Teks dan foto oleh Rofianisa Nurdin


“To the young with hearts of passion and the old who are young at heart.” – Kevin Mark Low


Last June I got an opportunity to be a part of #BetterCities’s pilot project, Urban Residency in George Town, Penang, in which 9 young creatives from architecture and design backgrounds collaborate to design a community space. The site lies at a back lane flanked by shop houses and residences in Little India. Within a week, we have to design this almost abandoned pocket space into a place where community can use, gather and interact.

Prior to our workshop, the #BetterCities team had conducted a 4-month research before locating this space as a case study. They made the design guidelines and requirements for us. So our aim was to tackle the Challenge Brief with a design solution that could be possibly built within a week. There was also a budget limitation, of MYR 8000.



Since the first day when I arrived at Sekeping Victoria, the workshop venue, these creative people fascinated me. They all have sharp opinions and a deep understanding on many kinds of issues. Every discussion was intense. Every design decision was under careful consideration. Being among them, I learned new things: how to argue and solve problem in terms of design; how to interact with different layers of communities and authorities; how to implement ideas into technical construction (i.e. making it real); how to know when to brainstorm and when to make decision; and when to stop thinking and just do.



I also heard many interesting stories from the participants: the art scene in Penang, the political situation in Malaysia, the creative people’s desire to be appreciated more, and the so many different approaches to tackle the urban challenges in the cities from what I know back in Indonesia.

Yet, as the neighboring countries we share similar issues. Southeast Asian countries, especially our cities, are vastly growing. Some people are ready to face global challenges; they talk about a better future, a better world. Some are still absorbed in their conservative values and traditional way of living, which are actually great to preserve history and their roots.

Being the generation in between, I think this is the opportunity for young people to address both sides with smart and creative kind of approach. Bridge the gap. Be the solution.




As for me when I was back to my hometown, Jakarta, drowned in the crowded TransJakarta bus, I was thinking that we are on the way towards a better future. Despite of the messy traffic and polluted air, the city has a promising sky and inspiring people. Admit that, our people are the struggling creative ones and tough adapters. Layers of Jakarta societies have their own unique vision to build a better city from many different perspectives. We are now on the hand of great figures (because good seems not enough for the tough city), promisingly created a good governance in the future.

Hopes are everywhere.

George Town is a nice city. Penangite people are nice it reminds me about our people. Yes, we are nice people. Some people being tough in the bus because they have a lot of problems so they forgot being nice. Once the city problem got fixed, as we fixed it together, Jakarta will hopefully be one of the beautiful South-East Asia cities.

 “If you imagine less, less will be what you undoubtedly deserve. Do what you love, and don’t stop until you get what you love. Work as hard as you can, imagine immensities, don’t compromise, and don’t waste time. Start now. Not 20 years from now, not two weeks from now. Now.”

? Debbie Millman’s Advice on Courage and the Creative Life


To the young with hearts of passion and the old who are young at heart, I hope wherever and whoever you are, whatever you wish to be, you will learn something from whatever you are facing right now.

To be a better person. Among a better community. In a better city.


More about #BetterCities on www.betterciti.es or facebook page www.facebook.com/bettrcities

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