The Jakarta Post
Aside from its historic structures, Indonesia is home to some cutting-edge skyscrapers, innovative campus complexes and exotic vernacular houses.
In cooperation with Germany-based DOM publishers, noted architecture critic and writer Imelda Akmal takes readers on an ultimate journey through Indonesia's 130 must-visit buildings in her latest book, Architectural Guide Indonesia.
The book is part of DOM's Architectural Guide series, which has covered architectural masterpieces in 10 countries.
In Architectural Guide Indonesia, Imelda compiles commercial buildings, offices, museums, galleries and hotels built within the country's independence era.
'At first, I wanted to cover only buildings constructed in the last five years in order to show Indonesia's contemporary architecture,' said Imelda, who completed her postgraduate studies in architectural theory and criticism at the AA School of Architecture, London.
'My team only collected 60 buildings. Thus, I expanded the parameters to buildings dating from 1945. This enables us to talk about [former president] Sukarno, our independence history, architectural heritage and also buildings designed by international architects.'
Most of the featured buildings are public places, while the remaining are private properties that are available for public visits. While at a glance Architectural Guide Indonesia appears to be a reference for architects, architecture enthusiasts and tourists, the book can be an intriguing read for anyone.
While many Indonesians have visited the Gelora Bung Karno main stadium (designed by legendary architect F. Silaban) and Hotel Indonesia (by Abel Sorensen), perhaps only a few have discovered the unique beauty of the Multimedia Nusantara University tower on the outskirts of Jakarta.
Located in Alam Sutera Tangerang, the campus consists of two huge silver oval buildings designed by the Duta Cermat Mandiri architectural firm. The architect implemented a sustainable design by applying perforated aluminum plates as the building skin, which facilitate air flow and sunlight penetration.
A serene design is reflected in Patekoan Tiang Hoa Hwe Koan School in Serpong, Tangerang. The first Chinese school in Jakarta operated from 1905 until being closed by the government at the dawn of the New Order Era.
In 2008, the school was reestablished in Summarecon Serpong using a design from Adi Purnomo. It is a white building with a simplistic design. To the roof of the entrance area, Adi applied skylight openings at random. He also created a garden on the building's concreted deck roof to reduce the temperature of the rooms below.
Indonesia's contemporary architecture is notably seen in commercial buildings and restaurants. Among them is Potato Head beach club restaurant in Seminyak Bali by andramatin. The beach club attracts attention from afar with its circular wall structure made of six thousand mismatched teak window shutters.
While the book features lavish hotels such as Padma Hotel in Bandung (by Australian architect Kerry Hill) and beach-facing Alila Villas Uluwatu in Bali (by WOHA), it also sheds light on the distinctive rustic design of the humble Guest House Banyuwangi in East Java.
Situated beside the official residence of the Banyuwangi regent, the guest house was built under a gently sloping area covered in grass. Architect Adi Purnomo designed several stone chimneys topped with glass on the green grass that serve as skylights and provide ventilation.
Interestingly, a significant number of places of worship made it onto the list. They include the Stella Maris Catholic Church by Duta Cermat Mandiri in North Jakarta, which combined the use of stone plates and teak wood on the building that resembles an upturn arc.
At the Church of St. John the Evangelist, better known Gedung Yohanes, in Kebayoran, Jakarta, notable architect Han Awal applied red bricks to the church's saw tooth faÃ§ade.
Others include the Salman Mosque ITB in Bandung by Achmad Noe'man and Al Irsyad Mosque in Bandung by Urbane Indonesia, which consists of concrete block modules arranged in such a way to form calligraphy on the walls.
The last chapter of the book embraces vernacular architecture in East Nusa Tenggara and Sumatra.
'We featured vernacular houses that are built under the Rumah Asuh Foundation program, where professional architects guide communities to construct the houses,' Imelda said.
One of them is the reconstruction project of the houses of Wainyapu people in Southeast Sumba, East Nusa Tenggara. The Rumah Asuh Foundation assisted the community to build wooden houses with thatched roofs after they lost their old homes in a series of natural disasters.
Architectural Guide Indonesia makes it easier for readers to visit the buildings by providing QR codes. By scanning the code of a selected building, readers are directed to the building's coordinates on Google Maps.
Architectural Guide Indonesia
By Imelda Akmal
Published by DOM publishers
and IMAJI Publishing, 2016