BMSPA 2021: An ode to nature - Essex Gardens @ Setia Eco Templer

Misty mornings, cool breezes, rolling forests and gurgling brooks – these are what you can take pleasure in at Setia Eco Templer, Rawang, Selangor.

The 195-acre Setia Eco Templer township by S P Setia Bhd is set between the Kanching and Templer’s Park Rainforest Reserves while the hills of Bukit Takun serve as its backdrop.

Recently completed in 2019 is the 55-acre Essex Gardens, the largest residential phase in the township with 234 landed homes comprising bungalows, semi-detached houses and link villas that are designed to emulate an English countryside albeit in a tropical setting. Its name is derived from the hometown of Sir Gerald Templer, whose journey to Malaya is part of the inspiration for its design concept that is anchored by its landscaping.

The landscaping in Essex Gardens and Setia Eco Templer displays the developer’s sustainability and environmental consciousness from the get-go as it serves to preserve and enhance the area’s natural beauty and ecosystem.

O2 Lagoon is the confluence of Carson Creek and Alresford Creek.
O2 Lagoon is the confluence of Carson Creek and Alresford Creek.

Construction of the homes and facilities was done with minimal environmental impact and carved according to the natural terrain and original topography while buffer zones were created next to the Templer’s Park Rainforest Reserve to protect its wildlife from noise created by human activity.

Besides the numerous pocket gardens and facilities, like the Essex Play Park and the Watcher’s Cove, there is the Natural Park. Created next to a buffer zone, it is a designated bird-watching park and wetland. It also acts as a meeting point between the neighbourhood and the Templer’s Park Rainforest Reserve. This park is where some 250 of the site’s original trees have been kept to preserve the existing bird-nesting sites.

Another highlight of Essex Gardens is its waterways. Out of the nine creeks which were discovered on the Setia Eco Templer development site, the residents of Essex Gardens have the privilege of six of these flowing through their grounds.

Not only are they aesthetically pleasing and a natural habitat for fauna, they also function as part of the area’s drainage system and as stormwater retention ponds for the irrigation of communal areas. On top of that, they are also natural security barriers to discourage intruders.

The Setia Eco Templer team has also found a healthy population of indigenous fish and aquatic plants in the six creeks as well as in the Rangkap River flowing along the western border of Essex Gardens. Inspired by this discovery, the team has created breeding grounds along the waterways for the fish to flourish.

The meticulous attention given to its landscaping is undeniable. At the EdgeProp Malaysia’s Best Managed & Sustainable Property Awards 2021, Essex Gardens was a Gold winner of the EdgeProp-ILAM Malaysia’s Sustainable Landscape Awards in the Landscape Design category.

Opportunity to raise awareness

The sustainable strategies implemented at Essex Gardens have contributed to ease of maintenance while cost is kept relatively low. Among these measures are the transplanting and preservation of the original trees at the site; selecting plants that offer long-term sustainability; as well as preserving indigenous fish and aquatic plants, and flora and fauna. The project also uses LED garden lights and solar power. Notably, it uses solar-powered mosquito eliminator instead of fogging.

The cottage garden concept is complemented by pocket gardens.
The cottage garden concept is complemented by pocket gardens.

“With the abundance of nature at their doorsteps, the landscape in Essex Gardens is designed to encourage its residents to engage more with nature,” says S P Setia senior executive vice president Datuk Koe Peng Kang.

It also offers the developer the opportunity to educate and raise awareness among its residents on sustainability and their roles in conserving the environment.   

“The residents enjoy Essex Gardens so much that they want more varieties of flora and fauna to be added, but sometimes this may be harmful to the ecosystem of the park. Foreign species may be threats to the native species. Some may not understand the philosophy of why the waterway, for instance, has been created a certain way with certain species of fish. We have residents who have tried to add various types of fish including the Haruan into the river but it could eat up all the native species in the river,” recalls Koe.

The plant selections of the pocket gardens were inspired by the colours of the crown jewels of England.

Yet, their eagerness should not be dampened. What is important is to teach the community about the ecosystem at Essex Gardens, says Koe. “They (residents) do these things because they believe in it and want to contribute to it (the ecosystem). They have seen and experienced it. They know the value that has been created and they want to be a part of it.”

Sustainability is not just a big part of developing Essex Gardens and Setia Eco Templer, but a principle widely applied to every S P Setia’s Eco phase which began with Setia Eco Park in Setia Alam.

The developer believes that projects must be built in harmony with nature. “If you do not live in harmony with nature, nature will punish you, to some extent,” he says. 

Therefore, Koe opines that it is important to believe in the concept of sustainability and even more importantly, to extend this belief to every team member in a project.

Koe: With the abundance of nature at their doorsteps, the landscape in Essex Gardens is designed to encourage its residents to engage more with nature.

“The challenge is to hold on to your belief (in sustainability) even if people make fun of you. As developers, we have the responsibility to create things that will last for generations. We can harness our power to make life more sustainable. Otherwise, it is a waste of effort.”

Koe hopes that going forward, Essex Gardens and Setia Eco Templer residents will be motivated to be more in touch with the rich nature that surrounds them, and more importantly, live in harmony with its flora and fauna.

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