Photos by Bagus Tri Laksono
Many people refer to ’the bird’s nest’ as the bird’s house, while it is actually only used for laying and incubating their eggs and raising their young ones. This fact is not lost on Jumaldi Alfi, an Indonesian artist who turned his studio into the established SaRanG Building: a ‘nest’ for artists.
Yogyakarta is widely known as ‘the Indonesian city of students’, but the city holds more than just educational institutions. Yogyakarta is rich in culture, from being the home of Kasultanan Ngayogyakarta (the sultan’s palace) to ancient temples like Candi Prambanan and Borobudur. It is also rich in art — the city is home to a bevy of artists and art spaces. SaRanG Building is one that stands out.
Black-painted steel, glass and red bricks dominate the building’s façade, giving it an intense industrial look. The cold front is nuanced by the lush trees surrounding the building. Aside from serving its main function as the artist’s residency, this edifice also keeps several utilitarian-designed rooms for the artist’s activities.
The stairs at the entrance lead visitors to the exhibition hall that has a vaulted ceiling for a spacious feeling. The wide glass windows on its two sides frame the landscape of the area. The hall is completed with an advanced lighting system to give exposure to the artworks during exhibitions. The room has access to the balcony that is fully made of steel, where exhibitors usually hang out with their guests.
Thanks to the minimal steel width framing the windows, the balcony makes a good vantage point from which the corridor and the ground floor are visible. Though indisputably industrial, the balcony manages to harmoniously merge with its surroundings; aerial roots of Banyan trees hang down all around it rather effortlessly.
Another element that nuances the industrial look is a traditional pendopo (a large pavilion-like structure built on columns) at the backyard. People need to walk pass the trees to arrive at the artists’ favourite hangout place. Usually, pavilions of this kind is located at the front part of the plan and functions as the entrance and the salon. However, in this case, it’s tucked away all the way at the back, sitting beside a tranquil fishpond, instantly becoming an intimate spot to unwind.
Steps away from this zen-like pendopo is a joint-studio and an adjoining library/office. At daytime, the square-shaped working area enjoys plenty of natural light whereas at night, the warm and cool white lighting fixtures are sufficient to keep the room looking natural.
Common areas aside, SaRanG has three residency units, each includes a bedroom, a pantry, an open bathroom and a terrace that faces the back area. The building has a U-shaped plan to allow all rooms to visually enjoy the landscape of the existing backyard. The layout also gives the impression of safety and warmth, much like what a bird’s nest offers.
In this nest, artists are welcome to brainstorm and explore their projects, incubate their ideas and prepare their (artistic) offspring for the real world. After developing their projects, artists would spread their ideas out to the audience by means of displaying their artworks in the beautiful nest that is SaRanG Building. No wonder even the most well travelled local and international artists love coming back to SaRanG.
This article was originally published in Indonesia Design’s 70th edition themed “Yogyakarta” published in 2015.