A Model of Indonesian City Structure

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A Model of Indonesian City Structure Larry R. Ford Geographical Review, Vol. 83, No. 4. (Oct., 1993), pp. 374-396. Stable URL: http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0016-7428%28199310%2983%3A4%3C374%3AAMOICS%3E2.0.CO%3B2-M Geographical Review is currently published by American Geographical Society. Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at http://www.jstor.org/about/terms.html. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at http://www.jstor.org/journals/ags.html. Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. The JSTOR Archive is a trusted digital repository providing for long-term preservation and access to leading academic journals and scholarly literature from around the world. The Archive is supported by libraries, scholarly societies, publishers, and foundations. It is an initiative of JSTOR, a not-for-profit organization with a mission to help the scholarly community take advantage of advances in technology. For more information regarding JSTOR, please contact [email protected]. http://www.jstor.org Tue Aug 28 16:07:30 2007

Transcript of A Model of Indonesian City Structure

Page 1: A Model of Indonesian City Structure

A Model of Indonesian City Structure

Larry R. Ford

Geographical Review, Vol. 83, No. 4. (Oct., 1993), pp. 374-396.

Stable URL:


Geographical Review is currently published by American Geographical Society.

Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available athttp://www.jstor.org/about/terms.html. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtainedprior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content inthe JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.

Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained athttp://www.jstor.org/journals/ags.html.

Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printedpage of such transmission.

The JSTOR Archive is a trusted digital repository providing for long-term preservation and access to leading academicjournals and scholarly literature from around the world. The Archive is supported by libraries, scholarly societies, publishers,and foundations. It is an initiative of JSTOR, a not-for-profit organization with a mission to help the scholarly community takeadvantage of advances in technology. For more information regarding JSTOR, please contact [email protected].

http://www.jstor.orgTue Aug 28 16:07:30 2007

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ABSTRACT. With approximately thirty cities of more than a quarter-million population, including seven with more than one million, Indonesia is a primary focus for the study of the city in Southeast Asia. By occupying a position midway between the hyperdevelopment of Singapore and the isolation of Burma, In-donesian cities provide insight into both continuity and change in the region. A morphological model identifies political and economic trends that influence urban form through time. Based chiefly on large, coastal provincial capitals, the model applies in some degree to all cities in Indonesia.

INDONESIA is the fourth-largest country in the world, with an area of almost 2 million square kilometers and more than 185million inhabitants. More than 50 million Indonesians are classified as urban, a figure that is

expected to increase to more than 70 million by 2000. It is estimated that in 1992 Indonesia had seven urban areas surpassing one million people and twenty-two other cities with populations in excess of 250,000 (Sensus pen-duduk 1990).Many Indonesian cities have been expanding very rapidly in recent years, with a few exceeding a growth rate of 6 percent annually. An important limitation in examining urban trends outside the largest cities is that only fifty-foururban places, a small minority of the total, have municipal status, which means that they are the only ones with official boundaries and population counts. Most population clusters, even some with more than 100,000 people, are still categorized as desas, or collections of villages, and lack local government. They are administered from the provincial or higher level of authority. In 1980,Indonesia had an estimated three hundred urban places with more than 20,000 people (Hamer, Steer, and Williams 1986). In other words, if anything, the degree of urbanization in Indonesia is underestimated.

Indonesia is not a homogeneous country: diversity includes numerous cultural groups and a territory that is a vast archipelago. Its cities reflect this diversity. On Javaand Sumatra urbanization dates back to the eighth century A.D., when Srivijaya,near present-day Palembang,was the center of a trading empire on the Strait of Malacca. For the next five centuries, various inland sacred or palace Hindu-Buddhist cities dominated the islands that constitute Indonesia (Reed 1976). Mataram, Kediri, Borobudur, and, more recently, Jogjakarta and Solo are examples of the once Indianized, but now Islamic, cosmic cities on Java alone. Traditional, religious-inspired urban form still characterizesa fewsettlements, most notably the sultan's capitalof Jogjakarta,

- - -

DR.FORDis a professor of geography at San Diego State University, San Diego, Cali-fornia 92182.

Copyright O 1993 by the American Geographical Society of New York

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and this form is also a feature of some coastal trading cities that are now common throughout the urban hierarchy.

Most of the large coastal cities are provincial capitals. Given the far-flung and disconnected physical geography of Indonesia, the role of regional cen- ters is especially important, from Medan in North Sumatra to Manado in North Sulawesi. The central government has long been caught in a dilemma over the role of these disparate capitals. On the one hand, the most efficient way to control an effective national territory in a new and somewhat arbi- trarily defined country is to create a system of dynamic, reasonably auton- omous cities. They would provide the needed infrastructure to help spread the fruits of economic development throughout the country and would minimize the core-periphery problem of hypergrowth in Jakarta, the national capital. On the other hand, Indonesia has long been reluctant to encourage too much regional autonomy because of troublesome secessionist move- ments, especially in the country's remote extremities (Drake 1989).The cen- tral government carefully controls linkages such as international air routes and trade patterns, although in recent years this grip has loosened to the benefit of regional cities.

