoing dialogue between the Iskandar Regional Development Authority, the Johor State Government, the Malaysian Department of the Environment, the Government of Malaysia, and the Government of Singapore. A critical component to the project’s success has been a transparent engagement process. A series of open meetings addressed issues on the environment, transportation, and the local fishing economy, and a detailed environmental impact assessment was prepared by an independent agency.
A primary concern raised during the planning process was Forest City’s potential impact on regional fisheries. Ecosystems including coastal mangroves, shallow water seagrass, and intertidal mudflats provide habitat for an estimated 75% of locally caught fish. The master plan was therefore organized to protect endangered seagrass beds through the creation of a 250 hectare Seagrass Preserve that restricts motorized boats, limits human access, and creates opportunities for ongoing monitoring, research, and conservation. This unique marine sanctuary is embraced by a contiguous network of complementary waterfront landscapes that offer opportunities to learn about and protect the region’s ecosystems. With 31.4 linear kilometers of coastline, edges are designed to mimic naturally occurring features of Malaysia's coastal ecosystems that provide critical marine habitat and support local fisheries. The most essential of the edge conditions is Forest City’s restored mangroves. According to UNESCO estimates, over 30% of Malaysia’s mangroves have been lost over the past five decades. A priority for the design team was the re-creation of critical marine habitat, with the master plan re-establishing 9.2 linear kilometers of new mangroves and 10.3 linear kilometers of shallow coves and mudflats. Based on estimates from the UN Blueprint for Ocean and Coastal Sustainability, these coastal systems have the ability to absorb or sequester carbon at rates up to 50 times those of the same area of tropical forest.
Looking beyond environmental benefits, Forest City's future success also relies on a transportation system that promotes a compact and walkable urban environment. Density and civic uses are organized around centers, ensuring that over 80% of the development is situated within a 10-minute walk of public transit. The system is organized with a multi-layered approach designed to prioritize pedestrian connections. Infrastructure related to vehicular traffic is located at the ground level, while a contiguous landscape creates public space adjacent to transit stations at the top level of the infrastructure podium. This approach envisions a new paradigm for the public realm — a contiguous rooftop landscape that links all development parcels, accommodates stormwater, re-establishes native habitat zones, filters runoff, and provides recreational opportunities.. Although the development has many years ahead of it, Forest City is planned as a sustainable model for coastal urban areas around the world.
Sasaki comprises architecture, interior design, planning, urban design, landscape architecture, graphic design, and civil engineering, as well as financial planning and software development. Collaboration is at the core of what we do and see it as one of the fundamentals of innovation. We work beyond boundaries to make new discoveries.