Enjoying the view of the green environment from the windows may be part of the new normal caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Based on numerous studies on landscape design and the psychological aspects of the environment, green exterior environment has been shown to reduce mental stress and increase one's focus.
However, the reality is that not all fortunate societies have open houses to enjoy.
A April 2020 study of the effects of the movement control (CPP) in Malaysia showed that 25% to 32% of individuals with mental illness are low-cost housing residents such as the People's Housing Project (PPR) and they are more affected by mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and extreme anxiety.
One of the contributing factors to mental stress is the congestion in the home that many families share. The 650 to 700 sq ft area has not been able to accommodate 3 generations of households since moving to PPR.
What changes can be made to enable low-cost housing residents, especially in the PPR, to enjoy the benefits and maximize the benefits of green areas?
A telephone interview was conducted with selected PPR residents around Kuala Lumpur.
This study was conducted from April 25 to 29 with a representative from 6 PPRs and one public housing, namely Batu Muda PPR in Sentul, Keramat PPR, Piran Hilir Ampang, Sungai Bonus PPR in Setapak, Seri Semarak PPR, Kampung Air Panas PPR and Public Housing Rejang Village.
The purpose of this study was to find out the opinion of the residents on issues contributing to mental stress and to confirm the positive impact of the green exterior view on the residents.
The findings of the study found that almost all interviewees agreed that one way to reduce mental stress if the CPP is extended is to look outside directly at the balcony.
However, the current situation is PPR flats and public housing does not have a balcony for residents to feel comfortable enjoying the outdoors. The situation seems to be trapped by 4 walls causing the residents to face mental stress.
This suggestion is one of the most important because theories say that out-of-the-window views can reduce stress with a study conducted nearly 31 years ago in a hospital in Pennsylvania, United States that has often been the benchmark for many researchers on the effects of green eyes.
For this study in the PPR, 5 out of 8 interviewees made comparisons to low-cost housing before transferring to PPR. They find it less stressful when they are on the balcony while living in old flats like Circular Flat and Terengganu Flat.
What about the green environment in the PPR area? The results of the interviews revealed that there were playgrounds and fields provided by the authorities.
However, some PPR residents need to apply for recreational facilities in their area. In the worst-case scenario, there are green areas and playgrounds that need to be sacrificed in the PPR area to give way to out-of-control parking lots.
Changes need to be made for the construction of low cost homes in Malaysia. The specification applicable to the space, namely the National Housing Standard for Low Cost Real Estate Housing, can no longer be used. New norms of CPP implementation need to be taken into account in the construction of houses.
Kids' minds are unable to thrive and social problems increase because they have to move out of their mind and physical space.
One resident said her son would use the corridor in front of the house when doing school work provided online during the CPP. The same route is also used as a space for drying clothes.
Opportunities to enjoy the outdoors should be taken into consideration, as well as other household activities. Gardening, home learning and other social activities can be done on the balcony which is a multipurpose space.
Larger windows may also be recommended to maximize visuals outdoors. Examples of affordable housing are in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the largest home in Latin America called "The Copan".
Green areas in the PPR environment need to be emphasized by the relevant authorities. Green outdoor landscape design should take into account how it can be enjoyed not only physically, but visually.
Shureen Faris Abd Shukor is a lecturer in the Department of Landscape Architecture at Universiti Putra Malaysia.
Date of Input: 20/05/2020 | Updated: 20/05/2020 | arizy
UNIVERSITI PUTRA MALAYSIA
43400 UPM SERDANG