Redevelopment of Bukit Jalil’s Sports Complex
Every units of this semester of my study that I’m currently undertaking is somehow related to architecture of sports facility. For my design studio, I have to design an indoor archery center. For my culture unit, I have to do research on sustainable architecture from stadiums in London 2012 Olympic Games, a topic that I chose myself. And for my technology unit, my kinetic skin concept somehow leads to practical implementation in stadiums in the form of retractable roof. And then there was the recently concluded Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games and the on-going Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Sports occupy most of my mind for this last half of the year.
Recently, I came across an article which stated that our National Sports Complex in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur will be undergoing a massive redevelopment. I’m quite happy after receiving that news because I seriously think the place needs a major makeover. It is now a deserted area with dilapidated and outdated structures, and nobody would want to go to that place unless there’s an event to attend. I also found that there is quite a potential to transform the whole sports complex into a vibrant and first class environment for athletes and visitors and to prepare it for future major sporting events. Here’s below is parts of the full article from the following source:
(Images below are also from the source above)
Bukit Jalil’s Reinvigoration – A new look in 2017 for one of the world’s biggest stadiums
Built in 1998 for the Commonwealth Games, Bukit Jalil Stadium is the heart of Malaysia’s sporting precinct that also includes a hockey stadium, an aquatic centre, an indoor stadium and a squash arena. Having hosted the Asian Cup in 2007 and exhibition matches involving English sides such as Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal in the past, the stadium needs no further introduction. It was also named in FourFourTwo’s 100 Best Football Stadium in the World last year.
The Bukit Jalil that many are accustomed to, however, will be a memory as a two-phase redevelopment of the area – before and after the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur – is set to put the KL Sports City onto the Asian sporting map in coming years. Singapore’s iconic Sports Hub is expected to have a decent rival less than an hour’s flight away.
Phase One, which involves a facelift for the stadium and other sporting facilities in the area, ends in July 2017. The stadium is not set for major changes under Phase Two, but massive redevelopment is planned on surrounding land till 2021, making the stadium’s use not feasible. Thus for half a year in 2017, the Bukit Jalil Stadium will offer a glimpse what’s in store when the dust eventually settles.
Is it all about the size?
Officially, Bukit Jalil stadium can seat 87,411 people – the largest in Southeast Asia after the Gelora Bung Karno in Indonesia had a reduction in capacity in 2007 – but it is no secret that the highest turnout may well have exceeded six figures as thousands have been seen on stairways, corridors and even encroaching the media tribune during high-profile matches in the past. The construction of a new level of corporate boxes is set to push the capacity to 90,000. If history repeats in terms of overcrowding, the numbers could soar higher again.
The new level – Level 3M – is being constructed between the existing second and third tiers on the same side as the grandstand and can only be accessed from the stadium lobby. The stadium is a sure bet destination for European clubs looking to make Southeast Asia a pit stop to widen their fan base and exploit commercial gains. There simply isn’t a suitable larger stadium in Asia, unless North Korea is on their radar.
With major redevelopment plans taking place in the vicinity starting in 2018, a lot of effort has been put in to ensuring the 18-year-old stadium still stands out. Bukit Jalil will get a new facade, a silver vertical structure to move away from its naked look of old. At night, that facade can turn into a light show and be colour coordinated to suit the occasion. More landscaping is planned around the stadium to encourage the public to consider the venue a location for an evening stroll.
Changing rooms, a warm-up area, walkways, access gates and media areas are being redesigned while the stadium’s lobby underwent a restructuring to cater for newly-installed escalators and lifts to the corporate boxes. Spectator seats are also in for a change to meet current Fire & Safety standards. The stadium also gets a new athletics track but the football pitch remains, something Malaysian Stadium Corporation (MSC) insist is being well taken care off despite on-going renovation.
Little thought was put into technology when the stadium was built. Apart from its looks and a digital scoreboard, Bukit Jalil is far from what you would call a technologically advanced stadium. Over the years, the stadium has built quite a reputation for jammed phones lines and unstable internet connection. Media personnel considered themselves lucky if wi-fi services were available, and whether or not the connection was stable came secondary, unlike the fast stable connections available in leading stadiums around the world.
That will soon be a thing of the past as the stadium will be fitted with fiber optic cables to provide high-speed connectivity. Spectators will also enjoy pre-paid wi-fi services, so gone are the days when being in a full stadium meant being out of reach. Other improvements include fixed stations for broadcast cameras, a high-definition big screen and light-emitting diode (LED) floodlights that can be controlled to suit different needs such as a football match, an athletics meet or a concert.
The MSC are also building a mobile application to enable visitors better access to just about every piece of information there is on the stadium and its side attractions. The full works of the app, however, are only expected to be known once more facilities are introduced in 2021. MSC is looking to maximise engagement with the public in the hope it will draw a crowd on a regular basis.
Access to the stadium is relatively easy on a sunny day but when it pours, even getting out of the train station can be havoc. But not anymore. A covered walkway is being constructed from the station to the stadium. Public amenities such as toilets, food & beverage outlets and prayer rooms are also being upgraded and will be more friendly for people with disabilities. The location of a viewing/seating area for the disabled is also improved as the present one at the top of the first-tier does not offer a good vantage point.
A sporting ground for all
Next time you visit Bukit Jalil Stadium, make sure to bring either your bicycle or jogging shoes. A Commonwealth Hill Park was part of the big project in the 1990s and though still used today, its upkeep has been close to none apart from the trimming of grass. Unknown to many, there was also a recreational area with public courts situated behind the hockey stadium which has been underutilised for years. So much so, there were even squatters in the area at one point.
There has been no mention of upgrading those areas or whether it will make way for other developments, but one thing confirmed is a jogging and cycling track that partially surrounds Bukit Jalil Stadium and other facilities in the venue. Phase Two of plans, meanwhile, will include the construction of multipurpose outdoor courts for public use.
I’m surprised that this news didn’t get much attention despite scale of the redevelopment. I’m impressed of turning parts of the current massive unappealing parking areas into fluid landscaping. However, reducing parking may not be a good option especially when you have huge event that is going to be attended by tens of thousand of people. There is also not much detail revealed yet despite the redevelopment is going to commence soon.
I would love to see the whole new redevelopment masterplan to further understand how it will look in overall layout after the transformation. There isn’t any body of water currently on the Bukit Jalil Sports Complex. There is this current trend of having a stream of water cutting through a sports complex (usually seen in Olympic Parks across the world) for aesthetic and I’m not against such idea since I saw the proposal of having similar approach in the last rendering above.
The new facade for the main outdoor stadium looks nice but is that the only proposal submitted? It would be much better if international and local architects are invited to submit design to give a new makeover to the stadium rather than just sticking to one proposal. Maybe once all this is completed, Malaysia would be much more ready to join hand with Singapore to host future Olympic Games. I also noticed there is still vast empty land near the Astro headquarter which is adjacent to the Bukit Jalil Sports Complex that can be developed for more facilities (temporary sporting venues, athletes’ village, media center, parks) if Malaysia is indeed serious on pursuing the hosting job to the Olympics.
I have written my thoughts. Now, what do you think of this redevelopment? Feel free to comment.
And by the way, Happy Malaysia Day!