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Sydney students work to solve issues of informal urbanism

25 May 2017
Students collaborate on planning solutions to improve urban living
Students from the School of Architecture, Design and Planning and the Institute of Technology Bandung (ITB), participated in a joint studio; one of a suite of innovative urban solutions contributing to making better cities.

Students from the University of Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning and the Institute of Technology Bandung (ITB), recently participated in a joint studio to study the informal settlement of Lebak Siliwangi in Bandung, the Indonesian capital of West Java province.

Currently in its third-year, the studio has been listed by UN-Habitat as one of a suite of innovative global urban solutions contributing to making better cities. The students case studies and planning solutions are the subject of a new exhibition, The Form of the Informal, which opened at the School of Architecture, Design and Planning last night. Dr Yayan Mulyana, Consul-General of the Republic of Indonesia attended the opening event. “Indonesia needs to better understand how to tackle informal settlements, including how to manage and how to develop them. I believe the students’ joint project and research will make a significant contribution to Indonesia in tackling the issue,” said Dr Mulyana.

Working in groups, 23 master’s students from the University's Urban and Regional Planning, Urban Design and Architecture programs immersed themselves in an urban kampung (village) in Bandung from 17 to 26 February 2017. They spent nine intensive days studying and understanding the population, urban structure and governance of Lebak Siliwangi.

“It was a great experience to be able to apply our study to a real-world project, particularly in a different context to Australia. It offered a different perspective of how I understand planning. I have discovered how planning theory is challenged by the complexity of urban form,” said Sydney student Boonnita Vivatananukul.

Sydney students worked closely with ITB students to understand how informal urbanism occurs and how it can be adapted by formal planning systems over time. They spent much time surveying, mapping and talking to the local community to identify ways of improving services, infrastructure, housing and governance.

“The ability to work closely with ITB students and staff in a joint studio was invaluable; they were very generous with sharing knowledge and insights into the local history, context and challenges, and made us feel incredibly welcome throughout the week,” said student Brendan Mutron.

Associate Professor Paul Jones, Team Leader of the joint studio collaboration said, “The model of teaching and learning in the joint work was based on developing ‘learning alliances’ with all interested stakeholders and communities. This includes student to student, academics to academics, and city government and community representatives sharing knowledge and learning about how to resolve difficult and problematic issues. The joint ITB studio is founded on this principle, and in 2017, involved three new universities participating in the studio”.

Through a combination of studio and fieldwork, students and the local community identified concerns about the vertical tower solutions now emerging as an answer to slum and kampung upgrading. Many social and livelihood concerns have emerged as resident’s fear being evicted or asked to move to vertical high rise towers, completely different to their current way of living in ground floor low scale kampungs.