More often than not, in a parent-child relationship, the parent assumes a mentoring position with the child. But every now and then, there may be a reversal of roles and parents find themselves learning from the child, and something beautiful is born from this experience. Selangor Dredging Bhd (SDB) managing director Teh Lip Kim, found herself in this unique position when she discovered that her son Ming was on the autism spectrum.
“In 2006, my eldest son was diagnosed with autism and my whole world collapsed — personally and emotionally. I was thinking, ‘How can I cure him?’ My husband is a doctor but, with autism, there is no medical cure. It was quite a revelation as I had to be him. I had to read into what he was thinking. From every eye contact he made and every word he said, I had to think as if I was him and I had to see things through his eyes,” Teh says.
“That allowed me to be more intuitive with colours and spaces, and that was how we developed Selangor Dredging’s [design] DNA. It was also through working with a lot of international architects and landscape people and looking at things from their perspective, and feeling certain emotions — not just visually but also through the ears, smell and touching — that is how we managed to put it into practice.”
Today, SDB’s DNA is a well-mapped guide which ensures that the core look and feel of the spaces it builds are not lost in translation over time and across projects. Teh tells us that one of the key features of SDB properties is its rectilinear floor plan that brings in more light. A biophilic approach to the external spaces examines how various elements of the landscape connect harmoniously with one another, such as planting particular trees that attract certain types of songbirds.
For example, under SDB’s Windows on the Park project at Bandar Tun Hussein Onn, Cheras, the park was designed first and the homes were built around it in order to cultivate a thriving ecosystem. A three-layer planting system with carefully chosen flora resulted in trees such as meranti and nyatoh rising high above everything, followed by medium-sized canopy species such as simpoh and membrilla forming the second layer with understory species, smaller plants and ferns at the bottom.
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