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Q’s n o t ye t A’s Portfolio & Writing Samples farid rakun 2010




Introduction written essay

My understanding and objective towards my dreams of building my own contemporary architectural practice can be summed up in two words: adaptation, and one of its derivatives, adaptability. Architecture, I first learned as my subjective adaptation tool towards the context I was born in, and then as one of the adaptation strategies humans employed in order to survive in their given environment. Being born a middle class Indonesian in the early 1980s automatically entitled one’s life to take a professional path. The country’s educational system (inherited from the Dutch, then briefly followed by the Japanese colonial era) was perfectly specified to fabricate technicians for state-supporting purposes. The reigning regime at that time, the authoritarian New Order, further honed the system to produce technicians whose skills were useful to perpetuating itself. Those perceived as possessing the potential to challenge the status quo were condemned, if not banished altogether. Consequently, to be a creative individual, be it a fine artist, musician, political activist, etc, was not generally considered a wise career choice. The changes brought by the Reformation movement, marked by the fall of the regime in 1998, had not been fully realized by the time I had to determine my future in 2000. Marrying the desire to be a creative person with the need to survive as a professional, I decided to become an architect. I have never regretted this decision. My second vision on architecture as an adaption tools came from University of Indonesia, whose Architecture Department was undergoing seismic philosophical changes at the time I enrolled. The department was no longer to be regarded as a mere supplier of draftspeople to the construction industry. The field was no longer locked in the narrow understanding of ‘making buildings.’ Architecture could now be considered a creative field, to be approached and pursued as knowledge. Further, it’s understood as a socially collective pursuit, whose responsibility must be shown to society at large. During my professional career, shown most obviously at the time I joined Selin Maner Architects in 2007, a multinational architectural

firm led by Selin Maner, a Cornell and Columbia graduate architect, I experienced first-hand the potential of architecture to initiate positive change in societies, by fostering the adaptability of human beings towards their contexts, no matter how unfortunate their circumstances are. I relocated to Phnom Penh, when I became the design architect of Selin Maner Architects, Cambodia (SMAC). SMAC worked primarily with Wildlife Alliance, an NGO, to design building and area planning proposals for their eco-development projects. Our key projects in Cambodia were mainly in the Southern Cardamom Mountains region. Residents of this impoverished area relied on illegal logging, the poaching and smuggling of endangered species to survive. The projects I worked on aimed to reverse negative human impact on wildlife and the environment, by providing sustainable alternative livelihoods for locals in the form of eco-tourism. Realized projects included a community-based eco-tourism office constructed entirely of bamboo, an up-market green-certified ecolodge, and a visitors’ center. Adaptability, on the other hand, had been understood by me through a path less conventional. My first awareness of the desired spatial adaptability came during an elective Experimental Design Studio. Its objective was experimental at its core: introducing students to experimental thinking in the discipline, taking them to “where the wild things were”. I was particularly interested in the unstable ground brought on by post-structuralism and post-modernism during this period, relating the more rapid development undergone in art to the architectural design process. Moving forward from the perception of architectural works as solutions, I became inspired by architectural design, which could pose questions, serving as a critique of its context. I proposed a system of transformable fence/gate/door/opening-cum-elevated walkways, applicable to my parents’ street. It was temporal, flexible, user-dependent, and had no fixed meaning. The Experimental Design Studio was a starting point. In my graduation projects I followed my fascination with the underlining aspect of the major role taken by users of architecture, shown through its user-adaptability. I formulated an argument supporting the importance of the user in my 2005 graduation writing project, entitled “Arsitektur dan Pengguna” (User and Architecture), borrowing grounds by such luminaries as Roland Barthes, Guy Debord, and Henri Lefebvre; as well as contemporary thinkers like Jeremy Till, Jonathan Hill, and Sarah Wigglesworth. It also functioned as a form of protest against the state of architecture at that time, when the culture of ‘starchitects’ was beginning to bloom. On the other hand, I proposed a new home for Jakarta-based ruangrupa, an internationally known contemporary artists’ initiative and alternative space founded in 2000, as my final project. Proposing an architecture that could be adapted to fit various uses (such as discussions, exhibitions, film screenings, artist residencies, and even an indooroutdoor soccer field), the proposed final form took the form of a green blanket with poles placed at regular intervals. In my design I strove to minimize built space. My main goal was to push back the boundaries of adaptability, in order to create a work that could serve as a model

strategy for achieving efficiency. I continue this quest professionally when at the end of 2005 a Bali-based multinational prefab construction company called TomaHouse hired me. I joined the company as an assistant on projects designed mainly for the eco-hospitality industry, in places like Fiji and the Maldives. In 2006, I was promoted to Project Architect and Manager when a US start-up company called Jeriko House approached our company to develop prefab housing systems for the US market. Jeriko House had independently joined the global humanitarian effort to rebuild postKatrina New Orleans. I was responsible for the complete redesign of TomaHouse’s existing extruded-aluminum modular structural system and panels. The directive was to achieve a more modern sleek look, departing from the previous ethnic and exotic one, while meeting US design standards. I repurposed the new system to incorporate a ‘spine’ where utilities and other supporting devices could be run. This simple addition not only streamlined set-up and assembly; it also created a clear logic to the customizable portions of the prefab structures, making the whole system more adaptable to customers’ specific needs. The first building utilizing the new system was constructed in New Orleans in 2007. TomaHouse continues to sell the new building system, currently tagged as the BauHaus Asia series. My other creative endeavors in artistic practice as well as non-fictional writing bore their fruits in 2010 when I decided to return to my hometown, Jakarta. After deciding to take a year off from the construction industry, as well as other visual artistic endeavors, and resigning from SMAC at the end of 2009, I was offered an editorial position at Karbon, an online journal covering Indonesian public space, cities, visual art and culture, run by ruangrupa. It was through my close contact with contemporary art practice as production of knowledge of ruangrupa, I became able to see the translation of the idea of adaptability put into practice. Contemporary multimedia and new media art, no longer confined in the rigid space of conventional gallery, has been immersed in applying interactivity, non-linear narrative techniques, and participatory approach towards their audience in the way of technological development. Their ideas, application techniques, and overall approach to objective reality as something to be continuously brought into question, has served as unending analogy and inspiration for the forming of my architectural practice objectives. I also accepted a teaching assistant position at my alma mater for design studios and theoretical classes. But my most precious teaching experience came from the honor of invitation to form and teach the Contemporary Design Studio, an elective studio in Tarumanegara University, which used the term “Gerilya Urban” (Urban Guerrilla) as its first sub-theme. Adaptability resurfaced for me in this studio in its most glorious form. The class focused on inventions, acts, initiatives, and events in Jakarta public space, towards which the students were asked to conceive specific reactions. Design users in a metropolitan setting such as Jakarta not only offer inspirations, but are also ready to be treated as active players in any creative pursuit. Their natural-born adaptability and resilience has been a valuable reminder for me to keep advancing my intense interest in the adaptability of architecture. The studio results

have been published into a book that received notable critical acceptance. This specific understanding of architecture as an adaptation apparatus of living beings, as well as the adaptability of a certain structure situated on unstable spatial contexts—a consequence brought by the state of influx in contemporary culture, serve as vital aspects to the form of what I believe to be an ideal form of architectural practice. It is in my understanding that technology should serve as the vital way in achieving this state of practice. Technology, in its basic epistemological sense, is making science applicable in a pragmatic practical way to the masses. So, in the context of developing countries such as Indonesia, the urgency is not only dealing with the technical advancement of hardware and software, fabrication and manufacturing process—although always being the big three countries competing for the most numbers of usage of any popular social networks (in consistent battle for the top position with USA) these aspects of technology are obviously holding the utmost national importance. It also means dealing with the everyday, lo-fi, banal techniques used by the majority of the urban population. How should the discipline of architecture apprehend street hawkers, motortaxis, traveling mobile mini-playgrounds (nicknamed odong-odong in Indonesia), or urban slums (known in South American countries as favelas), to name a few of these urban actors and built environments? Shouldn’t we pay more attention to the frequently overlooked ingenious technology they effortlessly employ? Should they be understood as technology at all? It consequently leads to bigger questions: could we transform the cultural life in countries such as Indonesia, currently a fertile ground for consumption, into one of production? Specifically, could we treat the technological devices available to us as platforms for development, not as mere commodities to be sold?

J a k a r ta

AhmettSalina &




Oximoronic Geniuses






Previous page: Construction phase

This & following page: Exterior renderings & initial sketch

Photos by Jeriko House

Renderings by ImageRender

BauHaus Asia Series Jeriko House New Orleans, USA 2006-2007 Built Office: Tomahouse Client: Jeriko House Role: Project Architect/Project manager Team member: Yunitri Windari, Darmaganda Client architect: Selin Maner 3D companies: Imagerender & Creation

How could we address disaster relief in a contemporary global ways by putting technology not only as means to an end? Further, how to achieve the economy sustainability of such efforts? How to put control into the users’ hand, since after all there is only so many architects on the face of this earth, not to mention the very few good ones? How to operate customization rapidly and rationally? How to make it marketly feasible? By modularization? By program rationalization through human and utilities’ circulation? By making a building system’s logic blatant for commoners’ eyes?

Previous page: Jeriko House During construction Photo by Jeriko House

This page (above): Ground floor plan Following page (above): First floor plan This spread (below): Longitudinal section

This page (above): First floor plan (below): Longitudinal section

This page (above): Spine configuration samples (middle): Unit sizes

This & following page (below): Spine configuration samples with rooms attached

This page (above): Example showing how a house can ‘grow’

This & following page (above): Perspective renderings of the units’ structure (below): Exploded axonometrics of the units’ structure

This page: Utilities plan

This page (above): Structural axonometry (below): Hurricane panel details Following spread: Exterior rendering on an imaginary site Renderings by ImageRender

This & following page: Exterior renderings

BauHaus Asia Series Subiaco House Subiaco, Australia

How to address the challenge posed by a triangular-shaped lot, using rectangular modular system?


By bifurcation?

Proposal Office: Tomahouse Client: Barnaby Chiverton Role: Project manager Project architect: Selin Maner Team member: Yunitri Windari

What program would the center meeting point house under the condition? What kind of living condition rendered possible?

This & following page (above): Exterior renderings This page (below): Ground floor plan Following page (below): First floor plan Following spread: Interior and exterior renderings

This & following page: Exterior renderings

BauHaus Asia Series Reyco House

Could a system devised for the US northern hemisphere be applied accordingly into the tropical European island context?


How would the structural system interact with its soft furnishings further? Would it create a problematic or an attractive dialect?

