Saturday, May 15, 2010

Modern Tropical House | Jakarta, Indonesia | Djuhara + Djuhara Architects

In the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, Ahmad Djuhara is on a one-man crusade to blow away the conservative cobwebs of the city’s dowdy suburban architecture.
Combine the eight and a half million people living in Jakarta, Indonesia’s humid capital, with those dwelling in its nearby satellite conurbations of Bogor, Tangerang, and Bekasi (together known by the portmanteau “Jabotabek”) and you’ve got a combined population that approaches 20 million. Amidst the largely planless urban sprawl, you’ll find gleaming modern skyscrapers jostling with mounting ruins of the city’s crumbling colonial heritage.
Bekasi, just down a highly accessible toll road, isn’t as densely packed as Jakarta proper, but with a population of more than two million, it’s hardly a garden suburb. Nonetheless, the prospect of a little more space, cheaper housing, and the work of architect Ahmad Djuhara got Nugroho Wisnu and his family thinking about a new home outside of town.
Wisnu and his wife, Tri Sundari, both come from Indonesia’s rather conservative Javanese culture; however, the couple, who both trained in the petroleum industry—Wisnu now works for BP and travels around the country—clearly have a sense of architectural adventure. And considering that the first house they bought in Bekasi proved better for insects than humans—it was uncomfortable, badly designed, and infested with termites—they thought it was time to shop around.
“We thought that an all-steel house like the one that Mr. Djuhara had built just down the road would be termite resistant,” Wisnu explains. “However, he proved difficult to pin down as he is a very busy man. We also feared that an in-demand architect would be prohibitively expensive.”
Djuhara + Djuhara, the firm Ahmad runs with his wife, Wendy, designed several high-profile bars and restaurants in central Jakarta, and as chair of the Jakarta chapter of the Indonesian Institute of Architects, Djuhara helped to modernize the city’s rather draconian planning regulations. His first attempt at a suburban house—the one that caught Wisnu’s eye—was startlingly original and cocked a snook at critics who claim that young Indonesian architects only work on luxury hotels.

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