There are many pros and cons in the development of strong regional capitals, and ideological positions play an important role. In recent years, the central government has strongly favored more regional autonomy and economic equality, so numerous smaller cities are growing. The number of complicated governmental regulations that encourage, or even require, in- dustries to locate at or near Jakarta in order to interact with decision makers has been reduced. Financing procedures have been deregulated and liber- alized, and banking has become nearly ubiquitous because foreign banks are now free to open branches in cities other than Jakarta. As a result, many regional centers are now expanding more rapidly than is the capital. Medan, for example, is one of the fastest growing major cities in the world, and many of the smaller, resource-rich cities on Kalimantan and Sulawesi are booming as well.

Relatively little is known about the form and structure of Indonesian cities. In view of the increasing importance of urban Indonesia, I propose a morphological model that can shed light on the processes shaping them. Models have a way of developing a life of their own as they are reproduced through the years. T. G. McGee (1967)used the phrase "generalized diagram of main land use areas" rather than the term model to describe Southeast Asian urban form. Although I am fully aware of the shortcomings as well as the heuristic value of such models, I propose one specifically for Indonesian cities to generalize about the components of urban morphology and the processes affecting their spatial arrangement and to initiate theoretical dis- course. Morphological models are meant not to be finished products or empirically accurate representations but rather to serve as frameworks for asking questions.

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Because most rapidly growing Indonesian cities, large or small, are coastal commercial centers established by colonial or at least extralocal powers such as Islamic traders, they provide the basis for the discussion of the develop- ment of my model. Although the coastal cities share many morphological and functional arrangements with the cities of the interior and even with the carefully designed palace cities, the discussion of generalized Indonesian city structure focuses primarily on Jakarta, Semarang, Surabaya, Medan, and, to a lesser extent, Padang and Ujung Pandang. Because of its role in a highly centralized political and economic system, Jakarta must be given extraordi- nary importance in the development of any model. Here were first laid out the basic plans that would define the character of an Indonesian city. In general, what happened first in Jakarta appeared later, at least to some degree, in most other Indonesian cities (Cobban 1976; Abeyasekere 1987; Leinbach 1987).

The initial form of most Indonesian coastal cities reflected some aspect of foreign urban ideology. Several cities, among them Demak, Benten, Aceh, Surabaya, and Makasar, were large Islamic centers before the coming of Europeans, and most of them underwent some degree of destruction and reorganization during the colonial period (Reed 1980). By the 1700s, Jakarta, Semarang, and Surabaya each had central areas modeled after ideal Dutch port cities, complete with canals, city walls, cathedrals, and townhouse ar- chitecture. Interior towns such as Bogor and Bandung, on the other hand, were designed as highland resorts with large estates and gardens. Still others, such as Medan, were founded as ideal agricultural service centers. In each case, European, especially Dutch, ideal landscapes were imposed on alien cultural and physical environments. Those aesthetic features led to problems as the cities grew. For example, the canals of Jakarta quickly became sluggish, malaria-infested disamenities rather than Dutch-style open spaces, and the city became infamous for its rich variety of diseases. Similarly, the tall, closed, heavy architecture introduced by the Dutch proved to be highly inappro- priate in the equatorial climate of Java.

The Dutch controlled the cities, but few Dutch lived in them. In 1673, only 2,000 of the 27,000 people who lived in Jakarta were classified as Eu- ropean, and many of them were probably Eurasians (Abeyasekere 1987). The commercial and industrial activities that supported the cities were soon dominated by Chinese immigrants, because indigenous populations were considered unskilled in trade and perhaps too hostile to be allowed to occupy central locations. The Chinese quickly expanded their own landscape of tightly packed shophouses and tenements, a landscape as ill suited as that of the Europeans to the environment.

In the eighteenth century, a typical city, or kota, on the Javanese coast consisted of a tiny European-appearing core adjacent to a Chinatown and the equally segregated communities of other Asian traders. Beyond a city's defenses or official boundaries were the indigenous Javanese desas. The dense

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network of villages provided food and occasional labor for the cities, an arrangement that did not last. As cities grew, dissatisfaction set in, especially among the elite. In contrast with Latin America and many other parts of the world, large Indonesian cities did not remain focused on a valued and "sa- c r e d central core.

By the end of the eighteenth century, the compact, poorly drained cities of Dutch origin were perceived to be less than ideal places for Europeans to live in. Suburbanization was made difficult by both the swampy nature of the land adjacent to the cities and its prior settlement by a dense network of native villages. For various reasons, the European residents sought higher ground well away from the original city, a pattern that first emerged in Jakarta.

