Saturday, 31 October 2009

Ecotransitional Urbanism: A Case Study on Urban Hyper Densification

Hyper densification on urban areas, conditions of sprawl, rapid urbanization and transmigration process pose significant challenges to urban design practices. The case studies here try to approach these conditions beyond formal, quick fix solution and emerged into a practice where 'landscape' and 'urbanism' are treated as a model of connective, scalar and temporal operations through which the urban condition is conceived and engaged as a complex and processual ecology.

Industri Dalam - Design Issues and Strategies

Monday, 26 October 2009

Housing Dilemma in Industri Dalam, Bandung

Complex and contradictory conditions, impermanency and transitions are opportunities for architecture and urbanism. The area of Industri Dalam, Bandung is the perfect site in examining this generative housing issues in urban areas. Its instability and dynamism offer opportunities for architects, urban designers and landscape architects to look beyond products and venture into a more sophisticated process that hopefully will reveal the hidden potentialities of housing settlements of the urban poor. Through the manifold identification of various paradigms in daily life, generating alternative design solutions would offer a sustainable and fair living condition for these marginalized society. This analysis on the condition of the site is hoped to provide a guiding framework in determining strategies and thinking process in the search of this alternative design scheme.

Click here for the full analysis on this area.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Evening Video Presentation at SAPPK ITB

Studio Pei-Zhu: A Study on Design Approaches

Studio Pei Zhu is an avant-garde architectural practice based in Beijing, China. The practice belief in practical solutions in reflecting their strong and innovative conceptual thinking in design. Their design approaches are always critical in resolving problems in modern China’s complex mixture of traditional and contemporary settings.

Design Philosophy
Studio Pei Zhu’s philosophy in responding to the above mentioned complex context are always a reflexive one. The current rapid modernization of urban China is being seen as a mix-marriage between old and new, thus forcing their design thinking and approach to adapt a kind of exploration in reconnecting the modern urban conditions to its roots, which are very rich, culturally and socially.

This philosophy has led the design practice to a unique method of reinterpreting the vernacular in a contemporary context. Most of their projects are being treated as tools in connecting process to products.

Design Objectives and Methods
In connecting design process to its final products, which is the way the practice function, Studio Pei Zhu has establish a strong framework in producing architectural pieces with unique aspiration, which they hope to be responsive and reflexive enough to survive and make a better impact in the rapid phase of modernization that China is experiencing.

The process of exploring various methods in approaching each design problems are always being conducted within a strong hold belief in an abstract insertion of old and new. This will reconnect modernity with its tradition, thus not making the final product to be an alien piece within the rich urban fabric and local context.

This process is hoped to reflect their philosophy in expressing their strong and innovative conceptual thinking in producing something that is critical and at the same time, practical to their end users. They are also active in engaging public dialogues regarding subject matters that are related to on-going shifts in cultural paradigm and identity issues.

By doing this, they hoped to engage not only public opinions, but also design techniques and materials, which are contemporary in rethinking cultural approaches in the process of designing architecture. This is being seen as a contributing factor for the practice to a more regional variance of contemporary architecture, which is appropriate to its local context.

Case Study: Caiguo Qiang Courtyard House
This small-scale renovation project that has earned Studio Pei Zhu a worldwide recognition from many architectural publications and awards adapted their design philosophy and approaches in a very responsive way. Their belief in reconnecting the old and new is being successfully translated by the process of inserting a new intervention in an old and almost dilapidated site condition. The new design was carefully positioned and configured to sits in harmony with its vernacular setting. The modern-looking, contemporary new house is being treated as a new product that will complement the old surrounding, without killing the original traditionalist neighborhood.

From the analysis and observation on the practice Studio Pei Zhu through their statements, design objectives and beliefs in approaching the built environment in a responsive way, there are some criticisms that I would like to express, especially with their design for the Xixi Wetland Art Museum.

From several resources (journals, public opinions, design critiques) that touched upon the design product of this new museum, it is being understood that somehow, Studio Pei Zhu has betrayed their own philosophical beliefs in approaching architectural design problems. The new intervention is being seen by the local community of that area as something that have no reference to anything local, thus is a desecration towards the context.

The smooth blob white surface of the iconoclastic museum does not reflect any of their design language of contextualism or vernacular approaches in a contemporary condition. The design is being questioned by the public for its alien appearance, which is difficult to be understood and accepted. Probably looking things from the past, coupled with some innovation would be more appreciated by the public at large?

