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Jakarta Post
The Jakarta Post
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Residents show housing can be in harmony with nearby river

  • Indra Budiari

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Mon, January 18, 2016 | 03:39 pm

Ina Mariana, 30, could not take her eyes away from the second floor of her nearly finished house as her son ran around the neighborhood.

'€œIt will be finished in a week. I can'€™t wait to leave my rented room and move in,'€ she told The Jakarta Post recently.

Ina and a few other residents on Jl. Tongkol in Ancol, North Jakarta, have finished the construction of five vertical houses, with the hopes of local people and the architect being that they will be viewed as pilot houses for riverbank living.

Located 5 meters from Ciliwung River, each house has three floors, and is built using preserved bamboo for the roof and window frames.

Although each floor'€™s area is small '€” 1.7 by 4.5 meters '€” for Ina, it is more than enough to protect her and her seven family members from the elements.

'€œI am aware that it is very small but, as the old saying goes, there'€™s no place like home. The first floor is for my mother, the second floor is for me, my husband and our two children, while my brother and his wife will take the attic,'€ she said.

Another resident Abdul Rohim said he was glad that his house was among the five remodeled houses, saying that previously he and his wife had lived on a second story with another family living beneath.

He said the remodeling of each of the five family homes had cost less than Rp 30 million (US$2,514).

'€œI couldn'€™t do any renovations in my previous house as it would disturb the family living under me. Now it feels like I have my own privacy,'€ he said, adding that for the present he would use his first floor as a living room, second floor as bedroom and the attic for storage.

However, local resident Gugun Muhammad revealed that despite being upbeat about the redesign of their homes, the residents were aware that they were living on thin ice.

Gugun said the city administration had warned the residents that they could be evicted at anytime as the law prohibited any construction within 15 meters of a waterway.

'€œWe are aware of the risk, but we hope the city administration can make an exception here as this area has potential as a tourism spot,'€ he said. Jl. Tongkol is located less than a kilometer from city heritage site Kota Tua in West Jakarta.

According to Gugun, the 500 families in Jl. Tongkol would be delighted to remodel their houses vertically, to become an example of how to live in riverbank neighborhoods.

'€œWhen I say that the five houses are a pilot project for riverbank housing, I don'€™t mean the construction of the buildings, but the cultural and social aspects. How we adjust our life to geographical conditions,'€ he added.

He went on to say that not only had the residents not disposed of their waste into the Ciliwung River for years, but also organized river cleanup activities to limit the occurrence of floods. He said the septic tanks had also been modified so as not to flow into the river.

Tongkol residents operate and fund four rafts that regularly pick garbage out of the river in front of their houses. Launched in November on Ciliwung Day, 400 residents pitched in money to finance the initiative.

The Ciliwung River, which rises in Bogor in West Java and is one of the largest rivers in Jakarta, frequently bursts its banks in the rainy season, flooding parts of the capital.

One of the architects of the project Andrea Fitrianto said it would only take two or three months for all the residents to remodel their houses to vertical form, emphasizing that by using preserved bamboo instead of wood, the renovation costs could be reduced.

'€œWe also used secondhand materials to build the stairs so we could save some more,'€ he said.