Tenerife, Spain Proposal

Office: Tomahouse Client: Reyco Role: Assistant architect Project architect: Titik Puji Lestari Team member: Benny

This page (above): Ground floor plan (below): First floor plan Following page (below): Interior rendering

This & following page: Exterior renderings & initial sketch

ruangrupa Jakarta, Indonesia 2004 Schoolwork Client: ruangrupa Modeller: Noerhadi

What should a container to house the activities an organic artists’ collective and organization that holds a strong belief on informalities, look like? Could it be something that grows and contracts together with the institution it contains? How could it reflect on how the collective connect to the outside world, the region it’s located at? Could it offer the context any additional quality? A public park maybe, or a parking area? Or both—a parking area that could turn into a football field, as well as a plane that could house discussions and contemporary exhibitions? Could an architecture, after all, render itself as constructed urban discourse?

This page: Maquette Following page (left): Bird eye views showing panel configuration possibilities Following page (right): Exploded axonometry

This page: Sun and shade studies Following page (above): Section (middle & below): Elevations

Found Object, Sampling:

Re-appropriating Process towards Open Source Architecture 2008 Essay Publisher: Vol. 2 #2 Originally written in English Full illustrated version can be found at:

Sampling: the act of taking a portion, or sample, of one sound recording and reusing it as an instrument or element of a new recording. This is typically done with a sampler, which can be a piece of hardware or a computer program on a digital computer. Found object: the use of an object which has not been designed for an artistic purpose, but which exists for another purpose already. Found objects may exist either as utilitarian, manufactured items, or things (including, at times, dead bodies) which occur in nature. In both cases the objects are discovered by the artist or musician to be capable of being employed in an artistic way, and are designated as “found” to distinguish them from purposely created items used in the art forms. Appropriation: the use of borrowed elements in the creation of new work. The borrowed elements may include images, forms or styles from art history or from popular culture, or materials and techniques from non-art contexts… The new work does not actually alter the original per se; the new work uses the original to create a new work. In most cases the original remains accessible as the original, without change. Openness: a philosophy that is being used as the basis of how various groups and organizations operate. It is a relatively new term to describe this general way of doing things… It is typified by communal management, and open access to the information or material resources needed for projects; openness to contributions from a diverse range of users/producers/contributors, flat hierarchies, and a fluid organisational structure. Open source: a set of principles and practices on how to write software, the most important of which is that the source code is openly available… one should not only get the source code but also have the right to use it. Open system: a state of a system, in which a system continuously interacts with its environment. Open systems are those that maintain their state and exhibit the characteristics of openness previously mentioned. [1]

Architecture, after the World War II, has failed to deliver its many promises. One of the main causes is its preference to harmonise its relationship with the industry over relating more with the progressive community as its people, its user, and its audience. As a consequence, whenever the word architecture is mentioned in this essay, it refers to architecture as an industry instead of a discipline. As an industry, it’s only intuitive for architecture to follow the current global industrial trend: homogenising, campaigning consumerism as its core reasoning, and supporting the global development to make this world a visually saturated and intellectually dulled place to be. Furthermore, concentrating at the aforementioned condition, this essay focuses mainly on finding a strategy to subvert this very architectural condition, to discover the undelivered promises, but in the way also finding better way, more democratised way to do architecture.Architecture, I first learned as my subjective adaptation tool towards the context I was born in, and then as one of the adaptation strategies humans employed in order to survive in their given environment. Being born a middle class Indonesian in the early 1980s automatically entitled one’s life to take a professional path. The country’s educational system (inherited from the Dutch, then briefly followed by the Japanese colonial era), was perfectly specified to fabricate technicians for state-supporting purposes. The reigning regime at that time, the authoritarian New Order, further honed the system to produce technicians whose skills were useful to perpetuating itself. The similar critical view has been adopted in many fields, such as music, visual art in its many forms, graphic and industrial design, and computer graphics, to name a few. The result and embodiment of this view has varied in the respective fields, but it is fair to say that it has been responsible for bold actions that revolutionise the whole industry. This essay will discuss some examples, whether closely related to architectural discourse or not, found on the World Wide Web, to be used to push a more critical view towards architecture, a process not unlike found objects in art where a subjective appropriation holds the key to the whole understanding. The examples provided here are not randomly taken [although quite randomly discovered]. Some thinking concepts are being used as parameters in choosing them. The concepts mentioned in the beginning of this essay will be used both as logics and analogies. Intellectually speaking, it is important to mention early that this essay would concentrate not towards a reduced form of architecture as a diagram that trying to reach an ideal state where infinity of variations could be reached [take Deleuze’s folded space for example], but instead towards the Bernard Cache’s definition of architecture as an embodiment of the technological object, where industrial automation or serial machineries replaced stamped forms [2]. Both understanding considers architectural process as a non-conclusive continuous process, but when the former put its interest in spatial mould as a frame, a skin as a result; the later was more into a temporal modulation in which matter was seen as a consequence of formal process. It’s fair to conclude that the first is about abstraction of enclosure, where the second is about the process of discovering consequences of an idea. Materiality holds more vitality in the later, therefore forming a reason for the aforementioned preference.

Pallalink: found object + sampling Palla, the nickname of Kazuhiko Kawahara, trained and worked as an architect for ten years before he decided to become an artist photographing architecture and built environments surrounding him. Not being easily satisfied, he manipulates the photographs so that something hidden is revealed, as if it has been waiting there from to be discovered from the beginning. Palla started his weblog in 2002 where he posts his pictures, layers and shifts them under the influence of his online audience’s comments, opening himself and his works to the possibilities the WWW holds. He based the transformation of his works on people comments and their thoughts, while he acts as the actor of his audience direction, recreating and transforming those pictures. By doing that, he aims to break the paradigm of artist as a predomination of an artwork finished result, ‘The concept of my present work is ‘found’. I don’t know what the purpose of this work is, but by continuing the process I know that I will always “find” something amazing.’ Further, he’d like to think about it as if, ‘ – said domain on the internet – an ‘artist’ itself’ [3]. Technically, he uses several underlying concepts, each with its own agenda: Symmetry: This act of the disassembling occurs through the manipulation which forces to cohere each different space in itself. It is the correction for a preestablished harmony of the homogenization. It seems that the corrected spaces can uninterruptedly be connected seamlessly. It is no longer possible that you bring up in your consciousness about how strange the place is, because you are already woven as a particle of the place. Reflection: Images, which are generated by those manipulations, contain a metaphor that is hidden description for various events; the spectrum of the lost boundary area. Shearing: Once rivalry balanced forces slide the phase to another, they are beginning to lose its balance. The space where lost the balance, is gradually twisted, and draws a spiral and converges on center of gravity or diffuses outside. The perspective, which is identified as the entire basis, at last has brought cracks by those motions, and broken up. Minuscule amounts of differences can cause the world breakup where is dominated by perspective. Therefore it is the proof that all things are incomplete. Circulation: Twisting does not bring a distortion of the space, but brings a stability of the circulation of the unexpected connection. The space, which draws the line of a Mobius strip, makes possible to come and go between the surface and the other side of the space as long as that orbital motion continues. When you discover the world as spaces circulated between the surface and the other side, a new perspective is found by the interpretation of the space as topology that is free from the grid system. Difference: Exploration of conjunction points in your subconscious. The conjunction could courses an ambivalent feeling of your nurtured sense. This simulated perspective occasionally provides an intensive and incompatible feeling to you. That is reason why you can

discover nothing but a thing to be called the architecture in there, when you once become aware of the generated space as the environment as the result of these manipulation. [4] What he does is very architectural in its core, creating intervention in a given banal space, so a different and, sometimes, transcendental dimension comes out from it. He tries to understand a ‘genius loci’, and in his intervening process asks its user, its audience, for their input. Even if anyone chooses to categorise what he does to a different realm than the conventional built architecture, it still functions well analogy. Isn’t the way he does things a very interesting concept to be applied into conventional everyday practice of architecture? “By making it symmetrical I confront the natural with the mechanical, the artificial. Architecture in itself is made entirely by people to be used and controlled by people. It is artificial. However, when people come and gather, it becomes like a city, a living organism and the situation transforms into something more natural. My works contain both those artificial and natural components. I’m attracted by the dynamism of the change from a simple form to a complicated organism.” Kazuhiko Kawahara, in an interview with Uleshka [5] Lot-Ek’s Bohen Foundation & Morton Loft project: found object + appropriation Lot-Ek, an architectural design firm based in New York, is well known for their works which reuse industrial mass objects for their spatial properties. It is clear that the concept of appropriation has been mined relentlessly, if not tirelessly, as a defining element from the beginning of every project’s development. They have created a strong cored proposal based on the concept for programs such as mass housing schemes, temporary urban pavilions, even high-rises. For Bohen Foundation [NY, 2002], they created a setting in which eight shipping containers, containing all the permanent activities and at the same time functioning as a movable enclosure. It was created to house a program in which maximum spatial flexibility was needed, a consequence of the multi-scaled media exhibition the foundation was intended to support [6]. In the Morton Loft refurbishment project [NY, 2000] they appropriated a trailer tank to encapsulate private areas within the apartment. It was cut in two sections and was put in a certain way so that they define the remaining space as effectively as they house the programs within: two sleeping pods for the horizontal section and two bathrooms stacked on top of each other for the vertical one. The intervention act was not only leaving the surrounding space of the left undisturbed, but also clearly defining the circulation area [7]. As we have seen from these two projects, an appropriation of a found object is not a new concept to be applied spatially, therefore architecturally. The remaining question is the possibility the similar concept holds when it is being applied on different settings and different context; would it be embodied the same way as Lot-Ek had done if the project was in Beijing? Would the project be done in similar logic if it is being done in pre-industrial machinic era? In answering that question maybe an analogy should be made, isn’t ‘Hurt’ still a non-arguably great

song, either in the form of Johnny Cash’s cover, or in its original Nine Inch Nails version. Or maybe it is a question of the singers, not the song? Haque, Adam Somlai-Fischer/Aether Architecture, and the Reorient Team’s Reconfigurable House project : open source + open system Architecture as software, the phrase stand so well with this project [Tokyo and Belgium, 2008]: an embodiment of open source architectural system in the form of an environment constructed from thousands of low tech components that can be ‘reconfigured’ by its occupants [8]. It asks the important question whether the term ‘interactive’ applied popularly these days stays true to its meaning, or is it actually ‘reactive’? [9] The project also challenged the computing ‘smart homes’, which can be seen as invisible technology application to prevent DIY to a certain extent. Unlike those homes, which homogenised users in their deterministic view over language, dialogue and interaction, Reconfigurable House fostered and highlighted the importance of different behaviours as a result of different logics each human being has. Its sensors and actuators can be reconnected endlessly so the environment, the structure, evolves as the people, the culture, changed their preference and behaviour. The project blatantly expressed the creators’ preference towards user [they prefer to call him/her ‘participant’] as the determining factor of an environment over designers of the system. Further, analogously speaking, it could be seen as an example of architecture as operating system. In the word of Usman Haque, a spatial researcher and artist who is co-responsible for the project, “One model of operating system that is particularly relevant to architecture (since the design of space is always a collaborative process) is an open source system” [10]. He got into the statement by seeing architecture as a combination of hardware [solid and static elements such as walls, floors, and roofs] and software [ephemeral elements, such as sounds and smells], in order to structuralise his argument against traditional practice of architecture which much too often concerns itself only with its hardware elements. It is very important to highlight the reasoning behind such view, as an embodiment of some kind of faith towards democracy in spatial design realm: “… applying open source to architecture suggests a collaborative democratic project that exists in time as well as space: an architecture that is created by people through its use, as a performance, a conversation, a bodystorm that goes on throughout the life of the architectural system, whether it is a building or other architectural situation” [11]. This house also demonstrated how open source architectural system is possible to be reached in a software term as well as a hardware term. Elements like the Cat Brick Wall, Mist Laser garden, Monkey Corridor and Radio Penguin Ceiling, which actually low tech toys and gadgets, showed that the structure can be inexpensively recreated by even those who are not experts neither in electronics, nor buildings. For those who are interested to apply open system in their architectural thinking development, there are a few more things that can be learned from the artists. The first is several key features to open source architecture [12]:

