Heterogeneous mass: Jakarta

Jakarta is a city that puzzles as much as it enchants. Last month I took a short trip there (my third visit). Varied systems have influenced its urbanism and architecture, and have made for a mesmerising tapestry that I hope to be able to decode further on future trips.

Jakarta is possibly the largest city in the world that doesn’t have a train system. Obviously, intensely heavy traffic and pollution result. Neither does Jakarta have much of a sewerage system. Vehicular flow carves through a heterogeneous, sprawling urban mass whose system of property valuation is as yet beyond me.

Travelling through the city reveals the jostling of street stalls and hawkers with behemoth shopping malls, smaller developments of postmodern pastiche, and older modest structures. Within this textured physical fabric hums a local social network that is both visible to and hidden from the foreigner.

The creativity, inventiveness, and resourcefulness of many Jakartans is often evident and is a refreshing sight. The entire scenario makes me wish that more Australian schools had offered classes in Bahasa Indonesia when I was a kid!

If you’re interested in the landscape and ecology of Jakarta in relation to its urban design, keep an eye on the ‘Ciliwung Project’ – a research project being led by Christophe Girot, Chair of Landscape Architecture at ETH Zurich, through the Future Cities Laboratory (Singapore).

As described by Girot online, the project looks at the “design and management of tropical watersheds within dense urban agglomerations by seeking to define a more sustainable restructuring of river profiles in response to prediction models … The objective of this project is to integrate cultural and economic considerations within an adaptive system of large-scale landscape structures in view of creating a resilient environmental corridor system capable also of yielding more protection and fruition for the inhabitants.”

The research intends to bridge scientific research and empirical and heuristic methods of landscape architectural and urban design.

A few photos from my trip:

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