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Visionary Future LAB was started by Jakarta based research architect Budi Pradono as a forum in which to investigate emerging design in product, interior and architecture & urbanism
Tropical architecture lies beyond its climatic and regional concerns. This confronts the spread of a homogenous globalism which can also be called international style. Tropical architecture is always associated with a locally and environmentally sensitive approach.
Countries in the tropical belt have seen before growth in the last 70 years and are poised to escalate in terms of economic, technological and material development. Briefly, modern tropical architecture has been adapted from modern trends in design and construction to climate, where it is necessary to note the changes in the lifestyle that the tropical climate affords. What appears often is the exploration of open and semi-open spaces, balconies, verandah, and open plan.
The challenge to define a modern idiom for tropical architecture is not just a climatic issue but also related to the problem of adapting to the modern lifestyle, of transformation of local cultures to the modern city.
The research on tropical architecture is based on the movement of modernism in Europe and the US. The modern architecture movement was led by several master architects such as Le Corbusier, Oscar Niemeyer and Alvar Aalto who believed that Modernism in architecture ought not to be transplanted globally without some recognition of its context where emphasized the importance of understanding the region, climate and social context. At the moment there is a transplanted from temperate countries, particularly the US - in justification by the name of International Style.
This situation was criticized by many architectural schools and environmentalist writings such as Aladar Olgyay (1963) and Victor Olgyay (1952), Maxwell Fry (1956) and Jane Drew (1964) as well as by modernist architects who showed with such works Paul Rudolf and Richard Neutra (US), Frederich Silaban, YB Mangunwijaya, and Han Awal (Indonesia).
In the current era where the advancement of innovation and digital technology has changed the social order in the contemporary architectural community is defined as the latest architecture that accommodates the needs of the current community lifestyle. So the contemporary tropical architecture shows the geographical location of the tropics therefore some of the things below will explain more detail about the Nusantara architecture, Dutch colonial architecture in Jakarta, green architecture, and the influence of smartphone technology that changed the pattern of tropical space in the cities in Indonesia.
NUSANTARA ARCHITECTURE AND ITS RELATIONSHIP WITH NATURE
Indonesia comprising thousands of islands, has many vernacular architecture on each of these islands. “Nusantara” is an Indonesian word for the Indonesian archipelago, coming from “Nusa” and “Antara” and meaning “a unity between islands and its seas” (Prijotomo, 1988). Nusantara architecture is non-separated from nature; therefore, its materials come from nature, namely organic materials such as tree bark, wood, roots and leaves. The material adjusted based on natural condition. For example, rumah panggung or house on stilts is commonly in the region. Similarly, in Korowai, Papua, the tree house is common. This architecture is merged with nature, with breathable walls usually made of woven bamboo or from the arrangement of bebak (palm tree leaves). The traditional societies of these regions hold ceremonies when they cut the trees or harvest other natural materials for use as building materials. The ceremony is a symbol that the local people really appreciate God's creation such as trees so that cutting down trees is not as an economic commodity such as modern society but for the needs of the community creating Nusantara architecture to shelter.
This relationship between architecture and nature is different from that of the architecture in four-season countries. Extreme weather difference in non-tropical climates mean that their architecture tends to have rigid boundaries with nature; the architecture functions like a fortress, protecting the people inside from the cold or the heat.
THE GARDEN CITY OF MENTENG
In 1909, Dutch East Indies architects tried to implement the garden city concept in Menteng, Jakarta, in early 20th-century Batavia. Garden City was a middle-class, residential area in Batavia. This urban planning movement attempted to transform Indonesia’s traditional architecture into a more modern form using materials used in the Netherlands, such as brick. Garden City houses were surrounded by large gardens and tall trees. To address the heat, the houses were built with high ceilings and spacious terraces. The architecture incorporated nature as a cosmetic complement; residents could sit on the terrace and enjoy the nature around it. It also benefited from nature in a practical function, as most of the houses had fruit trees to provide food. Many of these buildings incorporated a terrace, as well as large gardens in front of and behind the building, as media to connect with nature. Others, called courtyard houses, incorporated a garden in the middle of the building, which served to cool the house by creating air flow into the building. The use of plants in this architectural style may be categorized as fence, marker, canopy and decorative element. During this period, the relationship between architecture and nature was only partly for the beautification of the house.
1970s ECONOMY BOOM AND THE INTRODUCTION OF MODERN ARCHITECTURE
An economy boom in 1970s Indonesia brought some first-generation, newly-graduated architects from the Netherlands and Germany, including Han Awal and Suwondo, who attempted to introduce tropical architecture in Indonesia. Han Awal designed houses with atriums or backyards and more spacious bathrooms incorporating plant life. In this era, as the state enjoyed the financial boon of increased exports of crude oil and other mining materials, development in major cities in Indonesia increased. Deforestation was unrestrained, even in areas such as Borneo Island, known for its forest land, and the wood was exported for profit. Nature was viewed as a commodity and an unimportant material, as it was only used as a decorative addition to architecture.
This development took place in every corner of cities in Indonesia, despite the small number of young architects responsible for it. This era of exploitation and usage of nature diminished the relationship between architecture and nature.
NATURE AND INTERIOR ARCHITECTURE
There are several reasons to incorporate nature in interior architecture. Nature may be part of home decoration, such as potted plants. Plant life may serve to cool the house, which is achieved by creating a canopy frame for plants, so they can grow in above of the terrace, and the inside of the building will become cooler. Plants may also be placed between rooms such as patio or atrium to serve as connectors between different rooms. Plants placed inside the house may indicate that the owner has a psychological desire for closeness to nature, sometimes to the point—particularly in the case of elderly homeowners—where the plants serve as companionship, sometimes even giving the owners a reason to live. Building interiors which incorporate nature have a specific character and generally incorporate sunlight, as well, via architectural features such as atriums. Otherwise, such buildings must use artificial lighting as a replacement for sunlight.
Examining R-House, as a case study, we see a house with a cohabitation theme. This house has a special relationship with nature, both indoors and outdoors. As the owner of the house has a hobby related to water, water has been used as an element of design, flowing in from the outside and filling almost every corner of the room it flows into. Plants on the flat roof penetrate into the house, becoming a non-separated part of the interior of the house.