In Jakarta, a second node developed around a large, parklike military- training ground known as the Koningsplein, about three kilometers south of the original city. The area not only was distant from the smelly canals but also had good drinking water from wells beyond the zone of saline intrusion. A single road lined with houses and governmental buildings connected the new district, known as Weltevreden, with the old city. Soon, classical-style governmental buildings set in expansive gardens gave new importance to Weltevreden, and the old city was largely abandoned by the power structure. Javanese-inspired bungalows became the desired residences in the new European suburbs that arose around the Koningsplein, and the townhouses in the old city were given over to the Chinese for conversion to shophouses. The city walls and fortifications were razed to provide build- ing materials for the construction of Weltevreden, and the old city became a generalized port district known as Sunda Kelapa. Urban ideology had changed. Replicas of medieval European port cities became unfashionable as the governing elite attempted to build spacious, airy, monumental city- scapes emulating current trends in Europe. Additionally, as the countryside was pacified, concerns for health and a pleasant environment took precedence over the need for defense.

The essentially linear structure of Jakarta was thus well established by the early decades of the nineteenth century: the city consisted of an eight- kilometer-long strip seldom more than one kilometer wide. By the mid- 1800s, the city of 70,000 had the shape of a dumbbell, with the old core and port to the north and the new core and European residential area to the south. The strip connecting those nodes became gradually enlarged as Jav- anese kampungs, or, roughly, urban villages (Krausse 1978), and desas filled in around it. This new dumbbell-infill pattern came to dominate Indonesian urban morphology for more than a century.

Interestingly, the structure of the typical palace city was also essentially linear but for a very different reason-religious ideology. The core of Jog- jakarta follows a cosmic spine that connects Gunung Agung, a sacred moun-

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tain north of the city, to the ocean on the south. The commercial sector extends in both directions along this spine from the palace and its associated large open square, or alun-alun, at the center. This arrangement makes for more morphological comparability between the coastal cities and inland palace cities than might otherwise be expected. In Jakarta, the Koningsplein and the governmental Weltevreden became the equivalent of the Javanese alun-alun and palace.

By the middle decades of the twentieth century, Surabaya and Semarang developed, to some degree, in the linear dumbbell pattern. Medan, a much newer city, followed this pattern in reverse: the agricultural city expanded downriver to connect with the port. Most other Indonesian cities remained small and compact until well into the twentieth century.

After political independence in 1949, several new layers of urban ideology were added to the rapidly growing cities of Indonesia as political leaders sought to distance themselves from the colonial heritage and landscape. President Sukarno identified strongly with the nonaligned-nations move- ment and sought to make Indonesia a leader of the emerging third world (Legge 1972). He also championed the concentration of power, which in- creased the importance of Jakarta for two reasons. First, because unrest was prevalent on Sumatra, Sulawesi, and even parts of Java, the decentralization of government and private economic activities that had begun under the Dutch was temporarily discontinued. Jakarta, which had actually been smaller than industrial Surabaya for a time in the early twentieth century, grew increasingly dominant. Second, as Sukarno sought to create a capital of which the third world could be proud, the central government expended more funds on urban projects. Up to half of the city budget came from the central government by 1960. Shortly after taking power, Sukarno began to plan for the Asian Games, which he intended Indonesia to host in 1962. To do so Jakarta was to be drastically redesigned.

During the 1920s, as a student of architecture and civil engineering, Sukarno was strongly influenced by the ideas of Le Corbusier and the Mod- ernists, especially by the thesis that urban planning could help to create an ideal society. He had visions of what a proper capital should look like and took an active role in reshaping the city. Jakarta was not an impressive place in the 1950s. Conditions had deteriorated during the Japanese occupation and the subsequent struggle for independence. The old city had decayed, and the new city around the Koningsplein, renamed Medan Merdeka or Freedom Square, was only partially developed. Monuments were few, as were grand vistas befitting an important international capital. Many serious proposals were made to move the capital to a more manageable location or to a new, totally planned city modeled on then-under-construction Brasilia. A new capital, however, was an extravagance that Indonesia could ill afford,

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FIG.1-A Sukarno-era landscape: a view of Medan Merdeka with the National Mon- ument in the center. (Photograph by author)

so Sukarno sought to provide Jakarta with new, highly visible symbols that would reflect new ideologies.

Attempts to give Jakarta new symbols had begun by the mid-1950s. Sukarno removed the temporary structures from the vast Medan Merdeka and, in 1961, erected a 132-meter-high National Monument, or Monas, topped with a huge gilded flame (Fig. 1). Elsewhere, pedestals topped with heroic, melodramatic statues carrying a variety of swords, chains, and flames graced the lawns of governmental buildings and the main traffic intersections. Such embellishments were only the beginning. If Sukarno could not create an entirely new capital, he could give Jakarta a new monumental center far from the teeming lanes of the existing metropolis of two million people.

