The Kampung and the Plastic River
ETH Design Research Studio on the Cali Ciliwung in Jakarta. The Design Research Studio on the Ciliwung River in Jakarta is part of the ETH Future Cities Laboratory in Singapore and will involve architecture students for one semester on one of the most challenging sites in Jakarta: the Kampung Melayu. During the course of the semester one workshop will be taught in March jointly with NUS, UI and IPB students in Jakarta and Singapore. The operational framework and methodology of the studio will involve landscape, architecture as well as urban design thinking and will follow the precepts of a site-specific topological approach. Emphasis of the design work will be on the role of landscape and dwelling structures as they interact with the adjacent river in the flood prone neighbourhoods of Kampung Melayu and Bukit Duri in Jakarta. Can the widening of the Ciliwung river corridor become an incentive to doubling the population density in the remainder of the kampong? This would avoid the problem of population displacement, but would require a clear strategy in terms of landscape and architecture. The studio will operate at three distinct scales, the scale of the unit, the scale of the urban block and the scale of the kampung. Students will be asked to develop prototypes on given cross sections of the river to be widened. This will enable advanced design experimentation and transformation of the sections under study. The goal of this studio, with the help of design tools is to develop methodologies capable of dealing with the physical and spatial complexity of this highly urbanized “natural” environment. The underlying thesis is that landscape and architecture can be worked-out together, to bring forth solutions that can help restore the quality and purpose of the river within its degraded context while allowing for higher living densities. With a healthy dose of heuristic terrain analysis, prospection and design vision, students will be asked to develop a new positive foothold on the landscape and architectural challenges posed by the Ciliwung River. The studio results will serve as example towards a new combined approach to urban landscape and architecture in Southeast Asian cities. The goal is to set some clear topological rules that can help define generative principles for both landscape and architecture as a way of restructuring urban river profiles in response to flooding, overcrowding and insalubrious conditions. The studio will result in a set of comprehensive architectural and landscape design proposals that will serve towards the melioration of rivers in Jakarta.
The studio will begin in reverse scale, moving from the object scale of the unit, through the scale of the block, to the scale of the entire kampung. In doing so, degrees of precision with terrain at each scale will change as well as the direct topological relationship to the river dynamics. The goal of this studio is indeed, to give more room to the river for flooding purposes, and to double the density of the present kampung to 500 units per hectare to limit in part population displacement. Three key issues will be incorporated at each scale: that of rain water collection and storage, that of grey and black water treatment, and that of garbage collection and recycling. These key issues should enable the river to recover some of its cleanliness, dignity and identity for the ecological benefit of all.