Central Park is a 8ha central park anchoring as the landscape centrepiece of Aspen Vision City(AVC)- the first intelligently integrated smart city in Northern Malaysia, a 99 hectare coastal development in Penang where oil palm plantations predominate. This park oasis with a conserved 100yr old ficus tree is designed as an evolving new park and recreation destination for AVC and Penang, and is designed to foster wellness living with expansive fitness and play areas for all ages, with lakefront F&B attractions and nature habitat areas, as well as flexible event spaces for the new community.
As a new town development with no existing user catchment from nearby residential, office and commercial development in the immediate vicinity, Central Park is designed to be constructed in layered phases to meet evolving needs of new residents and visitors. Phase 1 focuses on delivering key park infrastructures, stormwater storage in the water lagoon, outdoor amphitheatre and main pedestrian and service vehicle network. It now attracts visitors from the main Penang Island and from the few neighbouring developments. Phase 2 is underway to install the remaining bells and whistles of the park, bringing to fruition a complete vision of Aspen Central Park.
Programmatically, Central Park is divided into three main zones – Family Festival, Adventure Lagoon & Urban Sanctuary.
The Family Festival zone is focused on universally designed recreational facilities for all ages, starting with the Festival Court at the main entrance for large-scale outdoor events, with features such as expansive Activity Lawn, romantic Flower Meadow and an interactive plaza, it is optimised for place making & festivities throughout the year.
The Festival zone enjoys an open vista towards the Adventure Lagoon zone – a children-centric zone with a large Adventure Playground and Play Stream. The Playground is based on a ‘Jungle Trail’ concept with undulating play mounds, hanging bridges, look-out towers and exploration areas. Meanwhile, the Stream and aqua-play area facilitates splashing good fun.
The Central Lagoon features a floating water jet which spectacularly soars 50m into the sky, and is in the Malaysia Book of Records for highest water jet in Malaysia, attracting many park visitors. This wind resistant vertical water jet creates a strong statement with its white frothy water geyser, which is highly visible from afar during the day and is a dramatic focal point in the night when illuminating its dense, aerated pattern. This unique vertical jet fountain floats up and down with the changing water level and provides aeration to improve lagoon water quality.
The Urban Sanctuary in the third zone, aims to create a lush, forest-like environment through dense planting of selected tree species. The Heritage Arboretum in this zone accommodates native forest trees planting to attract fauna such as pollinators & birds.
Sculptural landmarks with a “Engaging the Senses” theme –sight, sound or touch, are placed, providing a fun iconic photo opportunity in every zone. A 2.7km jogging cycling loop threads through various park attractions and water edge, allowing easy wayfinding inside the park.
The site is low lying with a high groundwater table, the cut and fill to form the lagoon is sustainably balanced to provide the fill required to raise the overall level of the park and the new earth mounds. Water sensitive urban design (WSUD) principles were adopted as the park crucially functions as water catchment & treatment area for the surrounding urban residential sites. 3 key WSUD strategies incorporated are:
– Optimal application of decentralised stormwater management strategy
– Site-specific design based on local climate data, site terrain, hydrologic and hydraulic parameters
– Appropriate spatial and functional integration of detention, treatment, harvesting, and reuse facilities into the landscape design
Due to the large 99 ha catchment area, managing the incoming stormwater to the pond is critical in maintaining water quality, and ensuring sediments & nutrient content of incoming water is controlled to prevent eutrophication and algae bloom. Various landscape water treatment typologies such as sedimentation basins, created wetlands, rain gardens and bio swales are designed to be arranged around the 100m diameter Central Lagoon, from where it will be discharged as appropriate. Correctly designed & sized treatment systems are also instrumental to achieve optimum balance between aesthetic & functional demands of the park.
Central Park will feature both active and passive edge treatments, such as steps, slopes & boardwalks allow users to come closer and interact with the water, flora & fauna and passive vegetation buffers vital for habitat creation & increasing biodiversity. In the recently completed Phase 1, a value engineered version, the pond is temporarily edged in grass and planting. In the next phase, these edges will be upgraded to the final design scheme.
Project location: 14110 Batu Kawan, Penang, Malaysia
Design year: 2016
Year Built: Nov 2018 (Phase 1)