A new town called Kebayoran Baru, constructed six kilometers south of Medan Merdeka, was to be the epitome of modernity, complete with spacious governmental buildings, modern department stores, and Western-style hous- ing. The idea of a new town had been introduced as a retreat for Europeans by the Dutch in 1946, but the symbolism of a modern planned city was easily transferred to the new regime. A monumental spine of new streets connected Kebayoran Baru with the National Monument at Medan Merdeka, and a new dumbbell was created. Jakarta was more than sixteen kilometers long and, in most places, about four kilometers wide. Sukarno hoped to line this spine with photogenic symbols of modernity financed, as much as possible, with foreign aid. The Soviet Union paid for a massive stadium and sports complex for the Asian games; Japan helped build the Hotel Indonesia; and the United States sent money for highway improvements, including a

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giant, modern cloverleaf interchange. The Hotel Indonesia, the first inter- national-standard hotel in the city, quickly became the center of its social and political life. Eventually, a new Brasilia-style governmental complex, a convention center, and several additional hotels were built along or near the spine in this extension of Jakarta.

Sukarno wanted the boulevards to be lined with tall, impressive struc- tures, but during the 1950s little capital was available for such projects, and demand for high-rise office space and hotels was low. Towers were expensive to construct in the swampy city, and even mid-rise buildings encountered difficulties. Construction lagged as the private city was slow to fill in behind the new public city. Western investors were leery of the apparently left- leaning Sukarno. The government had built the skeleton, but there was little money to flesh it out. Under Sukarno's urging, similar frameworks were laid out in Semarang and Surabaya, but infill was even slower there.

With governmental attention focused on the symbolic and elitist elements of city structure, conditions in much of the rest of Jakarta had deteriorated. Rapid growth and massive in-migration led to the erection of temporary housing and squatter settlements. Many older structures became over-crowded as they were used as way stations for persons seeking work and a more permanent situation. Jakarta became a classic dual city. At its center were an elite spine of planned and paved streets, regularized lots, and various services. Immediately beyond this spine, usually with no transition zone, were kampung areas of makeshift lanes and houses and few, if any, services. Many kampungs were sacrificed to create the modern city. People were displaced from some kampungs to make way for the new development, but more kampungs filled in the areas immediately behind the new photogenic towers along the new boulevards.

Changes began in 1965 with a new government that had a different set of ideologies for the Indonesian city. Although the political complexities of the era are beyond the scope of this brief article, the gist is that Sukarno, the old-guard leader of the revolution, was perceived by the army and Islamic leaders to be dangerously close to the Chinese Communist party in his political sympathies. With the economy in the doldrums, expensive, largely symbolic projects were impoverishing the treasury. The look and physical structure of the leading cities reflected the Sukarno legacy, in that his gov- ernment was good at symbolism but poor at basic urban facilities such as water, sewerage, and transportation (Abeyasekere 1987). After 1965, the New Order, led by President Suharto, emerged as the government of Indonesia. The new regime was pro-Western, pro-capitalist, pro-development, and pro- foreign investment. Heroic social realist statues were replaced by Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken signs in the symbolic landscape of the city.

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FIG. 2-The international spine of Jakarta. (Photograph by author)

The 1970s were relatively prosperous for Indonesia. New foreign in- vestment, coupled with the oil boom and the tourism boom, especially on Bali, meant money for urban projects. The skyline of Jakarta began to look impressive, as more than fifty mid- and high-rise structures were built along the main spine between 1970 and 1990 (Fig. 2). Corporate towers for the Bank of America and Sumitomo appeared, along with air-conditioned shop- ping malls. By the mid-1980s, the elite spine had acquired a dazzling veneer of Westernization.

Starting in 1969 the kampungs adjacent to the spine also began to receive more attention, although the problems there continued to be severe in some cases (Hamer, Steer, and Williams 1986). Poverty remains a crucial problem: Indonesia is a poor country, with a per capita 1990 gross national product of only $490, which is very low by Pacific Rim standards. Recent reports indicate that the figure is growing rapidly and may now be at $600, but incomes for the majority of the population remain low, and employment is precarious (Rachman 1993). Still, the quality of life in many kampungs has

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r kampung

middle-income suburbs

government mixed commercial zone

Chinese commercial zone 81 international commercial zone

-FIG.3-A model of Indonesian city structure.

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ameliorated. Kampung improvement projects, financed in part by the World Bank, have brought paved lanes, piped water, electricity, schools, and various urban services to many formerly neglected areas. As a result, housing has been bettered as many residents have built impressive permanent structures to replace the bamboo-matting ones. Although the projects have improved the situation for more than three million people in Jakarta and almost a half million in Surabaya, some problems seem nearly unsolvable. Most waste, for example, flows directly into the open trenches in which many poor people bathe and launder. Simple improvements such as access to piped water can make a tremendous difference in quality of kampung life, but it is difficult to generalize, because changes have been uneven. Many areas are quite pleasant, while conditions in others are between horrible and astonishingly bad.

Beginning in the early 1970s, serious attempts were made to control immigration to Jakarta and to channel urban growth elsewhere. A combi- nation of residence permits and policies for the distribution of business licenses sought to limit the rate of growth. Additionally, satellite industrial and residential areas as well as a new international airport were constructed in towns around Jakarta such as Bekasi, Bogor, and Tangerang, which created an extended urban region known as Jabotabek (Giebels 1986). Jakarta, in spite of massive annexations of territory since 1950, became underbounded. By 1990 Jabotabek contained 11.4 million people, but only 8.2 million lived in the city.

