Defining Modern Living


A choice between ethics, conveniences, minimalism and smart automation

By Viktor Chong viktorchong@thestar.com.my

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Modern living is a loose term since every individual has a personal interpretation and expectation of this concept. For some, the trappings of a bustling metropolis are attractive, with all amenities and facilities within arms reach or walking distance.

Then there are the city-weary folks who wish for a home enclosed in nature but not isolated from conveniences. Others want a house that connects directly to transit stations, while some embrace automation such as smart houses as the way forward.

For Esprit Estate Agent Sdn Bhd probationary estate agent Bavanie Suppiah, the advancement of civilisation should be supported by the underlying need for conservation. She said that the power of the internet has made people more aware of environmental and health issues, and individuals nowadays like planting their own herbs and vegetables.

Towards a greener future

Bavanie believes human progress should complement nature, not go against it.

Bavanie believes human progress should complement nature, not go against it.

Bavanie believes self-sustainable features should be incorporated in life, such as vertical planting areas, a community garden with compost pits, and the presence of recycling bins in the house and community.

Technologically, rainwater harvesting system, biometric door lock, solar-powered heater and community apps are some of the conveniences to modernise a development. Regarding interior design, she suggested that it should complement the lifestyle of the busy city people.

“As life is so hectic outside, people prefer to have it simple, useful and easy on the inside,” she advised. The design should be uncomplicated, with less messy furnishings, huge glasses for natural lighting and eco-friendly components.

When asked about her home, Bavanie said she lives in a 40-year-old single-storey semi-detached unit, whose backyard connects to a Chinese cemetery. She tries to incorporate modern style into the home by building an exposed brick wall between the backyard and the house. Also, the family had built a wooden awning from used timber and roof tiles.

Location, location, location

A house buyer by the name of Lai Soo Ching, 29, placed much emphasis on the availability of nearby amenities as a requirement for modern living. “It is a place surrounded by all your basic needs such as grocery shops, school, restaurant, clinic or hospital,” he said. 

Nick Wong Tien Roong, 30, is content with the basic requirements, saying that a modern development should have a gym, pool, 24-hour laundromat and a minimum of one outdoor sports facility. Just like Lai, he finds it important to be able to access public transportation and malls without much travelling.

Chan favours interior design and furniture with space-saving features.

Chan favours interior design and furniture with space-saving features.

“In my own definition, modern living is a lifestyle that is focused on the concept of minimalism,” said 29-year-old John Mark Chan Kian Lim. He finds a smart home ecosystem appealing and favours interior design and furniture with space-saving features.

With Vivahomes Realty Sdn Bhd senior negotiator Jaleela Banu, modernisation should enhance and ease one’s personal lifestyle. “For example, tiny houses have become more than just a trend overseas, but it is now a modern choice that allows owners to be debt-free,” she observed.

Jaleela who lived in a double-storey terrace house at Kota Kemuning, Shah Alam described the township as one filled with many amenities and conveniences. However, traffic jams during peak periods can be quite a hassle. Although, she has little to complain about her house, which comes with air conditioning, central water heating system, kitchen and hob.

Jaleela said tiny houses have become a trend overseas.

Jaleela said tiny houses have become a trend overseas.

“It is conducive enough to be considered as modern living for me. I am glad and ever grateful that I do not have to gather wood in my backyard to start my cooking,” she said. Back to the topic of modern living, Jaleela commented that it is essential to provide living comfort, security, good medical care and easy access to local infrastructures.

“The construction of caring-convenient facilities serves this new future market that is enticing to both investors and homeowners,” she explained, noting that clubhouse facilities seemed to have become a contemporary development culture in the market.

Modern homes will be smarter

Ong pointed out that the organisation of community events and gatherings are equally important in modern living.

Ong pointed out that the organisation of community events and gatherings are equally important in modern living.

There are also developers like IJM Land Bhd who are out to reshape the contemporary concept of living. “We considered many aspects to make our designs stand out and at the same time be practical,” said IJM Land senior general manager Datuk Hoo Kim See.

These aspects include colours, creative design, space utilisation and placement of furniture. The smart home system feature includes synchronisation of remote control for house lighting, air conditioning and door sensors. Moreover, every unit of its latest development Rimbun Impian is installed with a digital door lock which allows access in and out of the home using either card keys, mechanical keys or PIN code, reducing the hassle of using keys.

Not unlike Hoo, KLCT International Realty Sdn Bhd director of sales (Northern Region) Dominic Ong pointed out technology as the central theme when modern living is concerned. This may involve state-of-the-art facilities, and not just the common mix of swimming pool, gym, and three-tier security.

“We are talking about smart home systems with the latest apps that can communicate with our handphone,” said Ong. He added that this application should allow users holistic control over the property without being physically present, such as temperature management, pre-heating from the water heater, activation of the coffee machine, and others.

Ideally, it resembles a home for the privileged, yet low profile with facilities and common areas that are simple, usable, notwithstanding affordable service charges. The exterior function may involve Ipads or built-in apps in the phone, which supports user’s interaction with security guards, the ability to view CCTV cameras or allow booking of facilities.

Putting tech aside, Ong also broached the importance of human elements, such as the organisation of community events or gatherings that involve sports. Such indoor and outdoor activities are crucial to cultivating a healthy and friendly neighbourhood to live in.

Depending on features, the latest smart home technology can notify owners via phone when an unauthorised entry occurs in the house, with the available option of calling in the authorities.

Depending on features, the latest smart home technology can notify owners via phone when an unauthorised entry occurs in the house, with the available option of calling in the authorities.

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