Designer participants. A control system that one allows oneself to be part of in order to expand that structure. Choreographies of openness. Re-appropriation. Capacity for sharing design problems. The second is the two distinct steps open source architecture requires: the infrastructure development that enable ‘non-professional’ designers to participate more closely in design and construction process, and the knowledge application of space design to the formulation of a framework within which other people can consciously design spaces. Forays’ Cocoon project: open source + found object Forays are Adam Bobette and Geraldine Juarez. Their projects are well known for their courageous quality in experimentation, subversiveness and critical point of view. Essential in forming the purpose of their artistic works are vital questions about cultural hegemony such as public space, exchange and consumption modes [13]. In a project supported by Eyebeam Foundation in New York, they developed the cocoon, a critical structure towards mystified architecture, towards the notion of economy which based itself on never ending consumption cycle, towards uber privatisation of urban spaces and monopolised resources. It started as a portable shelter initially built to study tree canopies and how the geometry of leaves interacts with light. It was built using free postal envelopes, discarded plastic beach blankets and construction netting. They found that it was an ideal resting place: lightweight, portable and easy to build, as it can be set most anywhere one can wrap around: an open source structure system. In its development, the cocoon has been mounted in New York, and Montreal, for introducing the concept of squatting to general masses in a time of excessively inflated rental prices, as well as tree sits to protect community gardens on the brink of destruction by the city officials. As a tactical occupation of space, this simple design, not unlike a hammock, introduces to us a notion of the kind of open source architecture in the most extremely literal sense: a dwelling space which is easy to assemble, cheap, accessible, portable, comfortable, compelled by the ethics of open source, hacking, larceny, alternative forms of exchange and consciously low-tech in order to be popular and widespread as much as possible. The structure produced, seen as the embodiment of the subversive idea, is not the goal in itself. It recognises the poetry and elegance of the architectonic knots, folds, and weight this free and cheap material potentially holds, but the vitality of this project is actually in the networks of exchange one encounters in the process: the human exchange which may have been otherwise foreclosed by dominant modes of exchange and consumption. “The cocoon is an experiment in open source architecture… an attempt at a demystified architecture… an accessible architecture… an architecture that could push our notions of inhabitation by taking us to sleep in scaffolds, in parks owned by the city, under bridges, in the metal

and concrete canopies of the city. The cocoon is meant to save essential spaces from destruction by squatting… the cocoon is meant to be given away… the cocoon is not really even an object so much as a composition of relations and potentials…” [14] Forays suggest you to make your own cocoons to meet your own environmental background, purpose and settings. It could be made with anything you found laying around in your respective area. This found object conceptually limitless, but Forays provide us with some guidelines mentioned before. Essentially, a cocoon should work well enough to be taken up in different situations and engender more articulations. Forays asked you to participate, engage in the discussion and collectively take part in hacking of resources and physical urban infrastructure, in order to add a little more to the grass roots architecture movement. One small step at a time. This is a very strong conceptual project, using underlying simple concepts such as found object and open source system. The simplicity do nothing except strengthen the impact of this project, reminding us how spatial possibilities have not been undermined and understood fully by architecture, as an ideal, cultural, and political embodiment of human beings. In general, the real questions and problems our community faces nowadays, have not been raised, let alone answered by architects. Architecture has failed to be critical towards human relation, exchange and interaction. The fundamental capitalistic form is still being held as the most popular parameters in the practice of the discipline. Maybe it is time to tell ourselves that whenever we still value an architectural project mainly by its physical scale, tangible built details and the worst of them all, how much it is worth, we still hold undeniable proof that we are still, indeed, a part of the predictable status quo, without any real voice having the ability to surprise the world: simply unworthy for anyone to hear. The cocoon is an object in a transitional state. It is a space of incubation and an open unfolding. We know there will be a butterfly, but when? What will it look like? We have recourse to continuities, to habits and repetitions, we know generalities about butterflies, but we also, equally, don’t know what its life course will be, what singularities will interrupt its generalities. [15] As all the examples shown above exhibit, by using ages-old artistic concepts such as sampling, found object, and appropriation, open system architecture in a form of open source structure is not an unforeseeable dream anymore. A state of architecture where space, object, and user interact, relate, and communicate by exchanging information can be seen as an ideal bottom up state. It is an answer for the discipline’s need, after its being ruled by linear deterministic fundamentally humanist top down progress for nearly four centuries, since industrial revolution took place in the 18th century. The open source architectural system idea brought forward here is not relatively new, in fact projects using very similar theme are being run around the world [16]. Learning from Open Source Architecture for Africa, which ventures the open system idea by taking the same path as Wikipedia, using software development in order to let its potential users’ exchange knowhows, there are additional key lessons learned regarding the success of open source software development worth mentioning here [17]:

Re f e re nc es [1] All from Wikipedia, 5 April 2008. [2] I owe the understanding stated on the paragraph to Sophia Vyzofiti’s essay Folding Architecture, Concise Genealogy of the Practice, in Vyzofiti (2007). Folding Architecture: spatial, structural, and organizational diagrams. Singapore: Page One, pp. 130-43. [3] Uleshka’s interview with Palla in Pallalink – twisted symmetry photographs, Ping Mag Online Magazine, 21 December 2006, http:// pallalink-twisted-symmetriephotographs-2/ [4] Pallalink. http://pallalink. net/gallery/ [5] Pallalink – twisted symmetry photographs, pallalink-twisted-symmetriephotographs-2/ [6] All information contained about this project were retrieved from http://www. [7] All information contained about this project were retrieved from http://www. [8] Otherwise noted, all information contained about this project were retrieved from reconfigurablehouse.php and http://house.propositions. [9] Usman Haque (2006). Architecture, interaction, systems. AU: Arquitetura & Urbanismo, 149 August 2006, papers/ArchInterSys.pdf [10] Usman Haque (2004). The choreography of sensations: Three case studies of responsive environment interfaces. VSMM 2004 Conference Proceedings, Hybrid Realities & Digital Partners, http://www.haque. [11] Usman Haque (2002). Hardspace, softspace and the possibilities of open source architecture, http://www. [12] Usman Haque (2002). Hardspace, softspace and the possibilities of open source

version control is necessary level

form collaborative virtual teams with a variety of skills and skill

gatekeeper plays a vital role in quality management [a role definitely for architects in open source architecture] peer review is a powerful means of quality assurance user feedback is essential development is a cyclical process As a conclusion, I would like to point out the importance of further architectural studies towards the process of sampling, appropriation, and open source system, as well as their relationship with architecture. Another substantial matter is pursuing the possibilities to adapt them to the discipline’s practical realm. The purpose of this act is not to produce students, scholars, and/or practitioners that endlessly make mediocre copies of the geniuses’ pieces. Quite the contrary; it aims for a certain state of consciousness about originality, and asking the right questions towards the present condition of the practice. Another important thing that we can learn here is that intentional imitation, introduced by concepts such as found object, always functions better than concealed plagiarism. Lastly, I’d like to point on some facts that could function as an ending: photography survives the invention of digital compact cameras and Film survives the invention of DV8 and Real social relation and web design doesn’t suffer from the invention of, www.myspace. com,, etc., where one not only could foster his/her relationships without any location constraint, but also recreates one’s self-imagery by customising his/her own web interface design. Instead of suffering a slow and painful death, the very industries backing up those fields flourished with new possibilities, and are busy exploring new boundaries. Architecture, its very difference with the mentioned fields above is its unself-containedness, faces the question whether or not the same case could be happening? Architecture is neither the act of building, nor the act of drawing. It’s the discipline that concerns itself with anything that has to do with the built environment, as a cultural act. Architects should not put their concentration only in perfecting their techniques of drawing and building, but also continuously train themselves to think in order to address issues and problems this world imposed upon them. By doing so a deeper and better understanding on how to further act and actually stage a natural human intervention in its very essence would hopefully be more achievable. Maybe that way we could find a way to survive this inevitable industrial revolution, and put our energy on more constructive things, instead of constantly worrying about what the future holds for the survival of our profession and discipline. “Most advanced spatial interaction research is these days produced by non-architects… These developments throw into question the very role of designers, because such user- and environmentally-responsive mechanisms allow people themselves to take prime position in configuring

architecture, http://www. [13] All information contained about this project were retrieved from http://forays. org/?cat=3 [14] Forays (2007). Forays into cocoons: Field notes, uploads/2007/10/fieldnotes1. pdf [15] Forays (2007). Forays into cocoons: Field notes, uploads/2007/10/fieldnotes1. pdf [16] See Open Source Architecture For Africa [OSAFA], currently under its ‘seeding phase’ – the first six months in which the initiators of the project have to contribute content all on their own, all the while contacting stakeholders to convince them about the concept, and documenting their projects - as one of the best example for the case in my opinion. [17] Derek Keats (2003). Collaborative development of open content: A process model to unlock the potential for African universities. First Monday, 8 (2), http:// issue8_2/keats/index.html, via Helge Fahrnberger, Open source architecture for Africa - A bottom-up approach to innovation building in the context of construction in rural Africa, http://www.osafa. org/english/images/8/85/ Osafa-IST.pdf [18] Usman Haque (2004). The choreography of sensations: Three case studies of responsive environment interfaces. VSMM 2004 Conference Proceedings, Hybrid Realities & Digital Partners, http://www.haque.