Most of the new urban development was confined to metropolitan Jakarta until the late 1980s. It remained the undisputed center for high-level financial and service activities, but other cities began to benefit from the long years of peace and the consequent decentralization of governmental and private employment. The establishment of banks, universities, industrial parks, ring roads, retailing, and consumer services began to affect urban morphology throughout Indonesia. Regions such as Sumatra and Kalimantan, which provided raw materials to earn foreign exchange, began to demand a more equitable share of the returns. Modest skyscrapers appeared along the spine in Surabaya, as did three large, enclosed shopping malls. In Semarang, the mosque at the new open square was joined by a multistory shopping mall, a luxury hotel, and several office buildings. In Medan, a massive new uni- versity campus was constructed, along with large tracts of suburban housing. Smaller and more tentative spines of development appeared in cities such as Padang and Jogjakarta. Many cities obtained their first nongovernmental office buildings only in the late 1980s. The outlines were beginning to fill in by 1991, although some concerns about overbuilding appeared as well. Still, there was little doubt that by 1990, impressive levels of economic activity had begun to filter down the urban hierarchy. The Indonesian city beyond Jakarta was emerging: landscape features such as skyscrapers, malls, indus- trial parks, and grand boulevards became common in the provinces.

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FIG. 4-Dutch influence is visible in this view of the original old town of Jakarta. (Photograph by author)

With some understanding of the historical development and socioeco- nomic and political context of the Indonesian city, it is possible to postulate a culturally specific contemporary model (Fig. 3). I fully recognize that any morphological model which attempts to impose Western ideas of segregated landuses and social status on the relatively jumbled and chaotic Asian city can describe only part of the picture. For example, in Indonesia every pre- dominant landuse is likely to introduce uses from the other end of the economic spectrum. Below the corporate towers of Jakarta are street markets and teeming bus terminals. Parked directly in front of mansions in the most expensive elite housing districts are pushcarts serving food to the servants and gardeners who constitute a large percentage of the population there. All but the poorest kampungs contain large and well-furnished houses. Nev- ertheless, the modern Indonesian city has identifiable districts, and spatial order is not entirely absent. The model comprises nine zones: a port-colonial city zone, a Chinese commercial zone, an international commercial zone, a mixed commercial zone, a government zone, an elite residential zone, middle- income suburbs, industrial zones, and kampungs.


The port and related colonial-city structures are a main morphological component of most Indonesian coastal cities. Many port-related activities have remained in the original zone even when new, larger facilities have been constructed elsewhere. The port is often adjacent to a fossilized district of Dutch colonial design that is only marginally functional in the modern

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FIG.5-A view of the Chinese commercial zone in Semarang. (Photograph by author)

city, which I call the colonial city (Fig. 4). The boundaries between it and the port are purposively vague, because many warehouses, forts, watchtow- ers, houses, and other waterfront features from the colonial era may be present in some form, even in the midst of expanded modern port facilities.

The Dutch colonial city is an important visible element in the Indonesian city that still looms large in the landscape. It is no longer functionally im- portant, and many buildings are underutilized. Attempts at historic pres- ervation have met with only limited success, in part because of the increasing distance between the old core and the new inland centers of commercial and political life (Cobban 1985). Saving Dutch architecture is fraught with ide- ological difficulties as well. Dutch festivals are held each year in Jakarta's historic district, complete with wooden shoes and tulips, but attendance has been low. Nevertheless, new attractions are being interwoven. An old Dutch building is now a puppet museum featuring Javanese shadow plays and gamelan music. It gives an eerily charming Hindu-Buddhist dimension to architectural recycling.


In Indonesia, a Chinese commercial district is less distinctive than it formerly was, because national laws disallow signs in Chinese characters (Fig. 5). Nevertheless, religious freedom allows Buddhist temples to be Chi- nese in style. In several cities, such as Semarang, the Chinese constituted a majority of the population until recently; now they typically constitute some- where between 10 and 40 percent of city residents (Jackson 1975). Although Indonesia feared the Chinese communists from 1949 to 1965, ethnic Chinese

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capitalists now control much of the country's economy. When the Dutch left, the Chinese filled the vacuum, which led to a certain degree of hostility on the part of native groups, who viewed Chinese domination as neocolonial- ism. Some antagonism still exists, but the government and the Chinese business community have achieved an alliance that calls for the Chinese to provide capital and business expertise in exchange for social and economic stability and protection. The Chinese commercial zone corresponds to a vaguely defined Chinatown, in which much of the business of the city is transacted. It is an area of traditional shophouses and of new shopping plazas with discount appliance stores. The incredibly high densities and jumbled landuses make Chinatown an identifiable place with its own functional and cultural character. It typically occupies parts of the colonial city and its early extension along the spine.

