Tropical utopias: The best contemporary Indonesian architecture of 2022
by Jerry ElengicalDec 25, 2022
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by Anmol AhujaPublished on : Jan 18, 2021
Furthering its design language and pedagogy for local architecture and material in Indonesia from its previously successful and acclaimed projects, Guha Bambu and the Alfa Omega School, Realrich Architecture Workshop has attempted to create a sanctuary space using bamboo and local craftsmanship with the Piyandeling project. Located in a remote area of Mekarwangi village in Bandung, the project builds on the “tectonic grammar” that the firm, headed by Realrich Sjarief, and its elaborate work is known for. Piyandeling consists of three structures or components: the first one is a private family home named ‘Sumarah’, the second is an open hall space designed to be operated as an educational and learning platform in the future for kids in Mekarwangi village named ‘Kujang’, while the third structure, ‘Saderhana’, is a design studio and a future dental centre.
The project seeks to merge both traditional and industrial approaches in its usage of local bamboo, mixing traditional and glued joinery methods. Sumarah, the three-storey residential structure within the complex, puts this amalgamation on fine display, owing to a relative sophistication in its usage of bamboo. Designed as an exercise in the bricolage concept, using a composition of only three materials: a local type of sympodial bamboo, recycled plastic, and stone for the foundation, supplied within a five-km radius of the site, Sumarah is an exploration of how bamboo craftsmanship could be integrated with modular rectangular spaces, enclosed within a circular plan embodying the building’s cylindrical shape.
The usage of bamboo here is pushed beyond convention as a material of extraordinary, sustainable strength, to also incorporate its ornamental properties. The tasteful, holistic interiors of the residence, consisting of two kids’ bedrooms, one master bedroom, and shared bathrooms, are done up in intricately carved bamboo compositions covering the ceiling, floor, columns, and doors: even its handles and locks. The integrated space within thus comes together as a conglomeration of art and local craft. The building’s core living spaces, the bedrooms, are planned on a 3m x 3m rectangular grid. The inner bamboo structure thus forms a circumambulatory service corridor that goes around the core, facilitating cross ventilation and additional insulation for the inner structure, while being enveloped by a sheath of recycled plastic, composed of 300mm x 600mm panels.
The second structure in the complex, Kujang, is a two-storey structure nestled amid organic farms, consisting of an open air hall for meetings, gatherings, or for conducting artisan workshops and education activities for the kids of the village in the future. The “floating” structure owes much of its visual and constructional light weighted-ness to its relatively open planning on four-five metre grids of bamboo. Topped with a hyperboloid form roof realised using bent bamboo, with its edges curved outward, widening on both sides of the roof plane, the Julang Ngapak (named so since the roof seems to emulate the wings of the Julang bird), the building completely embodies West Javanese vernacular symbolism. The structure itself derives its name, Kujang, from a traditional weapon in the Sunda tradition. Sitting on an existing stone foundation, Kujang is finally covered with Nipah leaf combined with a waterproofing membrane for the roof, defined by a playful balustrade going around.
Sitting on the perimeter of the complex, the third project is also the simplest of the three in Piyandeling. Saderhana is a single-storey building consisting of a dentist space, a design studio, and an underground prayer room. Constructed on a stone platform with a bamboo roof, Saderhana is an expression of rawness, humility and honesty of expression with economic sensitivity, visible in its form and finishes. Its traditional bamboo construction, ‘Talahap’, is covered in layers of waterproofing membrane and Nipah leaves. In contrast, the underground prayer room is constructed of a bamboo skeleton backed against a concrete retention wall, constructed using craved bamboo formwork, one of the few instances of the usage of concrete in this entirely eco-friendly complex.
The three projects coalesce the firm’s emphasis on the beneficial implementation of contextual architecture, and a shared understanding that “to design and build something out of the land, the project needs to find the roots of local genius”.
Location: Mekarwangi Village, West Java – Bandung, Indonesia
Architects: Realrich Architecture Workshop (RAW)
Completion Year: 2021
Gross Built Area: 400 sq. m.
Design Team: Realrich Sjarief (Lead), Amud, Alifian Kharisma, Vivi Yani Santosa, Regi Kusnadi, Miftahuddin Nurdayat, Jovita Lisyani
Clients: Realrich Sjarief, Laurensia Yudith
Engineering: Sudjatmiko, Eddy Bahtiar
Landscape: Realrich Architecture Workshop (RAW)
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