Thursday, 22 October 2009

'Coretan Dinding' and the Marginalized Urban Poor

Coretan di dinding membuat resah
Resah hati pencoret mungkin ingin tampil
Tepi lebih resah pembaca coretannya
Sebab coretan  di dinding adalah pemberontakan
Kucing hitam yang terpojok di tiap tempat sampah
Ditiap kota...
Cakarnya siap dengan kuku-kuku tajam
Matanya menyala mengawasi gerak musuhnya
Musuhnya adalah penindas
Yang menganggap remeh coretan dinding kota
Coretan dinding terpojok di tempat sampah
Kucing hitam dan penindas sama-sama resah

Iwan FalsRahman Tardjana

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Community Based Movement as Alternative Solution in Housing Issues

Today's visit to the housing area in Pasirkaliki, Bandung, Indonesia was an eye opener. In seeing urban housing issues, particularly in Indonesia, we cannot avoid from being bombarded with various questions regarding multiple social-economy-cultural paradigm. These paradigms often come together with the complex problems in housing condition, especially when it involves the marginalized urban poor.

The current area is made up of unique, complex and often contradictory compositions of flats, squatter housings, old factories, cremation building, urban infrastructures and a railway. The mostly ‘spontaneous’ structures found around the site are always being seen as ‘illegal’ and unfit for the rapid urban development for the city of Bandung, which is worryingly being controlled by the capitalistic policy of the city.

In searching for innovative solutions in revealing and exploiting the potential of these issues, housing design must be seen as a process, rather than creating formal assumption based on previous rules of thumb or general theories. Probably the problems of dwelling in this area are supposed to be treated equally with the problem of those above-mentioned problems of paradigms. Not only the physical condition of this housing area shall be explored, but also certainly, the most important point of view is to understand the psychological and thinking behavior of the society that has made up the area as what it is today. These basic thinking and behavioral issues of dwelling will be the guiding path in selecting, reducing, summarizing and developing problems and issues into potential, innovative and localized design solutions.   

To be able to understand the way of thinking of the dwellers of this area, a strong community based movement is being seen as the most suitable approach in searching for alternative solutions which hopefully will benefit the users, surrounding environment as well as a long lasting tool for capacity building. Probably the best intervention is not only creative design, but also a self-helped, conscientious program is most needed in securing a better and fair living environment for the marginalized urban poor community. 

Photo Credit: I Ketut Dirgantara

Tuesday, 20 October 2009


The unrealized t-shirt design from CARIMASAJALANTUKAR

Design: Sabri Idrus and Hafiz Amirrol, The Painting Hall 2009

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Heuristic Reasoning in Architectural Design

Heuristic thinking in developing rapid solution for architectural design problems particularly during post disaster reconstruction. This concept of design thinking analysis bears a resemblance to the phenomenal problem solving method of Maurice Merleau-Ponty's concept of Situation.

Click here for the full analysis presentation.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Disaster Management Center (Revisited from 2004)

Natural disasters are undeniably increasing due to such factors as urbanization, population growth, destruction of the natural environment and climate change, and the Asian region accounts for nearly 90% of the world’s affected population.
Catastrophic natural disasters not only cause huge losses of human life, but also can result in enormous economic losses that exceed the GDP of the affected countries and inhibit the achievement of sustainable development. Human suffering is more acute in developing countries, especially those that are severely impoverished. Moreover, disasters often stem from the most unexpected and highly vulnerable elements of a society, that is, from vulnerabilities that societies tend to overlook. To address the risks that arise from these often misunderstood vulnerabilities, it is essential to conduct comprehensive, holistic and integrated disaster reduction activities in an efficient and effective manner.
This design proposal was intended as a place where all disaster risk reduction activities and management to be conducted, and operated under the banner of MERCY Malaysia (a non-profit based Malaysian NGO). It was designed in such a way that daily public activities, which took place on the proposed site before the intervention, to still continue to take place, and also to be extended into some parts of the building components programmes. This idea is to encourage public participation, which makes up what a social service organization is all about. By allowing daily operations inside the building to be seen and accessed, it is hoped that more people will be interested in joining, contributing and participating in the field of humanitarian works.

Substation Skin (Revisited from 2004)

Dealing with change doesn’t always have to be designed to work out well. The fact that the almost ubiquitous substations nationwide were designed to reflect the Malaysian culture – is a well known brutalist desperate attempt. However, technicality has forced architecture to picnic by the streets, exposed, connected to a larger context. Preoccupied with both spontaneous and precise material engagement with site, surely a reconception to such provocative design is the most frightening and exhilarating thing to do. The new substation did not debate which concept is better, but is celebrating the potential of any design to be at the site, respecting its surrounding and props. The message wasn’t that the new substation is wonderful, but that is subjective, as unique, vital, and open to interpretation. This substation skin design proposal is, by definition, a striking furniture in the landscape and as a reflection of the modern local context.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Float Garden Public Bath - Model

Float Garden Public Bath

Acknowledgement: Baskoro Tedjo, Ridwan Kamil, Achmad Tardiyana, Tan Tik Lam