The extension of a large, vibrant Chinatown shapes the Indonesian city in at least two ways. First, the population density, which can reach as high as 100,000 people per square kilometer, and the economic importance make it all but impossible to redevelop Chinatown without either making extrav- agant payments to the landowners or risking economic disruption through arbitrary political action. Second, the appearance and the symbolism of the area, with its compact shophouses, Buddhist temples, and morphological complexity, seldom conform to what might be termed Indonesian landscape tastes, which call for a spacious open square surrounded by sprawling, in- ternational-style structures or by open, Javanese- or Sumatran-influenced architecture. The Chinese look is not seen as something to be emulated, and many Indonesian businesses prefer to locate in other parts of the urban area, so Chinatown remains a separate entity.


Indonesian cities typically have a spine of development leading from the waterfront. Along this spine is a gradation of commercial activities, and somewhere along it the Chinese commercial area gradually merges into a mixed commercial zone. This zone is likely to be the real economic heart of the city, with everything from open traditional markets to modern pedestrian malls. The space is shared by Javanese rice sellers, Chinese jewelers, and Pizza Huts. The zone is not only ethnically and functionally mixed but also architecturally diverse. The streets are wider than in Chinatown, but the broad boulevards of the inland new city are not evident. There are a few office buildings, especially Chinese banks and older governmental buildings, but no structure is too tall or too ostentatious. There are residential streets, but business dominates the scene. The commercial spine rarely parallels a waterfront and so is never on the edge of the city. The spine is thus the middle of the model, surrounded by kampungs where various support func- tions such as street vendors are based.

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FIG. 6-The international commercial spine of Jakarta adjacent to a midcity kampung. (Photograph by author)


The model contains a district that can be described as an international or Western commercial zone. The term Western is somewhat misleading, because very few Westerners, as a percentage of total population, work there, and much of it has been built or financed by the Japanese. Indonesians, not Westerners, predominate in the office buildings, luxury shops, international hotels, discos, and theaters of this zone. Nevertheless, the look of the zone, with its skyscrapers, megamalls, Italian restaurants, and convention centers, is Western in origin, although it is perhaps best described as international. Some observers would call it placeless. Jalan Thamrin could almost be Wil- shire Boulevard; the prices are similar.

The international commercial zone is typically thin and confined along the main monumental boulevard. Immediately behind the towers, the kam- pungs start (Fig. 6). In large cities a second boulevard, more or less parallel to the original, delimits an interstitial area known, predictably, as the Golden Triangle in Jakarta. A similar triangle exists in Semarang, but neither has been filled in. The issue of displacement is again becoming important as low-income residences are threatened by a widening sector of elite 1and.uses. Few people live in the international commercial zone, although this feature may be changing. The land is far too expensive for houses, and apartment living is not yet common, especially among the elite. Some recently con- structed residential towers along the spines may well become accepted as traffic worsens-if that is possible-and as accessible location gains higher

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FIG.7-An open green area in the government zone. (Photograph by author)

priority. Apartment towers are especially noticeable where the international commercial zone meets the government zone, because there the convenience of good shopping is combined with the scarce amenity of green, open space.


The government zone, relatively distant from the colonial city, is elon- gated in the model so as to include both the older, preindependence areas and the newer, Sukarno-inspired developments. Not every governmental office is located in this zone, but the combination of a nineteenth-century area, as around Medan Merdeka, and the new areas such as Senayan makes for a long, albeit discontinuous, sector of highly symbolic governmental edifices. Most either are set in spacious gardens with numerous fountains or occupy impressive towers similar to those occupied by private corporations (Fig. 7). In addition to office buildings, there are likely to be stadiums and sports centers, exhibition halls, schools, military compounds, and various public and semipublic open spaces. This pattern reflects the intown Brasilia- type urban ideology of the 1960s. Although true parks are few, the govern- ment zone often acts as the lungs of the city. No wonder the elite residences are often located nearby.


By the eighteenth century, many of the European elite sought residences outside the compact, unhealthy ports. Those early attempts usually involved living in a distinctly linear pattern along main highways leading from the city. Only with the establishment of Weltevreden near Koningsplein did a

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FIG. 8-The elite residential zone: a residence in Kebayoran Baru, built in the 1970s. (Photograph by author)

truly elite garden district emerge in Jakarta. By the early years of the twentieth century, such districts had become more common, at least on Java, and the scale of development increased. In Jakarta, Menteng was laid out south of Weltevreden complete with mansions, bungalows, and picturesque tree-lined streets, and similar districts evolved in Surabaya and Bandung. Although commercial and governmental uses such as embassies have intruded, these districts remain desirable in part because they are large enough to constitute their own sense of place and identity. Historic-preservation groups are ac- tively trying to save and renovate residential architecture in these areas.

Beginning in the 1950s, elite suburbanization expanded into noncontig- uous large-scale developments. In Jakarta, the new town of Kebayoran Baru was established immediately beyond the Asian Games complex and new governmental buildings at Senayen. Kebayoran Baru was to be a showpiece of modern urban planning, with large houses along tree-lined, curvilinear streets (Fig. 8). Most houses relied on wells for domestic water supply, but the district was fully sewered. In Semarang, elites moved into the rolling hills south of the new open square and built houses with views of the city below, in a Hollywood-like fashion.

