Between the assignments that came along our way, there are ones that stirs our thought and starts us to get involved on a personal level. Usually when a story wants to be told, and we became just that: the story teller – but no, we’re architects on assignment – if that makes sense.
These projects seemed to have a life of their own projecting to papers and screens, with us as the storyteller. For us, of course sadly unrealised and unbuilt. But, we’re not ones to dwell, especially when it can be stored here – in a log – still able to tell their stories:
1. Bando Halim: this was supposed to be a landscape project taking place along the boulevard in Halim Perdanakusuma, Indonesia’s VIP Airport – the first boulevard in Jakarta that the world leaders would pass when they arrive in town, where they would be welcomed to a sight which will represent the ‘WELCOME TO INDONESIA’ however a designer might interpret the experience. The client with the vision was the then Halim Airbase Commander, who wanted this proposal raised to the local government. At that time I had just read the book on Atlantis by Prof Arysio Nunes dos Santos, was intrigued by the theory – since we had just experienced a major tsunami. I had this strong conviction that we are here in a place of paradise on earth, where balance between prosperity and calamity is eternal, where there was once civilization of great influence, and is once again on the rise where we have the choice of being people in a cocoon of blissful self subsistence or of being people with roles to play in the world’s advancement. That’s where the story lies and that’s what moved the project to its shape. Designing the experience of arrival, framing the movement in a series of forms that tells the story of a journey of the place, from the past towards the future. And here goes…..
Oh, and it goes both ways too – it also serves as the point of saying ‘farewell and godspeed’……you’ve got to be there to experience it.
2. Integrated Lab – FMIPA UI (Faculty of Mathematics & Sciences): By then we had done a few UI projects – a building here, fitout there, renovation here, white paper there – and this assignment was actually a closed competition between 4 other firms. This was a continuation of a white paper we did for FMIPA UI (in which they received a grant to start up their integrated lab building projects and this was the first phase in the form of a design competition). And a thought kept prodding at the back of my patriotic mind. This is a continuation from number 1 – a nation on the rise, sitting on paradise, and the riches is not only the precious metals, or the oils and gases, but in its biodiversity. And this building will be for the scholars right at the centre of it – harnessing their knowledge for mankind’s future in paradise on earth – always the romantic and the dramatic….And right at work I go about how to tell the story of this building in serving the purpose, how it wants to look, integrate and frame its surrounding woods, and the rest…let’s just say that the story is not sold.
But I was sold on another story about the concept of the local wisdom for ecological conservation : ‘Daerah Larangan’…another story to be told by architecture. But then, architecture becomes a paradox, if ever there was a dilemma: to build or not to build….I’m sure this is not the end of the story…
3. UI Faculty Club : When a competition takes place in a location that you do not agree on, that calls on your conscience to have a say in the matter, the answer could be then is to not build. Or is it? Do we face the challenge by designing a building that is a lesser burden to the site? This competition actually occurs about a year before no 2, a time before I could place a term to my disagreement (which by now I know as ‘Daerah Larangan’ – strictly my opinion of course). I chose to face the challenge, as an opportunity to tell the story of the site and its newly injected program, and how the building wants to touch as lightly as possible on the ground it treads.
I know now that it’s possible…still, we’re only talking about the burden of the form – we haven’t even touched the burden from an operational building, which would be another engineering challenge…