“Don’t think like a city planner, architect or engineer. Think like a citizen.” This is what the founder of urban planning, Ildefons Cerdà, was thought to have said when he proposed to transform the sprawling city of Barcelona into a liveable and organised community. In rebuilding the city, Cerdà thought about the people first, not the buildings.
Even today, Barcelona’s cityscape remains an exemplary model for architects and urban planners around the world. Do a quick Google image search on “Barcelona Aerial View,” and you will understand why.
From above, the octagonal building blocks are lined along straight roads that are both parallel and adjacent to each other. There are wide pedestrian lanes on each side of the street, providing ample space for activity, be it selling churros from a roadside stall or playing futsal with a group of friends.
This describes the iconic “grid system” pioneered by Cerdà, whose blueprint has been adapted in cities all over Europe and the US. Setia Safiro general manager Goh Tzen Sernz said he was inspired by the concept of outdoor living that Barcelona, which he has visited twice, afforded its residents. He also learnt and adopted a great deal from the fundamental principles of connectivity, walk-ability and sustainability.
“When we look at infrastructure, the first thing is that it has to be convenient, with easy access. The second, is making spaces interesting enough that you would want to walk on them,” Goh said. “Lastly, is the question of sustainability—you can build anything but can you maintain it?” The answers to these questions can be found in the heart of the fast-developing Cyberjaya, where Barcelona’s seminal design principles culminate in Setia Eco Glades’ Setia Safiro.
Named after the Spanish word for “sapphire”, the 57-acre development packs in the signature DNA of Setia Eco Glades and boasts many luxury amenities, such as a community clubhouse, solar-powered garden lights, a smart community app and 24-hour security system. Located just 5km from Setia Eco Glades, Setia Safiro is an extension of the award-winning township a joint venture in between S P Setia Bhd and Setia Haruman Sdn Bhd.
Focusing on elements like fresh air, green spaces and proximity to markets — just like Cerdà — the S P Setia team envisioned a self-sustainable, smart and secure neighbourhood with its community as its cornerstone.
Neighbourhood made for walking
Walking on the streets of Barcelona is a poetic experience. Its streets, featuring wide and long pavements, are lined with lush green trees. There is a pocket of space or courtyard at every intersection, for sitting, relaxing or even having a barbecue.
In Barcelona, people head to the streets because they are an extension of their homes. It is precisely this blurring of the line between what is outside and inside the homes that is the guiding principle of Setia Safiro. It boasts a main grid and axis that cuts through the neighbourhood, each a statement of waterways and green spaces. A Spanish-themed floating clubhouse serves as the entrance statement of the neighbourhood, equipped with swimming pools, community halls, a gym and a playground.
A 738m-long stream cuts through the main axis with nine uniquely designed bridges connecting the east and west sides of the neighbourhood. “The stream, lined with juniper and pine trees, is the spine of Setia Safiro, along which people can walk, jog and mingle,” Goh said.
The stream ends at a 4.8-acre hilltop park, where residents can rest and relax with a bird’s-eye view of their community. Here, a proposed “Spanish Steps” feature is in the works. It will comprise a series of meandering walkways through undulating slopes, reminiscent of Antoni Gaudi’s Park Güell.
The hilltop park will also be dotted with shaded gazebos, yoga and barbecue pavilions, exercise stations and lookout plazas. With lush greenery and water cascading from the top of a slope, it is the perfect place for residents to bask in the sun and enjoy the breeze.
“People might not appreciate the outdoors because of our climate. They also want to walk with peace of mind, within safe and secure environments,” Goh said. “So, we have to ensure the residents that, with CCTV, they are in a safe compound.”
As a solution to Malaysia’s tropical heat, shady trees have been planted along each promenade while lush pocket gardens with gazebos connect each street and the back lanes. Trees are also planted along the centre stream to create a sense of privacy for residents, separating the walkways and parks from the homes themselves.