(that is, designing) their own spaces. … In enhanced environment design, where traditional architecture and virtual systems unite, users can be the designers of their own spaces — … these “open source” spaces. … However, while virtual system design has often tended to emphasize efficiency, convenience, punctuality and predictability, architecture, on the other hand, can give clues about ways to develop spatial poetries. … Virtual environment design, through the focus of an architecture-as-software approach, encourages us instead to find our own logics and leads us away from designing for verisimilitude and towards designing for abstraction. … As people become architects of their own spaces (through use of such spaces) the word “architecture” ceases to be a noun: instead it becomes a verb. Such an architecture is explicitly dynamic, a shift that opens up a wealth of poetic possibilities for designers of space.” [18]

Previous page: Construction phase

This page: Exterior photo Following page: Roof construction studies Following spreads: Exterior and detail photos

Wedding Chapel Maldives 2006-2007 Built Office: Tomahouse Client: Banyan Tree Hotels Role: Assistant architect Project architect: Titik Puji Lestari Team member: Sarem Pulukadang, Darmaganda, Moh. Fikry, Benny

What kind of form would result if we are to bring rational contemporary modern building method into a secluded island of Maldives? Could it be combined with a vernacular building methods? Could they inform and influence one another? Would it result in something that is beautiful to look at?

This & following pages: Interior, exterior, construction, detail, and furniture photos

Orchid Inn Fiji 2005-2006 Built Office: Tomahouse Client: Peter Bourke Role: Assistant architect & product designer Project architect: Moh.Fikry Team member: Sarem Pulukadang, Titik Puji Lestari, Effan Adhiwira, Benny

What change could a prefrabricated manufacturing techniques of building bring to the hospitality industry in general? Would it change not only in the way how its buildings look, but also in how the industry treat their constructed resources? Could design act as more than mere decoration, but give more influence into how a certain industry operates?

This page: Instruction for usage (in Indonesian) Following page: Presentation of the proposal at the studio final exhibition

the faรงade Jakarta, Indonesia 2004 Schoolwork

What is a wall? What is a fence? Could they liberate instead of hinder, permitting a certain movement instead of giving permanent refusal of access? How could architecture act as an urban intervention that is small in scale, but big in impact? Could architecture learn from art, in the aspect of its shift from modern towards modernity? Could it serve as more as a way of thinking than just a silly pose? How to state preference towards the forgotten majority, such as pedestrians, instead of elements of capitalistic growth, such as motorized vehicles, through architecture on a certain public domain, such as streets?

This page: Proposed module for shopfronts Following page: Proposed facade module & stair alleys





DOWN This spread (above): Structural facade plan for houses (middle): The axonometry of the structural facade plan for houses (below): The axonometry of the structural facade plan for shopfronts






This page: The project in bukubukan publication Following page: Presentation of the proposal at the studio final exhibition

This spread (above): The publication Following page (below): Perspective cut

façade competition Siteless 2007 Competition and publication Client: Imelda Akmal Architecture Writer Result: the chosen 125

How could an urban intervention be given towards an architectural element, so blatant in itself it’s so frequently overlooked? Could we reinstate the importance of the face of a building in its urban context? How should it relate to the generic informal activities of dwellings? Could it be made further into unsaid gestures? Could it render different shades of interactive openness at the same time? Not only towards the harsh natural conditions, but also to the population?

This spread: The facade proposal, on different contexts

Club House Bodrum, Turkey 2008 Initial proposal Office: Selin Maner Architects Client: Mastergolf Role: Design architect Project architect: Selin Maner Project team: Kooi Pang

Could we render the outermost skin of a collection of buildings as a blanket? What consequences would it bring? What kind of relationship it would form with their surrounding landscape? Could we knock down the vertical barrier between building layers, made into beings by the tyrannical law of gravity?

Previous page: Initial sketches This page (above): Exploded axonometry showing the different element surfaces This page (below): Axonometry showing the combined surfaces

Previous page: Renderings This page (above): Sketch of section This page (middle): Section This page (below): Site Plan

This page: Detail of the hexagonal module Following page: Perspective from the bench towards the football field

sportables competition Sao Paolo, Brazil 2008 Competition and publication Client: Architecture for Humanity Result: -

What should be learned and take further from the experiments first conducted by Bucky Fuller, in term of modularization of construction elements? Why do we keep on using rectangular forms in modulating our built environment? Could we turn the nature of a certain geometrical shape into floors, roofs, walls, etc.—rendering their categorization inadequate? In the context of our contemporary society, shouldn’t architecture be hybrid already? Not only in function, but as well as modes of construction?

This page: Ground level plan Following page: Field level plan Following spread: Exterior perspective


Previous page: Construction phase

This page: Preliminary sketch Following page: Maquette

Photos by Phnom Penh Post

Southern Cardamom Mountain Eco-Tourism Development Eco-Lodges

Chi Phat, Cambodia 2008-2009 Built Office: Selin Maner Architects Client: Wildlife Alliance Role: Design architect Project architect: Selin Maner Team: Kooi Pang, Ahti Westphal, Marisa Faizul Drafter: id93 Contractor and engineering consultant: Tous Saphann

How to make something out of nothing in the middle of nowhere? Further, how could we restrain ourselves from using any kind of timber products on an area located in the middle of lush forestry? How to make the best out of the absent of rigid regional building codes? The combinations of both ingenious building methods and materials— straw roofings, bamboo walls—and affordable generic ones brought by modernity—precast concrete, glass panes—could provide answers, maybe?

This and following pages: Various stages of the bungalows’ roof studies Following spread: Maquette

This and following pages: Initial renderings Water color touch-ups by Rudy Nurdiawan

Southern Cardamom Mountain Eco-Tourism Development Eco-Lodges

Chi Phat, Cambodia 2008 Initial proposal Office: Selin Maner Architects for Tomahouse Client: Wildlife Alliance Role: Assistant architect Project architect: Selin Maner Illustration: Rudy Nurdiawan

Would it be too much to take an advanced building methods and materials, abundant and overlooked in the developed economies, into its backward, developing counterpart?

This page: Maquette Following page: 3 initial proposed layout alternatives

Southern Cardamom Mountain Eco-Tourism Development Visitor Center & accomodation Tatai, Cambodia 2009 Built Office: Selin Maner Architects Client: Wildlife Alliance Role: Design architect Project architect: Selin Maner Team: Kooi Pang, Ahti Westphal, Marisa Faizul Drafter: Nuon Ponleou Contractor and engineering consultant: Tous Saphann

How could we downscale, combine, and compress certain ambitions into built forms? How could we upscale an area by erecting an architecture that serve as its entrance gate? Could we introduce international exhibitions standards into a secluded area, envisioned to be a touristic destination in the future?

This page: Maquette

This page (above): Maquette of the accomodation (below): Renderings of the accomodation Following page (above): Site plan of the accomodation (below): Section of the accomodation

This and following page (background): Maquette of the Visitor Center Following page (above): Section of the Visitor Center (below): Site Plan of the Visitor Center

This page: Book store interior of the Visitor Center Following page: Bench details of the Visitor Center

This and following pages: Initial renderings 3D renderings by Made Suwita Watercolor touch-ups by Rudy Nurdiawan

Southern Cardamom Mountain Eco-Tourism Development Riverfront development Tatai, Cambodia 2008 Initial proposal Office: Selin Maner Architects Client: Wildlife Alliance Role: Assistant architect Project architect: Selin Maner Illustration: Made Suwita & Rudy Nurdiawan

This and following page: Initial renderings 3D renderings by Gusde Watercolor touch-ups by Rudy Nurdiawan

Southern Cardamom Mountain Eco-Tourism Development Spa resort

Tatai, Cambodia 2008 Initial proposal Office: Selin Maner Architects Client: Wildlife Alliance Role: Assistant architect Project architect: Selin Maner Illustration: Gusde & Rudy Nurdiawan

This and following page: Initial renderings Watercolor touch-ups by Rudy Nurdiawan

Southern Cardamom Mountain Eco-Tourism Development Pagoda and Market Retrofitting Tatai, Cambodia 2009 Proposal Office: Selin Maner Architects Client: Wildlife Alliance Role: Assistant architect Project architect: Selin Maner Illustration: Rudy Nurdiawan

Southern Cardamom Mountain Eco-Tourism Development Visitor centers

Tatai, Chi Phat, Andong Teuk, Trapeang Reung; Cambodia 2008 Initial proposal Office: Selin Maner Architects Client: Wildlife Alliance Role: Assistant architect Project architect: Selin Maner Illustration: Gusde & Rudy Nurdiawan

How to stamp certain identities into an area by utilizing architectural pieces? What kind of universal language could we use? By glancing at mythologies and ancient world-view wisdoms? Don’t we all understand the 4 elements of nature—air, fire, earth, and water? Should architecture have fun with advertisement and image-making—its inherent qualities that are not only holding so much potentialities, but also dangerous at the same time?

This and following pages: Initial renderings Interior 3D renderings by Gusde Watercolor touch-ups by Rudy Nurdiawan

Southern Cardamom Mountain Eco-Tourism Development Visitor centers —Air building Tatai, Cambodia 2008 Initial proposal Office: Selin Maner Architects Client: Wildlife Alliance Role: Assistant architect Project architect: Selin Maner Illustration: Gusde & Rudy Nurdiawan

This and following pages: Initial renderings Interior 3D renderings by Gusde Watercolor touch-ups by Rudy Nurdiawan

Southern Cardamom Mountain Eco-Tourism Development Visitor centers 窶認ire building

Trapeang Reung, Cambodia 2008 Initial proposal Office: Selin Maner Architects Client: Wildlife Alliance Role: Assistant architect Project architect: Selin Maner Illustration: Gusde & Rudy Nurdiawan

This spread (below): Initial sketch by Selin Maner

Southern Cardamom Mountain Eco-Tourism Development Visitor centers —Earth building Chi Phat, Cambodia 2008 Initial proposal Office: Selin Maner Architects Client: Wildlife Alliance Role: Assistant architect Project architect: Selin Maner Illustration: Gusde & Rudy Nurdiawan

This and following pages: Initial renderings Interior 3D renderings by Gusde Watercolor touch-ups by Rudy Nurdiawan

This and following pages: Initial renderings Interior 3D renderings by Gusde Watercolor touch-ups by Rudy Nurdiawan

Southern Cardamom Mountain Eco-Tourism Development Visitor centers —Water building Andong Teuk, Cambodia 2008 Initial proposal Office: Selin Maner Architects Client: Wildlife Alliance Role: Assistant architect Project architect: Selin Maner Illustration: Gusde & Rudy Nurdiawan

This and following page: Maquette Photos by Ir. Siti Utamini

Beach house Imaginary site 2000 Schoolwork

What does architecture as means for human adaptation really mean? A tool to undermine the natural resources surrounding it? What to make out of a white-sand beach with a mild current rates, implanted with 3 coconut trees? Hypothetically, can I live by myself in a certain given condition? As my first ever architectural exercise and attempt, what could it reflect on my basic understanding of architecture?