Over the years there has been a tendency for these elite districts to grow together into a continuous spine in order to take advantage of modern highways, luxury shopping, urban services, and landuse regulations. Most recently, highly planned, gated residential compounds complete with swim- ming pools and fitness centers have been created in and around the rural kampungs even farther inland. Because most of these are large enough to

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have self-contained services such as water and sewerage, they may be located in scenic areas more distant from the elite sector than was the case in the past. In addition, small Chinese elite residential districts sometimes exist on reclaimed land near the Chinese commercial zone.

The acquisition of luxury housing has become a principal investment strategy for wealthy Indonesians. Foreigners cannot own houses in Indonesia, and expatriate businesspeople seeking a residence in an Indonesian city constitute a market for anyone who wishes to rent out a luxury dwelling. Oil companies specifically have been willing to bid up the price of Western- style luxury housing, preferably adjacent to a golf course. With improvements and additions seen as potentially profitable, the gap between elite residential zones and other areas widens.


Planned suburbs for middle-income groups are a relatively recent phe- nomenon in Indonesia, simply because this economic level was very limited. The pattern began to change in the 1970s. With the construction of ring roads, suburban industrial parks, shopping centers, university campuses, and the like, the need for properly planned, modestly priced tract housing became evident. Although the vast majority of the new Indonesian middle class lived in gradually upgrading kampungs, demand for housing exceeded supply, especially in the new peripheral developments.

Most new suburbs have been built on one or both sides of the traditional linear city, well away from the elite spine and the kampungs. One result is to widen the dumbbell. This pattern differs from the remote inland locations postulated by previous models. The new suburbs are typically far enough inland to avoid swamps and saltwater intrusion but close enough to the coast to have access to port-related industrial and transportation employment. In Jakarta, the satellite cities of Bekasi and Tanjerang, together with the new international airport, have served as destinations for middle-income spines that developed perpendicular to the north-south linear core. With the elites laying claim to remote, high inland areas, these semilowland sections of the metropolitan area are the best sites for tract development. New drainage technologies have facilitated the recapturing of such areas. Planned middle- income tracts may exist occasionally in separate, inland locations in associ- ation with a village or employment node, but these are usually distant from the elite spine (Fig. 9).


The cities of Indonesia may have initially bypassed the industrial stage of urban evolution. Recent growth has been heavily dependent on increasing employment in public administration, communication and transportation services, consumer services, finance, and real estate. With few exceptions, one being shipbuilding in Surabaya, heavy industry has a minor role in

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FIG.9-A middle-income suburb: tract housing in Medan. (Photograph by author)

urban morphology. There are no vast areas of railroad yards, steel mills, and warehouses in the central city. Craft-scale industries have typically been embedded in the kampungs rather than in highly visible industrial land- scapes. All this is beginning to change.

During the 1970s Indonesia embarked on a program of import substi- tution and actively encouraged foreign investment in industry. Not only have the traditional industries such as textiles, wood products, leather, and food processing boomed, but also automobile assembly, aircraft production and maintenance, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, electronics, and a number of other industries have arisen. With the oil glut of the 1980s, further encour- agement was given to diversifying the industrial base (Hamer, Steer, and Williams 1986).

Decentralization is not a new idea. A new, enlarged port was established at Tanjung Priok east of Jakarta, in the late nineteenth century, and small cities such as Cirebon and Kediri have long had specialized local industries. Now, port facilities, satellite cities, and suburban industrial parks are being linked by highways to form a Western pattern of dispersed industrial zones. Manufacturing activity is likely to become much more important in the future. Currently, street peddlers outnumber factory workers in most In- donesian cities (Castles 1989). By 2000, Indonesia may be one of the newly industrialized countries of the Pacific Rim (Rachman 1993).


The separation of villagelike kampung developments from the formal zones must be an essential component of any model of Indonesian urbanism.

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FIG. 10-An inner-city kampung at Surabaya. (Photograph by author)

The kampungs are what remains after discussion of all the foreign, planned, elite, and industrial sections of the city. Approximately two-thirds of all urban Indonesians live in kampungs, but this fact by itself is not that in- formative, because kampungs vary considerably in many ways. There is no really acceptable English-language definition of the word, and it is difficult to discuss the areas with great precision. Still, there is a big difference between a planned middle-density residential zone and an area of similar density in an informally developed kampung. Historically, kampungs constituted a separate village-support system for the largely alien city and were almost always isolated and poor. In recent years they have been engulfed by the growing cities, and in the process some have been improved and made accessible while others have deteriorated. As a result of kampung improve- ment schemes and increased prosperity, some of the better-located kampungs could be described as predominantly middle class. I define a kampung as a mostly unplanned, primarily low-income residential area that has gradually been built and serviced. I suggest a four-part typology: inner-city kampungs, midcity kampungs, rural kampungs, and temporary squatter kampungs.

