A Little Bird Told Me . . .

Kuching- based property developer Bobby Ting is creating a foundation which will deliver a unique housing solution to low income families. “ I decided that I would try to find a way of creating a CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) programme for Elica which has a tangible and practical outcome for these needy people.” says Bobby. – His award-winning Elica Property Group is currently developing a number of high-end residential and mixed commercial projects.

Bobby’s wife Shentel Lee Ting is a talented graphic designer as well as a retail entrepreneur involved in a number of highly successful fashion brands trading under ‘The Playground’ banner. The two sat down and discussed how best they could pool their abilities to ensure a successful outcome for their programme.

Whilst working towards her design degree at UTS in Sydney, Shentel was mentored by designer David Mackay who had come to Australia after an international career working on a large variety of different design projects and who had most recently been developing a fresh approach to Aboriginal housing in the remote outback.

Bobby and Shentel therefore invited David along to join the Elica team.

As soon as David arrived in Kuching he toured the area and met with local charity workers, as well as possible manufacturers and suppliers. “I was immediately struck by everyone’s enthusiasm and eagerness to contribute.” he comments. “ The traditional Malaysian village community is a colourful, vibrant environment and this is something we plan to reflect in our final design outcome. We want each home to be a bright, happy space which each family can identify with in and take pride in. This has even included the creation of the project’s ‘quirky’ name and fun graphics!”

‘KitKotak’ is a combination of the words ‘kit’ and ‘kotak’ and literally means ‘tiny box’. David hopes that this distinctive name will rapidly become linked with Elica’s unique CSR housing initiative.

After considering a range of options, the team have developed a freestanding, low cost home designed around a repurposed twenty foot shipping container. “Having visited and spoken with families living in make-shift wooden houses, we could see that there were a whole series of practical issues which led us to base our idea around a shipping container because it’s tough, watertight and highly adaptable.” says Shentel. The KitKotak house will be delivered to its final location fully fitted out, ready to be connected to the basic services already positioned under its timber deck – this deck will also raise the home above the potential flood level.

“We are working towards a final design with two basic orientations depending on the site.” says David. The K2 plan will feature a long deck parallel to the length of the container with a large pitched roof over the basic box to provide shade, reduce heat and capture rainwater. The K1 is similar but is entered from one end, and has a smaller square deck. This version will be specified for narrow blocks. The homes are equipped with shower, toilet and basic kitchen areas. There is a communal family area with a flat screen TV and space for seating and storage. All the materials used have been chosen because they are hardwearing and easy to maintain.

“Speed of manufacture and installation are key issues for us” says Bobby.“It is also vital that the we can achieve a realistic production cost so that we can provide as many homes as possible. We hope to install the first K2 in September and to roll out a further ten by the end of the year.”

Whilst visiting the Sarawak countryside David noticed the industrious little ‘sparrows’ that hop around everywhere. “We decided to make our mascot a cheeky little bird called KitKotak. We hope she will bring future good fortune to these deserving families!” He says with a smile.