Society problems

COVID-19 has raised awareness in Indonesian society for green architecture

The world we live in is in the process of recovering from one of the massive epidemics in human history: the coronavirus disease.

A decrease in the number of COVID-19 patients and an easing of travel restrictions has begun in several countries around the world, including Indonesia. In May 2022, the Indonesian government dropped the outdoor mask mandate as the pandemic was increasingly under control. Soon this pandemic will end and people will move on, but the question is, what will happen then? This question emerges from the fact that many aspects of life in Indonesia are affected by the pandemic itself, such as economy, business, politics, health, etc., with necessary adjustments in each. What about the architecture?

Geographically, Indonesia is an archipelago country extending the line of the equator with a tropical climate. The sun shines all year round, which means Indonesians tend to want to find a cool, comfortable place in the shade and do their daily activities. Obviously, malls are much more supportive than outdoor spaces such as public parks. With the complete closure of shopping malls that have spread across the country, Breeze BSD has become a favorite among its competitors, being Indonesia’s first open-air mall. The green concept of aMall without wallsmaterialized by the reduction of air conditioning, the optimization of natural lighting and the use of outdoor footbridges as a link between the built masses and the landscapes. Since it was completed in 2013 with an unsatisfied trend, it eventually became less popular and did not receive many visitors before the pandemic.

Because the virus was spread through physical contact and droplets, the Indonesian government imposed restrictions on limiting social distancing. People were more afraid of being in enclosed spaces – the risk of getting infected is very high in a crowded room. In more open spaces, air circulation is exchanged naturally, so air quality is automatically maintained. Therefore, people can feel safe spending time outdoors rather than indoors. As a result, people have adjusted their preferences from indoor to outdoor activities and what is more, they have turned to outdoors with bicycling, gardening, jogging, etc.

Today, The Breeze BSD has become one of the most sought-after destinations among residents of Jakarta and South Tangerang. Other aspects closely related to architecture also adapt. Property developers have begun to market a new concept of a commercial shophouse that offers outdoor space. For example, Melody Shophouses in BSD has a balcony and a terrace as outdoor space. In landscape architecture, many places around Jakarta, such as Mangrove Park Kapuk and San Antonio Promenade PIK, showcase their outdoor experiences.

T interior designers are also in high demand to create new social venues with outdoor space. Like previous ones, Tanah Atap Coffee Ampera Jakarta, Mimiti Coffee Bandung and Kastem Space Jogja were designed with a spacious outdoor area.

Humans are constantly adapting to their new environment and architecture, defined as a built environment to meet and support their needs. In the Stone Age, humans used caves or simple huts as refuge from wild animals; the Great Pyramid of Giza was designed as a tomb for Pharaoh Kufu to symbolize his wealth and power; the Colosseum was an amphitheater in the Roman Empire, used as a place of entertainment to watch gladiators; the Great Wall of China was built as a fortress to protect their territory and defend against invasions. These examples are all proof that architecture has evolved over time, adhered to and paralleled human civilization with its distinct characteristics. Thus, we can say that architecture and the human are interdependent and inseparable.

“Design is as much about finding problems as solving them.” –Bryan Lawson

An unavoidable global force majeure event affects the architecture in a specific way. The pandemic is not the first. In the early 1900s, tuberculosis was the leading cause of death. Victorian-era accommodations, with long curtains, small windows, intricate woodwork, and dust-gathering upholstered furniture, were typical of the era. Isolation was the key to prevention, therefore a sanatorium with an open rural environment was desirable rather than dusty conditions. This influenced the development of modern architecture, and famous architects such as Le Corbusier, Alvar Aalto, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe created a new form of architecture to prevent tuberculosis and solve other social problems. If we think in retrospect, difficult and crucial situations always force humans to use and optimize their intellectual side to find a way out, of which the architecture itself is one of the results. What is design if not problem solving?

There are progressions in Indonesian society’s preference to prioritize”comfort” at “healthiness”. COVID-19 has a catalytic role in raising awareness in Indonesian society on the importance of green and sustainable architecture. It is therefore very important for the development of architecture in Indonesia since other countries are already aware and put green and sustainability at the forefront.