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Green Architecture: From Communities to Better Cities

Architect Sigit Kusumawijaya is best known for his green design architecture; he is connected with many design-related communities such as Belajar Desain, Indonesia Berkebun and Atap Jakarta, he also frequently lectures at the Architecture Department of Universitas Indonesia (UI). His efforts in working for the greater good led him to be one of “Indonesian Inspiring Youth” nominees at Satu Indonesia Awards 2011, initiated by Astra Indonesia.

Photo by Sigit Kusumawijaya Doc.

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How did you start focusing on green design?

I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture from UI, and a Master of Science Degree in Urbanism from TU Delft. From here, I gained the design basics, as well as learning how to make impactful designs. I have worked for andramatin Architects, PT MRT Jakarta, T.R. Hamzah & Yeang Sdn. Bhd. (Malaysia) and Mei Architecten & Stedenbouwers BV. (the Netherlands) from which I got a chance to do inspiring and visionary projects, which I continued to do when I established my own bureau sigit.kusumawijaya | architect & urbandesigner in 2007

I believe that the architecture has to be able to breathe. It would affect many things, as it will have better natural lighting distribution, and it will give a healthier environment for the client, and so on. But as I co-founded Indonesia Berkebun, I have another concern to plan, not only for the aesthetics, but also for the greater good for the environment. Lately, my most recent projects even demanded something more – the clients didn’t do gardening as a hobby, but were concerned about self-sufficiency for food.

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Please tell us more about the communities you are working with.

It started with Belajar Desain, a design-learning community that is open for design enthusiasts – from students, artists, young designers to professionals. I initiated this community because when I was an architecture student, design was considered as a “heavy” thing. Doing the design is indeed not easy, but I want to let people know that it is doable. However, design plays a major part in our life, from the house we dwell in, to the city we live in. Belajar Desain acts as a forum where people can gather to explore design and see how it is built.

Then there is Atap Jakarta – House Vision Indonesia, where I sit as an executive Steering Committee member. This organisation conducts activities, such as exhibitions and lectures, and highlights future housing in Jakarta. A couple of years ago, some friends and I were concerned about food availability in Indonesia. Thoughts about how Indonesia, as a country of land and agriculture still has to import food, even primary food such as rice, is really disturbing. Hence now-Bandung major Ridwan Kamil initiated Indonesia Berkebun. As a co-founder and as an Urbanism-graduate, I believe that urban farming can be one of the solutions to these concerns, especially to make use of left over land, and ultimately for national food security.

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What makes Indonesia Berkebun important?

This community aims to spread positive spirit to be more concerned with the environment and urban development through urban farming programs. At first, we utilised idle land of private institutions in urban areas and converted them into productive agricultural land or plantations. And since its members have a vision to strengthen food security, many of them have started to build their own farms at home. This strengthens the community as the movement now involves big private institutions, as well as small family initiatives.

This urban farming community, which has spread the word to city dwellers to be more concerned about the environment, achieved Goggle Awards 2011 “Web-Heroes”, Google Asia Pacific.

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Has it affected your vision and approach in design?

From the beginning, my firm sigit.kusumawijaya | architect & urbandesigner put our energy into locality, ecology, sustainability and green design issues. Now we’re trying to make green living more a part of daily life by blending food sufficiency and sustainability issues into our living spaces. That may encourage the neighbourhood to do the same. When more people in the urban area make this as a part of their life, we can improved urban living.

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