Friday, October 2, 2020

Topping off The “Forest” at Polman Astra Polytechnic by budipradono architects a+u

The “Forest” at Polman Astra Polytechnic

In late 2018, budipradono architects a+u (Studio bpa) won first prize in the competition to design Astra Polytechnic in Cikarang. The construction of the first stage (48,000 m2) started in January 2019, and is scheduled to be finished in February 2021. In September 2020, this campus project entered the topping off stage of the highest dormitory building.


Cikarang Goes Green

The Astra Polytechnic campus is located in the heart of the industrial area of Cikarang. Studio BPA was presented with the challenge of designing a campus that would fit in with the surrounding community, yet embrace nature and promote environmental sustainability. Their design rose to the occasion, and the “FOREST” concept was born. The concept seamlessly intertwines the towering buildings surrounding the campus (which symbolize the “trees” of the “forest”) with the environmental initiatives of the college to create a stunning example of a green space.

The campus has many innovative ways to incorporate nature with architecture, such as planting perennials on the rooftops of buildings. In an effort to reduce carbon emissions, the campus has numerous walkways and is fully accessible by bicycle. The buildings are designed as efficiently as possible, with energy usage that is optimized to have minimal environmental consequences.

The design of this “forest” is based on the concept of sustainable urbanism, which consists of six main aspects: (1) sustainable development, (2) compactness, (3) biophilia, (4) the sustainable corridor, (5) high-performance building and (6) high-performance infrastructure.


Sustainable Development

Similar to Central Park in New York City, the campus provides an escape from an otherwise urban setting. In addition to the natural elements of the buildings themselves, the campus is home to a nursery program which will plant trees throughout Cikarang. Sustainability is crucial to the success of the students of Astra Polytechnic, and the benefits of a healthy environment can have a positive impact on the area for years to come. If Cikarang has a healthy environment, more people will be drawn to the area to attend school at Astra Polytechnic. By developing programs to promote environmental sustainability, the campus positions itself as a leader in the community and is prepared for success now and in the future.



The second aspect of sustainable urbanism is compactness. This involves developing buildings that use space wisely, so as to reduce the overall land usage per capita. Other buildings throughout Cikarang follow this principle, and the Astra Polytechnic campus is no different. When buildings are optimized to take up less space, yet are just as functional as a larger space, there can be significant cost savings as well as environmental benefits. The Astra Polytechnic campus is able to maximize its green space as a result of following the compactness principle.



The third aspect of sustainable urbanism is biophilia, which focuses on improving the relationship between humans and nature. The campus buildings are designed to have a special relationship with plants, allowing them to grow in areas they typically would not be able to, like rooftops. As areas become more industrialized and populated, it is crucial to find new ways to preserve the natural features of the environment. The Astra Polytechnic design fully embraces this concept by providing numerous opportunities for plants and trees to thrive throughout the campus.


Sustainable Corridor

The fourth aspect of sustainable urbanism is the sustainable corridor. The entire 5 ha area of the Astra Polytechnic campus is equipped with shelters to accommodate pedestrians that are walking or cycling across. This space is specifically designed to reduce dependency on cars by promoting alternative modes of transportation. By making the campus so easily accessible by bicycle or on foot, the designers help foster environmentally friendly habits for campus visitors.


High-Performance Building

The fifth aspect of sustainable urbanism is high-performance building. For example, efficient energy use, air quality improvements in plants, pollution reduction, and recycled materials are all elements of an efficient, productive design. The Astra Polytechnic campus is proof that architecture can be modern, effective, and sustainable. Through careful planning, the architects have chosen construction materials and design techniques that will last for years, without any unnecessary burden on the environment.


High-Performance Infrastructure

The sixth aspect of sustainable urbanism is high-performance infrastructure. This involves the creation of a greener and more comfortable streetscape by utilizing natural resources. By harnessing the power of the environment around us, systems can actually become more efficient, and less waste is created as a result. Examples of high-performance infrastructure at Astra Polytechnic include rainwater absorption and distribution technology.


Architectural Concepts


Dormitory Features


Public spaces

The dormitory is a 9-storey building with a lot to offer to the campus community. The building is equipped with VIP guest rooms, a hall, dining hall, study room, laundry facilities, and several student meeting areas. Located between the dormitory towers, the green public space becomes the central park that connects the two buildings. Providing communal sitting areas and several landscaping elements, the park is also ideal for outdoor exhibition activities and community events that can be enjoyed by all visitors.


Study rooms

Unlike the typical layout of a study room, which tends to be centered in one space, these dormitory study rooms are distributed over several floors and integrated with the dormitory unit. This strategy achieves a distributed and effective medium for discussion and learning activities. The study rooms are harmoniously arranged within the building configuration, and their presence is highlighted through a well-designed perforated metal façade.


