Urban Menus

Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur

Networking often has a bad reputation, people understanding it as a shallow or opportunistic exchange of small talk and information. We see and use networking as an avenue to create long term relationships, new alliances, and teams where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Having this idea in mind and with the help of the amazing team of Advantage Austria Malaysia, this August we organized a virtual round table with experts from Kuala Lumpur and not only. Aim of the meeting: to discover new ways of thinking about SMART CITIES, as well as kickstart cooperation between Malaysian companies and organizations and the Austrian expert Laura P. Spinadel.

Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic[R1], the 15-minute city is a trending topic both in Vienna and Kuala Lumpur, as well as in the rest of the world. BUSarchitektur’s Compact City, a plea against monoculture in architecture and urban development, was the topic to kickstart our conversation, relevant now just as 20 years ago.

Urban sprawl[R2] and high motorization rates are currently leading to congestion and low usage of public transport in Kuala Lumpur (only 17% of commuters use public transport according to the World Bank[O1]). The lack of pedestrian-friendly environment is now identified as one of the urban design issues[R3] concerning the city. The good news is that there are currently ongoing efforts in place to build resiliency in the cities: Think City[O2], a social purpose organization from Malaysia with the mission of making cities more people-friendly, resilient, and livable, joined our round table. They brought valuable input to the discussion, ranging from their experience with the scarce availability of reliable data in Malaysia to how they interact with stakeholders in urban regeneration processes.

Representants of UN-Habitat saw opportunities in using Urban Menus in local administration education, pilot projects in cities in Malaysia that struggle with informality or with migration or in communities that are just getting access to services. They emphasized the great value of using games for engagement, as well as the possibility to use the tool for training for governments, to change the mindset of people or as part of a city education process. For projects regarding public space, but also urban regeneration and city extensions, there could be the possibility of further cooperation. UN-Habitat’s experiences[O3] of using Minecraft shows the importance of video games as an instrument for community participation. They involve youth in urban development processes and use ICT tools for them to become knowledgeable, accept new viewpoints, collaborate, and act.

Fortunately, we did not have to wait long for the first alliance to form after our fruitful discussion: Urbanice Malaysia[O4] invited us, together with an Austrian expert group, to present new interaction strategies for SMART CITY projects at the Malaysia Urban Forum 2020.

questions that arose, among others, were:

voices from Malaysia

“As a community member I want to have a say, I want to tell the people “This is the change I want!”.”

Christelle Lahoud

“We see the value of games, to change perceptions and to change the mindset of people, of how they see the public space, but also to engage different actors or stakeholders on public space design.”

Jose Chong

Public participation has entered a new height compared to just a decade earlier [R4] Jamalunlaili Abdullah, Che Bon Ahmad, Sri Rahayu Mohd Sa’ad, Shariman Sbdul Wahab

Different views of the Compact City by BUSarchitektur, a convincing plea against monoculture in the city

participating stakeholders:

Dr. Ceelia Leong, Senior Manager (Analytics), Think City Sdn Bhd, Malaysia
Joel Goh Tze Wen, Senior Manager (Analytics), Think City Sdn Bhd, Malaysia
Aufa Abd Rahman, Manager (Conservation & Adaptive Reuse), Think City Sdn Bhd, Malaysia
Sofia Castelo, Senior Manager (Resilience), Think City Sdn Bhd, Malaysia
Ahila Ganesan, Senior Manager (Special Projects), Think City Sdn Bhd, Malaysia
Yasmin Lane, Communities and Projects Manager, Urbanice, Malaysia
Mr. Tam Hoang, Sustainable Urbanization Specialist, UN-Habitat, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Thailand
Jose Chong, Programme Management Officer, Global Public Space Programme – Planning, Finance and Economy Section, UN-Habitat HQ, Kuwait
Christelle Lahoud, Associate Programme Management Officer, Global Public Space Programme – Planning, UN-Habitat, Kenya Ms. Goh Seok Mei, CEO, Graffiquo[O5], Malaysia/ Singapore
Markus Oszwald, Vice President Sales, Graffiquo, Malaysia/ Singapore


R1: Credit, Kevin (2020): Neighborhood inequity: Exploring the factors underlying racial and ethnic disparities in COVID‐19 testing and infection rates using ZIP code data in Chicago and New York. In Regional Science Policy & Practice, 12(6), 1249-1271. (last access: 23.12.2020)

R2: Irtema, Hamza Imhimmed Mohamed, et al. (2018): Case study of the behavioral intentions of public transportation passengers in Kuala Lumpur. In Case Studies on Transport Policy, 6(4), 462-474. (last access: 23.12.2020)

R3: Zakaria, Juriah | Norsidah, Ujang (2015): Comfort of walking in the city center of Kuala Lumpur. In Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 170, 642-652. (last access: 23.12.2020)

R4: Abdullah, Jamalunlaili, et al. (2015): Public Participation in the Kuala Lumpur Draft City Plan 2020. In Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 168, 70-75. (last access: 23.12.2020)


O1: World Bank (2015): Malaysia Economic Monitor, June 2015 – Transforming Urban Transport. (last access: 23.12.2020)

O2: Think City Malaysia. (last access: 28.12.2020)

O3: UN (2015): Using Minecraft for Youth Participation in Urban Design and Governance. United Nations Human Settlements Programme. (last access: 23.12.2020)

O4: Urbanice Malaysia. (last access: 28.12.2020)

O5: Graffiquo. (last access: 28.12.2020)



10 million residents