Being in lockdown and staying at home during the pandemic has given people a new understanding of nature. More than ever, there is a need to be around greenery and enjoy its serenity.
“When you told us the topic was about green spaces, we thought the office would be the perfect place to talk about it,” architect Chan Mun In said on our recent introduction.
In fact, an abundance of potted plants line the staircase and balconies of the shared offices of EDI Architects Sdn Bhd and Essential Design Integrated Sdn Bhd in Petaling Jaya (Chan is a director of both companies), while clear-glass window panes Offering an uninterrupted view of greenery from inside the office.
Both companies specialize in tropical living and focus on what their customers need. They have architects, interior architects and interior designers.
Chan says the essence of green space is that it makes you feel like you’re outside. “Where do you think you are when you are sitting in a green space? Do you feel like you are indoors or out? , [A green space should] Change your perception of where you are.”
Interior designer Wong Pei San, a fellow director, says that a green space makes you feel like you are around nature. Pointing to a small green space in the bathroom on the second floor of her office, where the walls are slightly broken to let in sunlight and air, she says, “Here, you can still see can [the sky] and smell [the air],
“It is also a green space. It doesn’t have to be a complete space outside – a green space can be just a part of a building.”
On the topic of how green spaces are becoming a trend, Chan has a somewhat blasphemous opinion. “When it’s referred to as a trend, that’s the danger. When the owner or customer says, ‘It’s trendy, I want green’, it’s almost like saying, ‘I just want Want a green space, but I don’t care what it is.'”
Wong agrees. “You don’t want that to happen. You want that person to really care [the green space],” she says, pointing out that there is an ecosystem that needs to be taken care of.
,[When someone wants] To have a green space, that means it needs to understand how to care for it and really watch how the plants grow and bloom,” she adds.
Chan says people who are into green spaces as a trend will end up with fake plants, which then defeat the purpose of being green.
“Because all they want is the look. They want to take a picture, and that’s it. They don’t want to know what happens after that, the soiling, the pruning, the care—all dirty pieces.
“It’s prone to be a trend. If you want a green space, you really have to adopt it. It’s like getting a pet – you can’t just say you want a pet, But you don’t want to care about that.”
For them, the best green space is a semi-outdoor, such as a balcony or veranda.
“Maybe 10 years ago, people would say that a balcony or a verandah is a waste of space. And there was always this mindset that if there is a balcony or terrace, the owner would completely renovate the room to fill the balcony.
“It’s a bit useless because the balcony or the veranda is the best place … It’s indoors, but also outside. It’s a covered area – you’re in, but you’re also outside.”
management of expectations
For those trying to pursue a green space “lifestyle,” Wong advises them to go at their own pace.
“Because plants can die, so should you [be okay with] trying suitable plant species that can actually grow [in the environment you have], You need to do it moderately, at your own pace.”
Wong notes that for the plants in his office, pruning and fertilizing is done every month, and since different plant species have different water needs, it is very important to know how to hydrate the plants accordingly. How much water is needed for
Chan agrees, recalling how he began developing his own green space in the office. “There’s going to be a lot of trial and error. It was the same for us.
“So, if you’re starting out, just take something simple, a small plant, and watch it grow. If it grows, you get the next one,” he says.
On the other hand, it’s inevitable to feel frustrated when plants don’t grow properly, he says. It’s normal for most people to resort to fake plants, so there’s a need to start small and build up a collection of greens gradually, he recommends.
For students, potted plants and small terrariums would be a good place to start, say Chan and Wong.
Pets are another factor when planning a green space. Chan, who has cats, says it’s not difficult, but some flaws are to be expected, such as “large leaves with holes”.
“They will chew and they will bite,” he says of pets. “You can’t expect plants to be 100% perfect all the time. You just need to bear with it – your plants are alive, your pets are alive, so you just have to manage. It’s all about managing your expectations.” The idea is there; it’s not a picture-perfect thing.”
Wong agrees, adding that assimilation of plants also occurs in the surrounding area. “I think there’s another reason to want green space [in the office] This is because we want to see green space growing, and its growth assimilated with it. [growth of the business] Plus,” she says, highlighting how growing greenery can contribute to positive mental health.
limitless potential of green spaces
In an email interview with Leslie Tan, a design and construction consultant at Klassman Sdn Bhd, he defined green spaces as simply nature.
Unfortunately, he notes, “due to urbanization and industrialization, we are seeing less and less of natural green spaces”. “Most urbanites, in particular, value them.”
For them, green space is “a matter of putting certain plants together in an organized or random way to create a sense of nature. It can also be an ‘ecosystem’, physical activity, relaxation, social interaction and community.” venue of events.”
Classmen is an interior design and renovation company that caters to residences ranging from small condominium units to bungalows. With a team of 30 designers, it provides a wide range of design offerings for the mid to high end market in Peninsular Malaysia.
Klassman design and construction consultant Yvonne Oi says demand for green spaces at the company was “about 20%” during the pandemic, but he believes “this will increase gradually”.
One contributing factor is that there is no fixed size to convert an area into green space. “It is actually quite limitless. It can be as small as a 3 by 5 ft balcony or even a window sill,” she says.
On its maintenance, Tan says it depends on the plant species you choose to grow. “Some are extremely easy to maintain, but others will require some effort.”
For indoor green spaces, he recommends snake plants, spider plants, aloe vera, ferns, and ficuses. And for the outdoors, monsteras, foxtails, shrubs and fiddle-leaf figs.
A seamless integration of indoor and outdoor green spaces gives House 68, a family residence in Selangor, a tropical living environment
The incorporation of casual high-desk furniture next to a green façade can enhance the functionality of a green space.
Ooi notes that most of Klaasmen’s customers are concerned with the long-term maintenance that plants require. “As urbanites, they don’t have much leisure time,” she says, alluding to their typical multitasking lifestyle these days. So, they would love it if the company could come up with a “care-free green space solution,” which Klassman plans to pursue, she adds.
Tan says green spaces are becoming the norm in new residential developments. “Most good housing developments these days are designed with green spaces in mind because homeowners see value in them. Places with better green space planning usually give better value to property prices.”
Oi says it’s not just about the outside. “We are now seeing a trend where condominium homeowners will ask for indoor plants as well as converting their balcony into a small garden. This is certainly a sustainable lifestyle, now and in the future.”