This and following pages: Construction, interior, and exterior photos Photos by CBET

Southern Cardamom Mountain Eco-Tourism Development CBET Center

Chi Phat, Cambodia 2009 Built Office: Selin Maner Architects Client: Community-Based Eco-Tourism (CBET) Chi Phat commune, Wildlife Alliance Role: Team architect Project architect: Selin Maner Team member: Kooi Pang, Ahti Westphal Bamboo consultant: Georg Stamm

Would not constraints give us the chance to create the most honest architecture? The more of them, the more straightforward the form of our answers would be, wouldn’t it? How could we use construction process as a method of not only as a community empowerment tool, but also as a way to boost their selfawareness and appreciation? What is bamboo? Could we elevate its dogmatic status as poorman’s material into something that is locally appreciated?

This page (above): Floor plan (below): Axonometry

Simply Simpler Route:

An Alternative Reading of Simplicity in Space 2010 Essay Publisher: Vol. 4 #2 Originally written in English Full illustrated version can be found at:

Design world, especially architecture discipline seems to have inherited problem in accepting simplicity. It seems to be made for a complicated world, to understand it one must learn to accept complexity throughout the years of schooling and practice, making complexity its major practical virtue. Architects’ purpose seems to be positioned in their ability to understand world complexities, and delivering it to you as discernible objects; it is supposedly to be their job to translate your dream into reality. Taking the position of visionaries into account, it is their ability to set the path of your journey into the future. In spite of their operation in complexities and inability to accept simplicity, current fashion may possibly state otherwise. Observing minimalism that strives for pure geometrical shapes, its devotion to white, and the reduction of elements leaving only the essentials intact; explorations towards simplicity seems to be one of the most important priorities in their agenda. On the surface, this opinion rings some truth. How else could we explain a globalized world that some dubbed was united under one commercially and, design wise, critically acclaimed flag - ‘the coolest company anywhere’, a globalized world known as ‘Apple Nation’ ? In essence, taking post-war modernism and its consequent Universal Style as its ancestors, it should be presumed that minimalism should have tackled the question on how the simplicity concept has taken its place in the realm of architecture. The matter seems to be well set in its course. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride this so-calledsimplified world endlessly offers you. You just need to follow by doing the thing you are best at: consume. The comfortable seat would not be shaken until you learn that there are alternative ways, ones that seek further about the true meaning of simplicity. Looking at other spaces, produced by the other end of the spectrum from mere architects and designers. For those who produce living space, as well as transactional spaces for themselves, it is questionable, whether or not simplicity is still a condition they value. Edward de Bono (1998) said it best when he stated the tenth of his 10 rules of simplicity: ‘know for whose sake the simplicity is being designed’. It is always assumed for the end-user, which simplicity is generated for. But is it simpler for the maker as well? Is something that looks and operates in simplicity, actually is simple? Is an iPod a simple enough product?

Is a minimalist house embodied the concept of simplicity more than simplistic cigarette stalls located on various spots on the very same street with your house? What if, not unlike those cigarette sellers, you want to create your own space? Being not only an imaginary producer, but also the user of your own space, would you strive for a product that looks simple or actually simple through and through? To help you through, some guides are given here. The texts given are provided by Edward de Bono (1998) and John Maeda (2006), two of the foremost thinkers who has taken simplicity as the core of their past campaigns. In the sake of simplicity, both texts could be summarised into seven ultimatums of simplicity: 1. Less is desirable. 2. Simplicity does not only make you understand the matter very well, but you also have to understand it very well in order to achieve simplicity. 3. By putting a distance between us with the matter at hand, we might understand it better by conceptualisation. 4. Organization creates an order by which we understand matters simply easier. 5. Appreciate the thought that has gone to products. 6. What is simplicity without complexity? What is beauty without ugliness? 7. Simplicity could only work when it is put in its intended surroundings, with some flexibility both in its formulation as well as application methods. The first exhibit shown in this alternative path is the series of works created by the winner of DMY International Design Festival Berlin 2010 Award Numen/For Use [Fig. 1]. They use a very simplistic product such as transparent adhesive tape to create their life-size installations, which resulted in ‘complex, amorphous surface through the process reminiscent of growing of organic forms’. This process serves as a reaction against various given contexts such as old attics, columns of a historical building, an industrial concrete structures, or a custom scaffolding construction. They represent the space possibilities created using a D-I-Y ethos, anywhere and anytime, and essentially by anyone. The project embodies the seven ultimacy of simplicity, mentioned above, in an optimum way: 1. The notion of less is achieved by materiality. Being consistent with the material at hand, which could be acquired anywhere as a consequence being a mass-produced product. Could not it be a template, a blue print taken to various other forms using the same template? 2. The in-your-face process showed us deep spatial understanding [Fig. 2]. In their understanding, space is not a fixed, stable, given entity. It is constantly in flux, flexible, and most importantly, subject for interruption. 3. Because of the simplicity imbued in the projects, it puts some resistance for us to imitate them as they are. By successfully rendering the projects as template, the artist has touched the realm of concepts and in a way forcing us to go into the same level. 4. In order to come up with the result, each project must be understood firstly by its existing order first. Structurally speaking, this

order comes in the form of both physical construction and habitation. How users move in a certain built realities define their interventions. 5. You might think it is a very banal series of projects, therefore not deserving any attention. However,seeing it from the understanding of simplicity forces us to appreciate it more. The appreciation could be taken further by looking through daily produced spaces in our everyday environment. I would dub this as seeing originality in banality. 6. Complexity is grasped as the other side of the coin of simplicity. Instead of hiding complexities behind pure geometrical patterns as minimalism does, simple concepts and production processes were translated into an arguably complex form in appearance in the final products. 7. Do I have to do more explanation on this point with words? Using our understanding of the first exhibit as a precedent, we might want to proceed to the second exhibit, which is the Truffle project by Ensamble Studio/Antón García-Abril [Fig. 3]. The process of its space production is as they explained: “We made a hole in the ground, piling up on its perimeter the topsoil removed, and we obtained a retaining dike without mechanical consistency. Then, we materialized the air building a volume with hay bales and flooded the space between the earth and the built air to solidify it. The poured mass concrete wrapped the air and protected itself with the ground. Time passed and we removed the earth discovering an amorphous mass. The earth and the concrete exchanged their properties. The land provided the concrete with its texture and color, its form and its essence, and concrete gave the earth its strength and internal structure. But what we had created was not yet architecture, we had fabricated a stone. We made a few cuts using quarry machinery to explore its core and discovered its mass inside built with hay, now compressed by the hydrostatic pressure exerted by concrete on the flimsy vegetable structure. To empty the interior, the calf Paulina arrived, and enjoyed the 50m3 of the nicest food, from which she nourished for a year until she left her habitat, already as an adult and weighing 300 kilos. She had eaten the interior volume, and space appeared for the first time, restoring the architectural condition of the truffle after having been a shelter for the animal and the vegetable mass for a long time.” This unconventional project makes us question the basic spatial production and manufacturing process. Instead of the usual path of creating a periphery and boundaries of an architectural project, they carved out a space out of a solid mass, feeding a calf that grew into a fullgrown cow during the process. Despite its stated concentration of poetic exploration through the means of tectonic expressions by the architects, I chose to see it as simply an exercise of simplicity in full architectural scale. Breaking it down into the seven ultimacy of simplicity once again, we might conclude that: 1. Total reduction is fully achieved in this project by creating a space that is multi-functioned and could be multi-interpreted. What is a cave for essentially? Didn’t it form our basic understanding of architecture, as human beings, in the first place? 2. The architects’ understanding of materiality, structure, construction, and the tectonic dimension of a project were put into a test by creating such a project. These aspects are best shown in schematic

Re f e re nc es Edward de Bono (1998). Simplicity. London: Penguin. Farhad Manjoo (2010). “Invincible Apple: 10 Lessons From the Coolest Company Anywhere.” Fast Company, July 1 2010 Edition, (Online), (, accessed June 25 2010) John Maeda (2006). The Laws of Simplicity. Boston, MIT Press: 2006. Additional information about For Use/Numen can be found on their website (http://, while the DMY 2010 Award news was reported by designboom ( weblog/cat/8/view/10593/ dmy-2010-award-winnerforusenumen.html).

model made to construct the imagined space in the architects’ head [Fig. 5]. The subsequent question remains unanswered for now: how does the user perceive the space offered here in relation to its function? 3. The distance we need to establish in order to come up with this kind of projects is the distance between us and the commonly accepted ways of architectural practice. What is simpler than the carving process in spatial creation? Why can’t most of us let nature have its way in providing us with habitual spaces? Why do most of us have so little time to wait and reflect upon our live pattern in the contemporary society? In simplicity, this project offers us the deeper question of our own life. 4. What is more beautiful than letting go some of our controlling tendencies as human beings? By letting the earth to intrinsically be earth, the hays be essentially hays, the calf be naturally calf, as well as the cement be whatever it wanted to be, the creators’ could achieve pleasantly surprising result in its interior physicality, which is impossible to plan and perceived upon beforehand [Fig. 6]. This ability to impose certain orders modestly is admirable. 5. Have you been able to appreciate your surroundings and see potentials within it, by the help of this project already? 6. Do you still think that minimalism is the style that embodied the spirit of simplicity in its creation the most? Or are you seeing the term of simplicity in a different light right now? Isn’t it a given thing that simplicity is best experienced in the richness of the result? Isn’t looking for simplicity merely in looks could be considered a deceitful act? 7. By putting and manufacturing the architecture in situ, they have rendered the project inimitable. Back to conceptualisation, mentioned in point number three, we should be able to create our own space by the help of natural forces as something that provides us with additional benefits, as opposed to as something we constantly fight against, anywhere and anytime. If these architects and artists can do it, so can you. Who says that we need them to lead and show us the way anyway? After passing through both exhibits, it is my hope to prove the righteousness of one of de Bono’s statements, ‘discovering the underlying simplicity of a process is more likely to be useful than imaginative and complex description of phenomena.’ In our way, I hope you see how simplicity is best applied in conceptual and practical terms as opposed to physical and aesthetical ones, in order to offer both the producer and the consumer of space new experience in the built environment. To dispute with de Bono and Maeda’s different reading of the concept, the most important aspect of simplicity for me is that it also opens the possibilities for anyone to create their own spaces. It has been my pleasure to be your guide during this short trip through the alternative path of simplicity, whose exhibits is popular knowledge, but which reading are left unknown for the most of us. I had a great time, but unfortunately we must be parted in our ways for now. You must get back to your comfortable boulevard, while I must continue looking for other alternative routes. Mind your step in, as well as after, your way out. Thank you.


