Reinventing Johor Bahru

Having opened its doors in June 2016, Think City’s Johor Bahru office and its team of citymakers have been tirelessly inventing the historic royal city.



Think City came to Johor Bahru in the midst of the city’s rejuvenation process and was brought on board as a strategic partner in the heritage management plan, with involvement in most of the projects for the city’s heritage quarter.

“What we’re doing is to bring the lessons learnt from other cities, working together with local stakeholders like the JB City Hall, the Iskandar Regional Development Authority and the local community to see how existing initiatives can be enhanced, to make them more feasible and sustainable,” says Daniel Lim, Think City’s JB Programme Manager.

“We are not trying to reinvent the wheel here. Our role is more to work with our partners to catalyse community participation in the transformation process.”

One of Think City’s first initiatives was a cultural mapping exercise of downtown JB to understand the ‘intangible’ values of the local community (as opposed to ‘tangible’ assets such as buildings and infrastructure). Intangibles would involve their routines, lifestyles, perceptions and values. The survey found that the area possessed a dynamic mix of young and upcoming entrepreneurs, multi-generational businesses and long established societies.

“You have the younger set opening up hip new cafes and tourist lodges. And then you have another community who has been here for generations,” says Daniel.

“We want to be tuned in to local sensitivities and dynamics. This is important for us to align our interventions with the community’s intangibles. We want to learn from each other, as each city has different challenges and scenarios.”

“Taking cues from the cultural mapping study, what we want to do is to contribute our technical knowledge, engage with the local community, and facilitate place-making activities, amongst other projects that can improve the city.”


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