formal-informal dna

2012
Holcim Awards 2014 Asia Pacific – Next Generation 4th Prize

program: Urban network upgrading
location: Tangerang, Banten, Indonesia

As land is increasingly contested and capitalised, one approach used by developers is to dangle monetary carrots, incentive for urban informal dwellers to relocate. However, precedence tells that relocation not only prompts the dissolution of community, but often leads to dwellers moving far from their workplaces. The project adopts one such real-life situation, and attempts to build the residents’ social and economic defences, better enabling them to resist possibly detrimental financial baits.

Progress: Local materials form the elements of proposed new housing: concrete blocks, rattan weaving, hardwood timber. The assembly of these materials into tension-post extensions, atop rigid bases, represents new technology, allows for self-help, and supports the cultivation of land. At a macro scale, the ubiquity of arable plots around other kampungs suggest untapped resources, and makes this project a scalable proposition.

People: A new mode of life and work surrounding smallholding provides suitable employment for women, disillusioned with regimented, corporate factory jobs. This new lifestyle is neither like the rural existence many dwellers had emigrated from, nor alienating like “modern” factories. It ensures women are meaningfully employed, while applying and improving their existing agricultural skills. The enrichment and occupation will enable them to scale social hierarchies, while the loose nature of work still allows them to meet domestic obligations.

Planet: Land around the kampung is arable, but not fully utilized. By resettling households across the site, kinship groups can take ownership working the land and maximize this resource. The earth bunds will not only keep houses above the flood plain, but transport clean water, electricity, and carry away wastewater. This infrastructure toolbox improves sanitation, the quality of life, and reduces pollution of the adjacent Cisadane River.

Prosperity: The crops from smallholding will form a new income source, while the use of local skills, labor and materials keep money within the kampung. Additionally, new construction systems will also be an exportable, cash-creating technology. The investment in incremental housing and infrastructure draws from the existence of social self-help organizations known as “Dawis”, women groups with social funds, dispensable as loans – not dissimilar to microfinance.

Place: The new village fabric indexes traditional parcel patterns, and is true to the street quality of existing kampungs. The architecture is climatically sensitive, protecting from harsh sunlight and rain, while allowing for ample natural ventilation. The establishment of kinship groups calls into effect the “gotong royong”, or mutual and reciprocal assistance, deeply embedded in Indonesian psychology.