We’re Iwang and Tita. You’re Jakarta, aren’t you? Let’s go play! 2010 Essay Publisher: Karbon Journal September 2010 Originally written in Indonesian. Translation by Rani Elsanti Full illustrated version can be found at:

Previous page: Me, as part of AhmettSalina’s Urban PLAY project series Photo by Ary Sendy

“The city is not only a language, but also a practice” —Henri Lefebvre, in Writings on Cities, 1996 The exhibition space of Jakarta Punya! became so lively that afternoon. In August 3 – 10, 2010, the new exhibition space that usually presents Jakarta knickknacks and whatnots to support the Indonesian creative industry through tourism was full of a variety of installation works. On the wall next to me, to the left of the entrance, is the text: “The Urban PLAY exhibition: when designers playing [sic] in their city”. This was an exhibition of works by Irwan Ahmett and Tita Salina. Inside, one could see numbers indicating the nine visual projects that the artists have made, as well as a series of projections on the wall and cheeky exclamations in handwriting. The two of them turned the commercial exhibition space into a common playground, a miniature of their activism idea about public awareness of the urban space. This was a project that the artists have been preoccupied with for three months. The nine projects were recorded in a series of video works. One of them shows Tita Salina and Irwan Ahmett(or Iwang) talking in a building construction store, while directing several bricklayers to re-arrange the piles of wooden beams sold in the store. With the re-arranged timbers, a pair of seats facing each other and a table gradually came to being and every passers-by was welcome to use them. The store space became like a laid-back living room. Another video work was shot in the area of Pasar Minggu, South Jakarta, presenting the orange umbrellas that are commonly found in the market sheltering the hawkers. Irwan and Tita asked the sellers to twirl their umbrellas simultaneously. When they presented the video recording of the event, they deliberately accelerated the twirling of the umbrellas, making the umbrellas seem to be dancing on the screen. Their works reveal a distinct character, and the artists-couple, Irwan Ahmett (35) and Tita Salina (37), also represents a peculiar case of urban citizens. That they are residents of Jakarta no one could deny. The city, however, still begs to know her residents better. Irwan and Tita know their city as best as they need to—but is that really enough? As a

graphic-designer duo that goes by the name of AhmettSalina, they have often posed questions of personal happiness through their campaigns. Consider their previous projects, Change Yourself (2005) and Happiness Project (2008). What is going to happen if they now choose to present a series of similar questions by using the urban space? To answer this, AhmettSalina began this projecteven before they started planning for the exhibition at the Jakarta Punya! gallery. From May 2010 to August 2010, they regularly uploaded their works in the Urban PLAY series onto the site owned by Desain Grafis Indonesia (DGI, or the Indonesian Graphic Designers). The exhibition at the end served more as a closure and a celebration for the nine works in the series. The uploading of the video documentations indicates that the artists duo was not satisfied: they felt that they needed to be reacquainted with their city, Jakarta, without pretending that it would be of any use. Like any other good acquaintanceship, the process acquires its best form percisely because the artists have left it open-ended. Visitors to the site would be able to see the conclusion of each of the works, but like AhmettSalina, they would not know what was going to happen in the next work. The artists tried to appreciate Jakarta through the concept of ‘play’. AhmettSalina believes that the cheeky and childlike qualities of the city residents must again be brought to the fore, not only to help the residents deal with the pressures of the big city, but also to reveal the city’s character. AhmettSalina believes that happy individuals would together create a better communal life. Is there still any doubt about their belief in happiness? *** Before we proceed with the examination on the nine works, it might be a good idea to pose some questions so that we can look at the underlying motives of this project. Those of you who are impatient can immediately click the links to the video works and observe the pictures of the projects. Those of you who are patient enough can stay with me and pose the questions. The first question would be: “Playing what?” They played with their city, without ignoring their expertise and profession. Typography, for example, was often used as an object of the play in the series. The decision to re-present the process of playing through photography and video works was also due to their awareness about their creative medium; an awareness that they have acquired from their profession. The next question is: “Playing where?” We all know how Jakarta suffers from a dearth of public space, especially playing space. The only remaining “public spaces” are the malls and the streets. The street, for Shiraishi, is a place for “people who do not know one another and therefore are not bound by any social relationships” and a ‘fearful’ place for Jakarta’s middle and upper classes. But it is precisely to the street that AhmettSalina invited us to go and play. It is a choice made to help people realize that perhaps their fear of the street has no basis. Indeed, the street is not a clean, cool, and controlled place like the mall. The street is hot, dirty, and ugly. But by stating that the value of life does not depend solely on economic exchanges, perhaps we can

welcome other values that we have been unaware of, values that are more humane in nature. Eventually, the final question is: “Why play?” The concept of playing itself can be used as a strategy to make the citizens more aware of their rights. We do not have to look too far behind into the past—the previous century offers examples of how the concept of playing was used in flexible manners. Consider, for example, the search for humanist in-betweening spaces by Aldo van Eyck as brought up in his “urban in-fill playgrounds” in The Netherlands. Then there was also the Situationiste Internationale group who employed the strategy of psychogeography with critical and playful techniques to bring back the power into the hands of the citizens, to empower the citizens as they relate to the city space. Today, we can see the popular interventions by skateboarders and urban jumpers who assign meanings to the urban formal infrastructure by employing their bodies through their playful activities. It is in such a context that AhmettSalina’s work, Urban PLAY, seems to continue the thread of idea about the city space as the playground for its residents—not only for the present, but also for Jakarta as a city, a place. People have an increasingly greater trust in games as the medium that would replace the more mature and conventional media used to convey ideas, such as books and films. We are, afterall, also homo ludens, “a playing man”. In the words of Michael Fergusson, founder of Ayogo studio specializing in developing casual and mobile games: “We learn better, we socialize better, we work more productively and gain greater satisfaction from that work, when we play.” In the series, the adult AhmettSalina becomes like a child playing in thekindergarten sandbox. They invite us to join them in the sandbox. Who knows, the sand might beplentiful enough for us all and can be given to more people, distributed into the classes where formal teaching takes place: the kind of education that has the objective to make us all the same, uniform and obedient. It was with the desire to spread this idea that they decided to upload the documentation of their video works on to DGI’s site, coupled with the promotion that they did through their Facebook account. The choice to use the virtual space as an exhibition space, however, brings with it many consequences. Let us briefly consider Lefebvre’s idea about space. Lefebvre conceptualized the space into a triad: that of the perceived, conceived, and lived space. A wall can be perceived as a wall, conceived through technical drawings as an arrangement of bricks or concrete, and lived when paints are sprayed over it or a dog urinates on it. Lefebvre believed that it is the last category of space in the triad—the lived space—that offers the greatest opportunity for us to defeat the old powers in a city. In the context of AhmettSalina’s series of works, this lived space is represented by the street. However, although AhmettSalina did actually play on the street, we can only observe it through the video works uploaded onto DGI’s site. We, the virtual surfers, are the artists’ target audience, but we are not necessarily residents of this lived space. By presenting their street plays on the virtual world, the artists undermined the actual introduction that took place in the lived space, transforming it into a summary of their field notes. If they are not careful, the audience might perceive the summary as the reality.

AhmettSalina’s projects were thus exposed to an even greater risk: The risk to be preoccupied and fall into the trap of thinking that the notes and the documentation are more important than the process of reintroduction itself. What would you feel if the person to whom you have just been introduced is then preoccupied by the activities of taking notes of everything you say and recording all your movements using his or her Blackberry camera? Of course, the answer would depend on whether or not you are a narcissist. Is Jakarta a narcissist city? To answer it, we must return to the Urban PLAY series. Like all introductions, the moment of encounter might have a variety of meanings. Look at your beloved’sface. How did you meet? How many different moments you have shared that immediately come to mind? Are there sweet, awkward, funny, annoying, or loving moments? Likewise, the Urban PLAY series seems to contain different expressions. Let us look at them in greater details. *** Urban PLAY #1: “Blindness Test” is the first work in the series. AhmettSalina used oranges, chilies, and tomatoes that they found in the Pasar Minggu market in South Jakarta. They arranged the vegetables to create the alphabets of P, L, A, and Y. They, for example, used a tray of red chilies as the background for a letter arranged from green chilies. The differences in the vegetables’ colors and forms help the letter stand out, making the resulting image look like a device for colorblind tests. Here they use typography, a branch of knowledge with which they are involved in their day-to-day work as “visual communicators”. They employ typography as the basis for their play. It is a pity, however, that they merely use typography to form letters. The most important aspect of typography—i.e. the formation ofletters to create words that can subsequently form texts in the larger context of the city space—remains untouched. As a test for their bigger concept, however, this work seems to constitute AhmettSalina’s first introduction to the city. Here the duoseems to be shaking hands with Jakartawho offers them Pasar Minggu as its hand. “Hello, we’re Irwan Ahmett and Tita Salina, visual communicators. Your hands have the texture that we can use to create letters. Can we play with it?” It’s simple. It’s done. See you again later. Urban PLAY #2: “Public Furniture”. This was the video that I first saw in the exhibition space. Collaborating with the bricklayers in a building construction store, AhmettSalina rearranged the piles of wooden beams sold in the depot, enabling passing pedestrians to use them as seats, complete with atable made from similar timbers. They even provided Wi-Fi connection in the newly-shaped space, so that pedestrians can sit down and spend some time surfing the Net from there. The piles of timbers have been transformed into a cozy corner. The work touches both the space and its users. AhmettSalina is not posing questions about the infiltration of the private into the public space; rather, the artist here is talking about the hidden possibility in which the (more) public space can be created in a place that has been considered as private, and even in places that are commercial in nature like the building construction store. Perhaps in Jakarta we still long

for and need the type of space similar to the bale-bale in a Javanese home, where the public and the private can meet and have dialogues. AhmettSalina tries to create such a space in this work. This time, they do not design something to solve problems, but rather create an artwork that gives rise to many open-ended questions, such as: Do the private and the public spaces indeed require an intermediary space like the balebale in a Javanese home? No one can thoroughly answer this question; it all depends on the person who is experiencing the space and feels its needs. However, this is precisely what AhmettSalina is talking about. The work, therefore, is a slap in the face for many parties, especially those who claim to be urban designers and architects, who rarely discuss the possible needs for intermediary spaces in Jakarta. Clearly, the body of the city contains much potential that can be used to support its residents. However, our narrow minds and restricted sights have veiled and hidden a lot of these potentials.With Public Furniture, AhmettSalina briefly takes off the veil and encourages interactions not only through economic transactions, but also amongthe mass. Such activation goes beyond the possible relations that merely rely on prices or economic values. Lefebvre would have been proud, and I dare say Jakarta would be, too. The city starts to smile. Urban PLAY #3: “Dancing Umbrellas”. This was also one of the works that I first saw in the exhibition. Here, AhmettSalina asked for help from the hawkers at Pasar Minggu market in South Jakarta to make choreography of dancing umbrellas. The big umbrellas that shelter the sellers and their wares are twirled simultaneously, making theumbrellas seem to dance in the midst of the chaotic market. The work is transformed into an exploration in which the real space, which is often experienced and perceived with the perspectives of the human eyes, is reduced to become something that dryly moves on the video representation. Such a representation is distanced from the reality of our day-to-day lives due to the bird-eye perspective that is employed here. Furthermore, the work can only be observed by viewers who watch it online on DGI site. The hawkers themselves cannot immediately see the results. Here we can say that the exploration is purely aesthetic, as AhmettSalina increases the rhythm of the movements and takes wellchoreographed shots and compositions. The work further confirms the exotic perspectives often employed in the documentation of banal images that tourists perceive as beautiful. It is such banality that becomes a grand stage on which creative interventions cantake place by transforming the chaotic reality into something that is nice to look at. The resulting image is further distributed to the public who share a similar perception. The bird-eye perspective is the only perspective to use if one is to enjoy the choreography. The choice to use the medium of the video makes the work seem almost patronizing as it gives the impression that the video-makers have greater sensitivity for the visual awareness that might arise from day-to-day life. Urban PLAY #4: “Monorail Slalom”. Here the artists invited casual joggers on a Sunday morning to run in a zigzag pattern, passing the pillars that have been left behindfrom the failed plan to construct the Monorail system. The pillars are located behind the House of

