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Jimmy Priatman: Synergy with Energy

The works of Jimmy Priatman and his team at Archimetric, which he founded in 1988 with partners, can be easily found throughout Surabaya. The firm is known for its sustainable and energy-conscious designs, some of which have been honoured with ASEAN Energy Awards. In this article, the respected architect tells Indonesia Design how he sees the city and what he wants to achieve through his designs.

Photo by Archimetric Doc.

How did you get into architecture?

Becoming an architect has been my ambition since I was in junior high school. After graduating from senior high school, I immediately enrolled in architecture to start my formal education as the first step towards fulfilling my ambition. It all began from my amazement in seeing the beauty of buildings and private residences that are done aesthetically using good architectural design.

What was your first project?

I designed a private house in Surabaya for my uncle and his family of three children.

Which project has been the most memorable?

Each opportunity is always followed by a set of challenges that is naturally different from those posed by the next one. Managing these challenges, each with its own joy and sorrows, is an interesting journey. It is also a process of becoming more mature with the passing of time.

The most memorable building project was when I handled the planning for an office building that was then known as Graha Pangeran. During the conception stage, the building site was located in an area where no other tall buildings were present and traffic was very hectic. We encountered several challenges that needed meticulous and exact solutions. With the utmost patience and struggle–and coupled with the optimistic spirit from the building’s owner–the 15-storey building was finally completed before the 1998 Financial Crisis crippled the national property sector. This project ended up winning an award as ASEAN’s Energy Efficient Building and was also presented with the National Architecture Technology Award.

What do you think about the development of design in Surabaya?

As the country’s second city after Jakarta, Surabaya has the potential to become a stage to display architectural works, from modest houses to flashy commercial buildings. This is seen especially in the building of mall-hotel-apartment-office blocks designed by foreign architects. This condition obviously has become a stimulus for local architects to present their best works.

Yet Surabaya is still different from Jakarta, especially in terms of its people’s cultural character, which is more homogenous, spontaneous and open. The success of presenting an architectural work in a place requires an interaction with the users of architecture in the area by understanding and acknowledging their character.

Why open a firm in Surabaya?

Surabaya is where I was born. Since I was young, this city has been my roots and the place where I developed my career as a professional architect. Here I can both work as a professional architect and still be involved in the academic world of architecture, as well as in other fields that directly connect to architecture, such as structural, mechanical and electrical engineering. The academic world has also enabled me to interact more with young architects and become part of their creative energy. My experience of living for a few years in Chicago, which is the third largest city in the US, has convinced me that wherever we choose to stay, there is always a chance for us to present meaningful architectural work.

What’s the most interesting aspect of Surabaya?

Maintaining a good quality of life has become one of the most important determining factors to stay and develop my career in Surabaya. At least here I will not be trapped in hours of traffic, like in Jakarta. Yet I can get the same metropolitan facilities that are available in the capital–not to mention the lower cost of living and good economic growth here. These are the appealing factors of Surabaya that compel me to stay. It is similar to Melbourne or Seattle, which are not the major cities of their respective countries, but are still comfortable enough to live and work in.

What are your hopes for Surabaya?

I hope that the city will become a smart city in the future by pushing forward on smart infrastructure, smart transportation, smart parking, and smart buildings to guarantee a better quality of life for its residents.

Jimmy Priatman

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