By Rahul Mittal | 12 Oct 2018

Progressive developments in Asia are proving that communities can thrive in high-density environments, and that residents and developers can benefit from building mixed use precincts with a community focus.

Cities like Singapore and Hong Kong often rank high on the global liveability scale. Once due to decades of investment in city infrastructure – think waterfronts, airports and public transit – both cities have now diversified their approach to invest in community infrastructure as well.

These cities have achieved notable success in rolling out mixed use developments above, below and around public transit stations. Despite taking different approaches to transit-oriented developments (TODs), Singapore and Hong Kong are now hailed as market leaders in bringing public and private interests together.

There's a whole community approach that's taking shape in these progressive Asian cities.

Similar to the redevelopment of the Yarra River in Melbourne, Singapore revitalised the Singapore River in the 1970s, taking a polluted and overcrowded blight on the city and transforming it into a mixed use hub that’s now a magnet for tourists and locals.

Singapore’s riverside precincts – Clarke, Boat and Robertson Quays – were meticulously planned to blend historic and new developments, filled with dining, entertainment and leisure hot spots that are now prime real estate in a sought-after area.

More recently, in Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur has embarked on a similar revitalisation of its riverfront. Public dollars are being pumped into beautifying the area, to attract private developers who can invest in high-quality mixed use precincts, to activate the waterfront 24/7.

It’s this clever combination of ground floor retail, active and safe streets, shade and protection from the elements, and pedestrian access to public transport that’s attracting people and supporting community growth within new and urban renewal developments.

Clarke Quay, Singapore

In Singapore, the government launched a program that encourages businesses and communities to work together to make ten of the city’s designated Business Improvement Districts (BID) more attractive.

This blending of interests mirrors the current trend where the traditional mode of offices and/or residential apartments above retail spaces is being extended to include entertainment and culture venues, hotels and restaurants, as well as medical and childcare facilities.

There’s a whole of community approach that’s taking shape in these progressive Asian cities. While each location has its own set of attributes and market conditions, which impacts the mixed use elements of a development, community is becoming an important end goal.

By putting people first, we're creating connections and communities that are needed in society today.

More developments are providing mixed-income housing and inter-generational options to combat the need to provide housing for people of all ages and incomes. This diversity in itself creates a sense of community – by having roots in one place for people as they age.

A combination of young and older residents fosters safe and respectful communities, which in turn leads to economic sustainability among retail outlets, by attracting different demographics of consumers as they move through the stages of life.

We’re no longer beholden to the packed-in, post-war public housing projects that defined density in the 1950s. Density today can be as liveable and vibrant as the quarter-acre blocks once sought after for the great Australian dream.

By putting people first, we’re creating connections and communities that are needed in society today. Liveable, high-density cities are leading the way with developments that create a dynamic skyline and rich lifestyle choices for all ages.