Representatives in Senayan, South Jakarta. The work becomes a communal protest—masked as choreography of communal sport—about the flawed urban policy. The work is actually an accidental success story. The participation of the morning joggers at Senayan had been an improvised gesture. Initially, Irwan Ahmett and Tita Salina planned to do the sport with only several volunteers. When they saw the joggers, they decided, on the spur of the moment, to invite the casual runners to take part in the project. The political potentials of the body were thus manifested in the video. The transience of physical movements was used as a tool for activism, reduced in sport. It is a protest conveyed with a smile. Urban PLAY #5: “Jakarate”. In the work ‘Jakarta plus karate’, they took pictures of a series of broken objects on the street, seemingly damaged by human violence delivered through martial arts. It is a protest about the poor maintenance of urban public facilities. We see here how the traffic signs seem to become bent due to a kick delivered by a city resident. The potentials to politicize the body as seen in Monorail Slalom are thus further explored by situating the body as a device of fictional narrative that blurs the boundary between protests and fun. Photography is used here as the main medium. Had the artists not complemented them with information and video documentations—to maintain their loyalty to the template used in the other works in the series—the surprise effect and the questions that the work could stir within the mind of the audience could perhaps become even more phenomenal. The freezing up of the moments—photography’s signature illusion—can make people believe, albeit temporarily, that the traffic signs were truly victims of karate attacks. Physicality is indeed important in an introduction. The body, apart from becoming a signifier, is also perceived as something with multiple meanings. The first three works in the series, Dancing Umbrellas, Monorail Slalom, and Jakarate, chronologically document the following process: From flattery, “Your black eyelashes look so beautiful when you’re blinking” (replace ‘black eyelashes’ with “orange hawkers’ umbrellas”); a protest due to a certain feeling of ownership, “Your skin showspatterned marks of your planned tattoo. When will you lose them? Or have you finally decided to really make a tattoo?” (replace ‘planned tattoo’ with ‘planned monorail’); and eventually rudeness: “Your pimples leave pockmarks on your skin. Can I stick something into them?” (replace ‘pimples’ with ‘urban ruins’). Isn’t it true that certain rudeness is a form of intimacy? Urban PLAY #6: “Sweat Tee”. The work shows the artists’ shrewdness in using a medium that the public is familiar with: T-shirt. A grey map of Jakarta was screen-printed onto the shirt, appearing like sweat marks on the chest. The “Jakarta sweat” is also visible around the armpits. The work can communicate well with the public without any need for further information. To assess the success of these shirt works, only one standard is required: that of market reception. With a limited distribution and rather sloppy screen-printing technique, this great idea might end up, at best, being a footnote in the debates about the

relationship between works of art and the public. Let us just wait for the sales result. The work, however, enables us to perceive Jakarta as a reflection of ourselves. We can respond better to acquaintances with whom we can personally relate. The recordsof the changes will eventually become reflections of them over our bodies. The T-shirt might encourage casual chats with people you meet on the street. Now look at your belovedagain. Are there any changes in your emotions that might affect you physically? Perhaps your heart is beating faster, your palms are sweating, or your breaths become shorter. AhmettSalina realizes that your chest and armpits become sweaty because of Jakarta. Urban PLAY #7: “Hidden Messages” is a treasure game, inviting Jakarta residents to take part in the game of searching for a series of words that would eventually form sentences. AhmettSalina invited volunteers to hide wordcapsules in locations spanning from Matraman busway station to the base camp of the popular band Slank, on Jalan Potlot, Duren Tiga, South Jakarta; from the Chinese restaurant Kamseng in Mangga Besar to the fruit stall at Tanjung Priok train station. Even Irwan and Tita themselves did not know where the volunteers hid the word capsules. First, AhmettSalina uploaded onto DGI’s site some puzzles that the audience must solve. They expected the audience to be actively involved and challenged enough to go out and find the word capsules and report on their findings through DGI’s site. To date, however, not one person has been challenged enoughto actually go out and take part in the game. Technical mastery and experience in viral marketing mustplay a significant role in such a work. One must thoroughly understand the game psychology in which “rewards and punishments” are invariably present. People would feel challenged if they are given rewards, no matter whatever forms these rewards might take. The chance of their joining the game only because they feel like it or because they love Jakarta as much as AhmettSalina is quite slim. Perhaps such a treasure game would be challenging enough only when it is done in an actual space as opposed to the virtual one. This is evident in their success when AhmettSalina replicated the game during the opening of their exhibition: the audience was then able to rise to AhmettSalina’s challenges and solve the puzzle in less than two hours. The time has not come for the game to be played on the virtual space through video works that require two-way interactions: from the video to the street, then back on to the virtual space. Urban PLAY #8: “Street Fashion”. This work employs a range of urban visual elements such as the LED lamps often used to decorate motorbikes, soap bubbles that children play with, and garden plants often sold on the street in Jakarta. These visual elements are transformed into fashion elements. In AhmettSalina’s eyes, Jakarta residents should have no qualms in appearing like futuristic robots, or like hanging garden in response to the global climate change, or even transforming themselves into a burst-able gamelike soap bubbles. This play is presented in the form of street fashion pictures that are all the rage today among the world’s urbanites. Reappropriation is the strategy that AhmettSalina employshere, and in the process the context plays a significant role. Oomleo, member

of the band Goodnight Electric, was dressed up as a futuristic human descending onto the streets of Jakarta at night, with the decorating lamps on his motorbike. The work might garner better reception among street fashion enthusiasts with greater awareness about images. By “image” I mean the mental picture that freely appears in a triggered mind. Oomleo, a musician in a well-known band, is as important here as the glittering lamps. The lamps and the celebrity status of the figure, when wellcombined, can create a strong image. There is a touch of the celebrity, the glamour, glitters, and Dionysian excitement. In the case of the unknown models dressed up as soap bubbles or hanging gardens, however, do we get the same intoxicating effects? I don’t think so. If only AhmettSalina maintained the awareness about the image and the context throughout the series, the maximum effect (that they can either mock or use) could be produced. “Sweat Tee” shows that Jakarta can also affect the body, make us sweaty, leaving marks that we see as the map of Jakarta on the shirt. Here AhmettSalina is not afraid to state that Jakarta can affect the way we dress. They dare to share this insight and encourage other Jakarta residents to be involved. Urban PLAY #9: “Keep Playing”. After their preoccupation with Jakarta, it is a pity that AhmettSalina chose to conclude the series in Tibet. They return to the typography strategy of the first work, but here they use T-shirts forming the farewell message of “Keep Playing” in front of a lake. In fact, they could have not kept their promise to create nine works. The decision to conclude the incompleteJakarta process during their journey to Tibet was not a wise one. The farewell message turned out to taste like a dessert that spoils the appetite that has been stimulated by previous dishes. Still, let us just say that every exhibition needs spices. The final work was only published when the exhibition took place, enticing their loyal audience to stay tuned and see the conclusion to the project. It is as if Jakarta’s eyes are opened because it turns out that Jakarta is not the pair’s only interest. It is also an eye-opening experience for us as we see possibilities for future works in the unfinished project. The conclusion is not the end, but rather the key to new possibilities. *** “‘Cos everybody hates a tourist Especially one who thinks it’s all such a laugh Yeah” —Pulp, “Common People”, from the album Different Class, 1995 With the whole re-introduction project, AhmettSalina has actually touched many aspects in the relationship between the city, its users, and the creative practices inside it. Professionals with backgrounds in urban policy should consider better such awareness-based activities. The question remains, however, whether AhmettSalina has actually succeeded in this aspect. An introduction, whether done for the first or the umpteenth time, is the first step for a better, established relationship. The journey for the planned campaigns has just begun. The

Re f e re nc es Liane Lefaivre & Alexander Tzonis. Aldo van Eyck: Humanist Rebel (Rotterdam: 010 Publishers, 1999). Iain Borden, Joe Kerr, Jane Rendell, with Alicia Pivaro, Ed. The Unknown City (London: The MIT Press, 2001). Iain Borden & Sandy McCreery ed. Architectural Design Vol. 71 No. 3: New Babylonians (London: John Wiley & Sons, 2001). Henri Lefebvre. The Production of Space, Donald NicholsonSmith translator. (Maiden: Blackwell Publishing, 2005). Simon Sadler. The Situationist City (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2001). Adam Penenberg. “Video Games Modifying Behavior towards Good” in Fast Company, July 14,2010. Accessed on July 15, 2010. Link: http://www.fastcompany. com/node/1669932/print Prodita Sabarini, “Irwan Ahmett and Tita Salina: The playful artist duo” in Jakarta Post, March 31,2010, accessed on July 15, 2010. Link: http:// news/2010/05/31/irwanahmett-and-tita-salina-theplayful-artist-duo.html Hanny Kardinata, “Bermain sebagai ‘Terapi’ dalam Menemukan Kebahagiaan: Wawancara bersama Irwan Ahmett”, July 29, 2010, accessed on July 29, 2010. Link: http://dgi-indonesia. com/bermain-sebagaiterapi-dalam-menemukankebahagiaan-wawancarabersama-irwan-ahmett/ Saya Sasaki Shiraishi, Pahlawan-Pahlawan Belia: Keluarga Indonesia dalam Politik, Jakarta Jakartateam, translators. (Jakarta: Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia, 2001)

parties involved in the re-introduction process have not had the chance to reflect on their experiences. Their touristic eyes, which consider every visible thing as new before realizing the physical potentials of the urban elements, are still trapped within the hysteria of visual enchantments. To return to the metaphor of your beloved: if you know your beloved well, his or her face would be more than just a face you admire. It is the qualities and potentials hidden behind Jakarta’s face that AhmettSalina still fails to deal with in greater details. It is indeed too soon to make any conclusionnow. One thing is certain: the future of Urban PLAY campaign should not rest only in the hands of AhmettSalina and their team, but also in ours. We all, myself included, should also be involved. In this case, we should consider the Urban PLAY series not as a new standard in assessing creative activities in the urban space. Rather, itis an inspirational series in the truest sense of the word. ***

Previous, this, and following page: The published book

Gerilya Urban (Urban Guerilla) Jakarta, Indonesia 2010 Teaching & book publication Elective design studio in Tarumanegara University Role: Studio facilitator & book co-editor

How should we, as human being treat, view, and improve Jakarta? What to do under the currently hopeless bureaucratic conditions? Should we pay more attention into smaller in scale, more managable phenomena? How should we intervene? What kind of architects would it make us? Last but not least, how to make this certain awareness grow more viral, by the minute?