Green balcony

To emphasize the “FOREST” concept, trees are strategically placed on the balcony so that visitors can feel the existence of nature around them. The green balcony also plays a role in improving the overall environmental quality of the area, and maintaining the temperature stability of the building.


Versatile materials

Dormitory units are arranged on a modular basis using drywall material that is both easy to install and durable, which increases the speed of the building construction. In addition, drywall can be combined with additional features, such as water and fire resistant layers for enhanced safety measures in the event of a fire evacuation.


Hall as connector

The hall is located on the ground floor, connecting the two dormitory towers. It serves not only as a connector between two buildings, but also as a meeting place for teachers, Astra Polytechnic staff and directors, students, parents, and visitors from other institutions.


Natural lighting

In response to the tropical climate of the area, where sunlight is abundant, the dormitory building is equipped with strategically placed skylights. The use of skylights not only enriches the overall aesthetic and atmosphere of the building, but it also reduces energy usage.


Natural air circulation

Natural air circulation in the dormitory is optimized by the open-plan corridor on each floor. Equipped with vegetation, the resulting air circulation can be freed from pollutants. Natural preservation is also manifested in the dining hall area with a ventilation grille on the roof so that cold air from above can enter and reduce the heat of the room.


Auditorium Features 



The auditorium building is the centerpiece of the Astra Polytechnic campus. Located near the main entrance, the building provides a monumental and impressive introduction to the campus. Like other buildings on campus, the auditorium is home to many plant species, which is a stark contrast to the arid industrial environment surrounding Cikarang. The building was designed to maintain as many existing trees around the site as possible.



Water is the source of life for all living things, including plants. In other words, water is the center. The reflecting pond in front of the auditorium building is a symbol of clarity of thinking, and represents the source of life for the education center of Cikarang. Users of the auditorium must cross the reflecting pond to enter the building. The reflecting pond offers a spatial experience for users and serves as a buffer, distancing the auditorium from the motorway to reduce noise.


Ellipse form

The ellipse form is the unifying language of the building design. As the center of Astra Polytechnic, the auditorium has an ellipse shape.


Flexible space

The auditorium can be used for events conducted by Astra Polytechnic itself, or it can be rented as a wedding hall. The auditorium provides a spacious hall on the ground floor and balcony seats above.


Office Space Features


Office facilities

The office building is designed to accommodate a wide range of facilities, including a mosque, offices, retail, a central library, and student organizations. The office building and facilities maintain a green architecture building approach, application of zoning configuration according to its function, and interpretation of the technological progress in the building.


Green architecture

Application of the green architecture strategy includes a garden roof and a façade that allows wind to circulate into the building. This building also includes a garden balcony that serves as a communal area for campus administrative employees.


Main Green Campus


Organic, yet organized

The structured system of the campus has a form that stimulates the feeling of connection to living matter. The four faculties - manufacture, automotive, civil and information systems - are educational facilities of a very "technical" discipline. These faculties are very closely related to efficiency in daily operations. It requires the existence of a system that regulates the relationship between spaces, where each space is very specific to its function for a particular micro task in a macro structure or organization.

However, according to Charles Duhigg in his book "The Power of Habit", it is said that humans can’t advance themselves if they continue to follow the same routine. In each stage of a program, checkpoints are needed to stimulate users. Therefore, instead of putting together a highly traced, monotonous, and boring faculty program, why not provide a faculty building that is structured efficiently by function as well as wrapped in an unusual arrangement by borrowing natural elements that are beautiful and stimulating. The building mass is strung over modular cubes and sun-shading fins which are arranged to resemble a mountain – a very prominent element of nature, symbolizing a noble educational medium.



This campus area needs to be organized or consolidated so that its composition becomes compact and efficient. The preparation of the program is classified into three major parts: manufacture, automotive and civil. The arrangement has several parameters:

1)       Start with the open parameters and get more enclosed as we reach the top of the building.

2)       Use a lightweight program, with programs that use heavy equipment on the bottom.

While the laboratory area is on the second level and the classrooms are at the top, the automotive department is placed on the south side of the building, intended to make it easier for students to practice in the workshop.

Meanwhile, the information systems faculty is combined with two other new study programs into three groups. The three buildings for these groups are united by a continuous path and surrounded with trees to provide shade. Each room, including a workshop area, has a different view of the park as well as the trees on the perimeter of the site.

With the creation of this natural nuance, the souls of the lecturers and students are expected to be purified after their activities in this "engineered" building.


The experience of different and innovative spaces becomes an additional value that supports the continuity of teaching and learning activities of Astra Polytechnic's academic community. In contrast to the traditional design of industrial buildings, this campus embraces the challenge of re-greening Cikarang. As a result, the Astra Polytechnic campus provides tremendous value not only to its students, but to the entire community as a whole. The campus design is a model example of how innovation and creativity can come together to create dramatic environmental change.

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