by John Kevin Chandra
Faced with political unrest and the looming notion of a change in the Capital City, Jakarta looks to re-establish its foundations as the Capital City by providing an alternative stance in politics and approach to development - coexistence with mangroves and the celebration of softpower to regain the reputation and trust of both local and international audiences. The Urban Strategy is designed with the notion of an Architecture of Soft-power, resilience and transparency as a new legislative body centred around mangroves to re-establish its identity as the Capital City.
A country with the world’s largest mangrove forests, the capital city of Jakarta is constructed on swampy foundations. At the same time, past neglect of mangroves, worsened by climate change and rising sea levels, has resulted in geological subsidence of the Indonesian capital at a rate of over 25cm per year. Despite widespread neglect, the mangrove forest is central to the survival of this capital. Extending beyond this ecological argument, the thesis probes the significance of the mangrove to the capital city from a cultural perspective.
Expanding the understanding of Jakarta’s material and physical mangrove foundations, it focuses on the popular Indonesian exports derived from the mangrove forest – Batik, Krupuk, Gamelan, Wayang Kulit. These items constitute forms of soft power, and central to Indonesian diplomacy, acting as familiar Indonesian cultural symbols. They persuasively articulate national sentiments without the burdens of state policy and government ideologies.
Drawing parallels with Indonesia’s recurrent siting of its capitals within the mangrove landscape; this thesis adopts the mangroves and its cultural outputs as modes of soft power which are simultaneously symbolic, cultural, influential, embodied and intimate. Through the narrative of a new Ministry of Mangrove with its focus on an architecture of soft-power and urban-cultural-social resilience, the thesis provides an alternate urban plan and modes of occupation which revolve around the day-to-day workings that give substance and form to these mangrove-related subjects of soft power.
Through the contextual framing of the annual and internationally influential Jakarta Fair, the thesis explores how the cultivation, storage, processing and distribution of mangrove and its relationships to the production of Batik, Krupuk, Gamelan, Wayang Kulit might become foundational to the independent livelihood of the Jakarta people and critical to the sustainable transformation of the city structure.