The Unit, Block, Kampung

The kampung ties the studio back to the scale of the entire city and gives us the true measure and character of the place. The kampung consists at present of a combination of blocks of different sizes, populations and densities. The goal is to double the overall density of the Kampung in order to free some space given to the Ciliwung river. How do the different blocks combine to define a clear urban edge towards the river at the scale of the whole neighbourhood? The Kampung Melayu could become the first neighbourhood to propose the river as a landscape for the city – a landscape that can create much higher value and quality of living for its inhabitants while still being allowed to flood. The design scale of the Kampung ranges from the human dimension defined by the block to the scale of the entire neighbourhood. Students will propose a landscape strategy at the kampung scale integrating elements of local block design into a coherent urban whole. The perimeter defined by the Kampung should allow students to respond to greater urban connections and to make a clear landscape design that responds to the architectural choices that have been developed. Students will ascertain the scale of the site by assessing various edge conditions that reveal a variety of landscape elements in relation to the river. A critical assessment of these edges will lead to a better understanding of the site and its possible future orientations and potential. What are their qualities, permeability (visual and physical), and degree of resistance to flooding and water dynamics? By means of significant modifications along the river corridor, some edges will have the potential of being reconfigured to bring radical changes. The goal of this studio is to fundamentally change the way the river landscape is perceived and experienced by its inhabitants. Working at the scale of the entire Kampung will raise issues of materials, construction, separation and recycling. To do so it will need to define the kind of landscape space that needs to be developed in relation to the city. The kampung study will require several urban and topological guidelines following:Landscape: the river as park, Blocks, public buildings and space; Differentiated edge conditions, Connections, recycling and services


The Block

The condition of the kampung in response to the river edge is defined by the kampong block, which itself consists of a combination and assemblage of many individual units. Each block represents roughly one hectare of surface area that could house up to 500 units instead of the 250 units currently in use. This is the scale at which students must master the systemic organization of the city, whether for rainwater collection and storage as for water treatment and garbage. Each student team will be asked to reflect on the kampung block as a key to environmental sanitation and sustainability. The place and role given to the river at the scale of the block will be of critical importance in applying and consolidating these remedial measures over time. The understanding of local terrain in terms of water and topography will in turn inform the design of the block. This is first and foremost an exercise in the modulation of architecture principles and site planning, through the understanding of terrain, water and vegetation. Community gardens and ponds (wadoks) will be linked to specific blocks, depending on the location and the quality of the terrain. In order to work on new block typologies for the Kampung, students will need to transform the existing footprint depending on the conditions and location. There will also be the question of levels and circulation patterns to solve. The block will take into consideration both the adaptation of innovative architectural solutions and prototypes with the given cultural and “natural” situation of the river with its unpredictable temperament. In turn the block will also need to respond to its specific urban location in terms of services, continuities and connections. The block study will require architectonic and topological guidelines following:

Landscape: topology, the river system and its vegetation; Building densities and typologies; Rainwater collection, wadoks and communal gardens; Infrastructure: transport, recycling and services.


The Unit

The kampung at present is structured in terms of roughly 250 living units per hectare. Can the footprint of the kampung unit dwelling be further developed to attain a higher density or must it be fundamentally transformed? What is the minimal unit size, and how can it be combined into larger units? Part of the tectonic constraints of the unit will in fact be dictated by the river landscape and its varying flood levels. Students will be asked to consider three unit conditions: normal flooding, high flooding and extreme flooding. Depending on the location and level under study, the approach to designing each unit may change. The goal of unit design is to find a means of integrating the flood as a natural phenomenon within the city fabric. The unit will also inform strategies to improve the adjacent landscape, to adapt it and make it evolve into a new and productive environmental paradigm. Different unit scenarios and typologies will emerge from studio depending on their specific location and the way dynamic forces such as water, vegetation and location are worked-through together and interact with each other. The unit design will require several tectonic and topological guidelines following:

Landscape: topography, water and gardens; Dwelling density, tectonics and typology; Common spaces and connections; Collection, sanitation and services.


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.