by Pawda Tjoa
After months of planning across three different time zones, Cities South of Cancer, in collaboration with Rujak Center for Urban Studies and Universitas Tarumanagara in Jakarta organised an Urban Design Workshop involving students of architecture, academics, practitioners and urban designers from Jakarta and beyond.
During this workshop, we worked with architecture students and practitioners to explore alternative ways and approaches to urban design in the streets of Jakarta stretching from Kota Tua to Kebayoran Baru. Instead of rushing into finding a solution, we challenged designers to rationalise and analyse the urban issues they found, so as to approach urban issues better informed.
This workshop began with a series of talks, followed by a site visit. After an opening speech by Marco Kusumawijaya from RUJAK Center for Urban Studies, the Keynote Lecture was delivered by Dr. Felipe Hernández from Cities South of Cancer, University of Cambridge. With examples from contexts in Latin America and China, Dr Hernandez introduced the concept of articulatory urbanism, and emphasized the importance of contextualizing urban phenomena in the larger global network and system.
Dr Hernández’s talk was then followed by an introductory statement by Pawda Tjoa (Cities South of Cancer, University of Cambridge), to set the theoretical framework for the workshop activities. This kick-started a series of public talks by Reuben Blackie and Iswanto Hartono on issues closer to home—PKL and informal economies in the streets of Jakarta.
Everyday of the workshop began with a studio session, before participants were released to conduct their own fieldwork. Intensive studio days then alternated with fieldwork days. Throughout this workshop, participants are also constantly reminded that regardless of the sites that they have been assigned, be it Kota Tua or Bundaran HI, they must work as part of a larger context, acknowledging these ‘intersections’ are all closely connected even if distinct in character.
On the third day of the workshop, participants presented and exhibited their site analysis to a group of studio mentors and reviewers, including Dian Irawaty (RUJAK) and Imma Anindyta (UNTAR). They then proceeded to work on a proposal for a possible urban intervention based on their site analysis. Before they do so, however, participants were required to return to their respective sites to continue their survey and site studies. This was critical to ensure that the workshop puts equal emphasis on fieldwork and studio sessions.
Presentation of Proposals took place on the final day of the workshop. Reviewers included Dr Felipe Hernández, Suryono Herlambang and Dr Danang Priatmodjo. While much improvement was observed, it was clear from the presentation that there remained the tendency to immediately solve a particular problem that the participants identified during the short period of the workshop. This was a point made explicitly by all reviewers—that there still needed to be a change in attitude and approach in the process of studying an urban site, not with the aim of finding a solution but with the aim of learning more about a particular issue before any proposal was to be made.
The Presentation of Proposals was then followed by the second public lecture by Dr Priatmodjo on the urban space design in Jakarta. This lecture and the intense panel discussion that ensued were an appropriate reminder of the current urban debate, especially as participants continued with their studio project for the rest of the semester. The workshop then concluded with a closing remark by Pawda Tjoa, highlighting what the workshop has achieved in terms of encouraging an alternative approach and attitude to urban studies, as well as increasing awareness amongst practitioners and architecture students and academics on the dynamics within the urban spaces of our city. Pawda also introduced to the audience a blog tab on the dedicated website for the workshop, where participants have recorded and documented their first-hand experiences roaming about in the city. It was not a conclusion that she and the organisers wished to leave the audience, but a vehicle for continuing the dialogue about the ways in which we interact with the urban spaces of our city.
While the workshop itself has now concluded, participants are still applying the lessons they have learned during the workshop in their studio project for the next three months. The final outcome of this workshop along with the final presentation of work will be compiled in the form of a small publication. Workshop participants have diligently continued to record their experience through a dedicated blog here:
Do check it out, we would love to receive your input!