Inner-city kampungs, located mostly between the original colonial city and the new inland cores, are typically old, high-density areas with severe environmental problems (Fig. 10). Densities reach as high as 100,000 per square kilometer in Jakarta, with a high percentage of the population sharing space in pondoks, or traditional rooming houses. Over the years distinctions among the planned colonial city, the original Chinatown with its shophouses, and the unplanned native kampungs have blurred, as all have been contin- uously rebuilt and covered with a patina of grime. The mostly low-rise,

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FIG. 11-An improved kampung in Jogjakarta. (Photograph by author)

primitive structures in kampungs are jammed together with little or no open space or greenery. Health problems are rampant because sewers are not covered, and canals and trenches receive the effluent of the entire metro- politan area. During the rainy season, flooding is a major problem, and many streets become impassable. Traffic noise, congestion, and smells add to the unpleasant conditions. Obtaining drinkable water is a problem because in coastal areas freshwater from wells is nonexistent and piped water is mainly available only at communal taps. Most people must buy water from street vendors, so it is expensive and minimal. Population is declining in many inner-city kampungs as a result of commercial intrusions and perhaps vol- untary emigration. Still, most of the inner-city kampungs remain over-crowded by any definition. Access to employment is the attraction.

Midcity kampungs, such as those located south of Medan Merdeka in Jakarta, are much more pleasant than inner-city ones but are far from idyllic. Densities are typically between 20,000 and 40,000 people per square kilo- meter, and water often can be obtained from wells. Flooding is relatively rare, and many areas have benefited from flood-control projects that are part of kampung improvement schemes. Greenery and tree-lined streets are more common (Fig. 11).Many residents have improved their dwellings, and two- story concrete structures with red, clay-tile roofs are not unusual. Although businesses and crafts are still almost ubiquitous, some streets appear to be predominantly residential.

Some midcity kampungs seem to occupy ideal locations because they are close enough to the fashionable residential districts and employment centers along the spine to benefit both from the provision of urban services and

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FIG. 12-A temporary squatter kampung in Jakarta. (Photograph by author)

from employment opportunities. Because most kampungs are built around narrow lanes, vehicular traffic other than motorbikes is minimal. However, these locations are threatened by expanding landuses. As the spine develops and the golden triangle fills in, some kampungs will disappear. In both the inner-city and midcity kampungs, electricity and electrical appliances are common.

Although the term rural urban village might pose semantic problems, such places constitute an increasingly important component of metropolitan populations. Rural kampungs are farther from the urban core and are often associated, at least historically, with agricultural villages. Rural kampungs are both peripheral and relatively self-contained. Some are still agricultural in character; others specialize in space-extensive craft production, such as furniture making, that depends on urban buyers who seek them out. The mix of economic activities can be intriguing, as in the shoe street of Bandung, where shoe factories and outlets face a busy commercial thoroughfare and paddies are tended at the rear.

Some village kampungs remain rustic; others are slowly being engulfed by the city. Boundaries are not clear. Rural densities are so high, especially on Java and Bali, that it is difficult to determine where the city ends and the countryside begins. Compared with urban kampungs, residential densities in rural kampungs are low and gardens abound. Services are scarce. Most households rely on propane for fuel and lighting, and many streets are unpaved. Traditional building materials are common, but structures of bam- boo-matting walls and thatched roofs are intermixed with more substantial modern dwellings. Most villages contain families that have been there for a

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long time, in contrast with the relatively transient population of the inner- city pondoks.

In some cities an interesting blend of rural kampungs specializing in high-quality crafts and adjacent upscale Westernized compounds is emerging in desirable inland and upland locations. Village markets and Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets are juxtaposed on the narrow lanes of woodland kampungs. Income levels vary substantially in these diverse kampungs: some people are employed in the service sector; others grow rice.

Last and least are the temporary squatter kampungs. They are scattered throughout the metropolitan area and are associated with disamenity sites such as marshland and flood zones or with areas in transition to other uses (Fig. 12). Some are not temporary, because they have existed for a long time, but they are officially temporary because they are not eligible to participate in kampung improvement schemes. The lack of permanence, not the level of poverty, gives this landscape its uniqueness. Good employment oppor- tunities may or may not be nearby, but even people with incomes have little inclination to improve their housing. Conditions are often bad beyond belief, with a hodgepodge of makeshift dwellings along polluted canals or railroad tracks. They can be found in all zones of the city except the elite spine.

Much of what has been written about Indonesian cities emphasizes the colonial heritage or political upheavals leading to societal change. Better understanding of the morphological character of Indonesian cities is essential in organizing some aspects of development and change as the patterns di- verge from those in other Asian contexts. The effects of colonialism are fading, and unique approaches to accommodating urban growth are emerging. The model postulated here is a framework for analyzing and discussing the components of change in one of the largest and most rapidly urbanizing countries in the world.


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