This page (above-below): The altered and original images Following page: Presentation exhibited Photo by Fauzy Prasetya

o8_o4o4 - o417 Easy Project #2

What is a photograph? Is it less constructed than any other form of artistic media? Is it really objective reality it really captures?


What kind of shifts are happening because of the rising popularity of image processing softwares, such as Photoshop? Do they affect our perception of realities? Or is it our perception of reality that really needs to be shifted?

Bandung, Indonesia

This spread: Pimlico at The Loved Ones joint exhibition Following spread: Pimlico at CP Bienalle Photos by Yudhi Soerjoatmodjo

Pimlico The Loved Ones

What is love actually? Isn’t it just a temporary emotion made vital by our emotion, trigerred by a certain performance in our brains?

Jakarta, Indonesia

How to reflect this temporality using the medium of photography best? By not printing the photographs, rendering them as mere memorabilias?

& CP Bienalle 2005 2005 Executed Client: Yudhi Soerjoatmodjo, photographer Role: Exhibition designer & technician

How about its aspect of presentation? Is it the physical features that hold the most importance, or is it the images themselves?










8 10






12 32


Oxymoronic Geniuses 2009 Essay & illustration Publisher: Jong Arsitek!, first in their edition 2.3 (September 2009), and then in their compilation book entitled 11 x 8 Kumpulan Sudut Pandang Muda Originally written in English Full illustrated version can be downloaded at: jWcfq

From emotion, material, atmosphere, spirit, memory, biography, history, basic, essence, + texture, to oxymoron + idiosyncrasy. Either as a standalone, or combined to form a phrase [emotional materialism, spiritual texture, idiosyncratic oxymoron, etc.], these opening words are the ones that constantly ring in my head every time I hear either of these two following names. I still could not remember why I relate one name with the other, maybe they were mentioned together in a sentence on one of the design/fashion/ whatnot magazines I read in my stolen time during work. You can consider me a master thief in that sense. I’m focusing on not only about two individuals right now, but also about two brands. As every individual, they have names, + as every brand; they have carefully threaded nuances about them. To be considered as something mysterious + cool as these two is never a given thing, it’s a product of total control. Considering that I’m writing for an architectural publication, I’m proud to mention that the first of the two is Peter Zumthor. Considering the high image [therefore fashion] consciousness of my readers further, I can’t help but picking the other half to be Helmut Lang. It might be dubious to compare human beings with, say, Apple products or Lomo cameras, but as corporations have succeeded to invade our everyday lives as individuals [according to Adbusters, they apparently have ‘the right towards free speech, the ability to own property, the right to lobby government officials and protection against self-incrimination’], why not switch the position for awhile? Anyone’s name can be seen as a brand of a corporation too. As the core strength of any business, let’s begin with the products, the respective commodities being traded here: buildings, books + teaching positions for Zumthor; clothes, shoes + perfumes

for Lang. Both of the mentioned parties’ works have received a lot of praise, and who could disagree with those fashion insiders, trend setters, architectural critics + Pritzker Prize’s judges? As far as my abilities can go, as the rest of us regular beings, I have to be content with what I read, watch or listen to. Quoting the parties’ favorite words, in a sense: phenomenological. I have nothing to say about them in this proffesional realm anyway: I’ve never been to any of Zumthor’s buildings [he always insists on ‘experiencing the architecture first hand’, + to ‘never believe in photographs’] + never owned any of Lang’s pieces [be it before or after his departure from his own label in 2oo5, does not make any difference to me, albeit his persistence of his presence for the present - while ‘buying back a number of [his own] older pieces on Ebay’, according to W.] To push myself in this direction would be senseless. A pity, since the first collection of words written as the opening of this article could only be applied in this territory of conversation. Instead, there is another side of their story that I could focus on: the similarities of how they react to the world at large, and how it would reflect on their so-called personalities. Zumthor is famous for being a recluse. A genius hermit, they say he is [I never got around + deciphered the phrase actually, do they mean ‘a genius who happened to also be a hermit’ or ‘a genius in being a hermit’? Maybe both.] As for Lang, he’s known to ‘never been interested in the event when I’m the center of attention’, + would ‘rather have my work just be there’, autobiographically, + known to be ‘shy, reticient + mysterious’, according to others [who happens to be the famous sculptor + Lang’s close collaborator, Louise Bourgeois.] Zumthor lives in a village near Chur, in the border of Germany + Swiss: not necessarily the most convenient place to get to in order to know the man better or conducting an interview. On the other case, by not showing to the 2ooo Fashion Awards, Lang insulted a lot of fashion insiders [Anna Wintour on the incident: ‘If I had known he wasn’t coming, I would have called him. It was discourteous not to turn up’], but for the die-hard fans, they always come up as extremist martyrs. It gives the image of an uninterrupted artist working on his studio, tune-crafting their pieces, for us the consumers to devour. Time is no longer a wellguarded right + leisure is non-existent with these hard-working personas. They sacrifice their pleasurable moments not caring about parties, celebrities’ events, + other demanding festivities others see as a marketing tool. But is it fair to say that they don’t do any marketing at all? And does this reclusiveness hurt or make the men? ‘Image is all-important to the marketing side, because it is something you can control… not totally creative--it is also managerial’, said Giacorno Santucci, the managing director of

Helmut Lang for Prada. The hard-to-get image, in this sense, has paid off big time. In Zumthor’s case, it has finally shown some results. Although he projected some humbleness in receiving the Pritzker – ‘That a body of work as small as ours is recognized in the professional world makes us feel proud and should give much hope to young professionals that if they strive for quality in their work it might become visible without any special promotion’, he said in his infamous speech – he is still refusing to reprint his earlier catalogue of publications. By not making these books available to the demanding general public right after his big break, it could only make his persona more mysterious, utilizing further the fact that we have obsession towards things we cannot afford. Zumthor, as a consequence, increase in price [the latest news was that the used copy of Thinking Architecture, first edition, has worn USD 2,ooo as its price tag.] For Lang, on the other hand, it had rewarded him immensely from 1986, the first year he showed his own collection in Paris, until 2oo5, the year he left the brand-name. His decision to practice solely in the art world since then, will further demonstrate us the strength of a marketing strategy. Anti-advertisement advertising is working on the field of architecture and fashion, will it work also in art? Give the microphone to Banksy, please. Further, anti-advertisement as a promotion strategy is an aged worn-off oxymoronic idea. But maybe that is the only righteous option in this crisis-ridden financially-conscious age [proven that even the frivolous Pritzker judges could not escape this notion.] However we want to argue, we should not fail to see it as it is: a marketing scheme. An evolved, advanced form of it, maybe, but it still is a mere scheme. Seeing the method applied rigorously on Peter Zumthor, not only as a person but also as an architectural firm; as well on Helmut Lang, not only as a fashion-designer-cum-artist but also as a line-of-clothing+-accessories-cum-collectibles, form my reason on insisting to call them trademarks. It’s clear that they were born through a deliberate conscious action of branding. To call them otherwise, as a lot of people tend to do, is an oxymoron. Other argument would be that it is basically each of their idiosyncratic move, psychoanalyzing them as old-school European intellectuals for whom no alternatives worth pursuing. Replying this notion, I’m borrowing the words of the amazingly funny writer of ‘How to Become a Famous Architect’ blog, Conrad Newel, on there is no exit strategy: ‘good work + good promotion = fame + recognition.’ Regardless what route being taken, a good promotion will end up in recognition. Having the last two of the opening sentence explained, I rest my case over. For now.

Additional Notes For those Zumthor +/or Lang wannabes:


Find your ivory tower + live in it. Not to be taken literally, but consider anything difficult to reach as a plus. Marginal but grounded, comfortable spacious cave-like hideouts are the best. Example: the East Hampton Richard Gluckman-renovated farmhouse for Lang; a self-renovated light-bathed den-like concretegated structure in a village near Chur, Switzerland, for Zumthor.


Develop your own style so people can call it YOUR uniform. Example: Zumthor’s dark-toned somber tops + Lang’s ‘casual elegance’ [in reality it’s crew neck shirt with washed out denim, combined with newest black patent-leather shoes. Important: sockless.] Wear your own brand every possible chance.


Find simplicity in the essence of what you’re doing + flaunt it shamelessly. Be smart about it. Don’t be afraid if in the end of the day you found that you are useless. Even nothingness can be transformed into luxury these days. Example: PR agents for both men.


Be brave and say ‘no.’ Countless times to invitations, project proposals, collaboration offers, etc. Example: Lang’s fall out with Prada group + Zumthor’s infamous hardheadedness.


Give diplomatically vague answers. Be constant about it. Example: Lang, ‘My body of work in fashion will always stand on its own and will not go away—or it will go away—it doesn’t matter.’ Zumthor, ‘Dreaming becomes even easier, and maybe I can be happy to go on dreaming even stronger.’


Don’t ever read design/architecture/fashion/ style/whatnot magazines. By reading the sentence, it’s a fact that you’re still reading. A sad fact: you’ll never be on the same level as them. Accept it, + better still, flaunt it. Example: this article by yours truly.


Insist on having the last words. Example: ‘Good luck trying!’

This page: The essay in the 8 x 11 book

This and following pages: The joint exhibition atmosphere Following page: Original sketch Photos by Joseph Delappe

Iraqi Memorial Reno, San Jose, New York; USA 2008-2011 Competition & exhibition Client: Joseph Delappe Result: exhibited as one of the selected artists in a travelling exhibition series

How to make memorials of public affairs into a matter of subjective reflection? Could we personalize objectivity? What could serve as a metaphor for memory better than time itself?

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