Water fountains are also a feature along the running stream, allowing the cold wind breeze to sweep through the spine of the neighbourhood. “We have made it more interesting for the residents to walk around,” said Goh.
“That’s the whole idea of creating pocket gardens and waterways. We want the residents to have a different kind of walking journey.” Indeed, the pocket gardens are Setia Safiro’s hallmark. They each have their own unique gazebos mimicking Spanish design. Together with these are signature orchard gardens, dotted along the back lanes of the neighbourhood.
Here, mango and papaya trees are planted, whose fruits the residents can freely enjoy. Goh and his team were adamant in keeping the land’s existing terrain, where undulating slopes are perfect to meander and explore, creating an ecosystem where the birds and squirrels co-exist with residents.
“The authorities only require 10% of greenery within a residential land. Instead, we have allocated 25% of Setia Safiro’s 57 acres to be planted with trees,” Goh said. When stratified neighbourhoods and vertical living have resulted in people becoming more isolated than ever, the open spaces in this neighbourhood is teeming with life and activity.
Setia Safiro’s homes are affordable with prices for the 2-storey freehold units (built-ups of 1,800 to 2,000 sq ft) starting at RM700,000. Phase 1, comprising 166 units, is slated to be launched by end-June this year.
Malaysian buyers can take advantage of the Home Ownership Campaign (HOC) from now until June 30. During this time, the government is offering stamp duty exemptions on the instrument of transfer and instrument of loan agreements. “Landed properties are getting fewer because of the scarcity of land. More people are living in vertical units due to urbanisation. So, I think landed properties are considered jewels in the property market,” Goh observed.
In fact, the recent launch of Reef of Tropics at Setia Eco Glades saw 152 double-storey units sold out within two days. When Goh and his team visualised Setia Safiro, they did not want to build homes for a single demographic. It did not matter how old the buyers were, what they did, where they worked and who they lived with.
Essentially the development caters for two fundamental desires of homebuyers: to carve a meaningful home in a meaningful community affordably, and to create a home that meets one’s personal needs.
“Malaysians have different needs at different stages of their lives. If they are still single, they would probably want a space for parties. But if they have children, they could convert the space into rooms or use it for storage,” said Goh.
Setia Safiro’s three-bedroom and three-bathroom units are modular and customisable at minimal cost. According to the needs of residents, dry walls can be easily built as partitions to create two additional bedrooms, which means five bedrooms and three bathrooms. “This is what we call a flexible floor plan,” said Goh.
Setia Safiro is also connected to major facilities, such as hospitals, educational centres and shopping malls. More importantly, the neighbourhood is easily accessible via major highways such as the Maju Expressway (MEX), North-South Expressway Central Link (ELITE) and South Klang Valley Expressway (SKVE).
MEX is expected to be extended from Cyberjaya to KLIA by 2022, shortening the travel time from Setia Safiro to the airport from 25 minutes to a mere 10 minutes. Additionally, two more MRT stations — Cyberjaya North and Cyberjaya South — will be completed in 2021.
A township that celebrates the future
While taking a cue from the developer’s past successes, Setia Safiro is taking a step towards the future. Thus, it is important for it to integrate technology into the community to enhance the quality of life for its residents.
One such facility is the Smart Community App, a holistic system for security and community services. “If you have visitors,” Goh said, “they will have to register at the guard house, and then the guards will call you. But if you don’t pick up your phone, they will have to wait.”
What the Smart Community App does is that it sends a unique barcode to residents and their friends whenever they plan to visit. “So, when your friends arrive at the guard house, they just have to scan the barcode to enter the neighbourhood,” Goh added.
The app also enables residents to pay their maintenance fees, all on one platform. Community messages and notices can also be published on the app. As affordability, safety and sustainability remain key criteria for homebuyers in Malaysia, Setia Safiro has set an example on how residents can live in vibrant communities that elevate one’s lifestyle and well-being for years to come. “We don’t just build houses,” said Goh. “We build communities that last forever.”