The Movement Begins

Four-story flats ideal: Experts

Prodita Sabarini , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Fri, 10/02/2009 2:22 PM | City

Forget landed houses or high-rise apartments, four-story flats are the best way to accommodate Jakarta’s growing middle-class population, an urban development expert says.

Landed houses take up a lot of land to accommodate a limited number of people, Pelita Harapan University architecture lecturer Elisa Sutanudjaja said recently.

The sprawling suburbs on Jakarta’s outskirts also takes its toll on homeowners working in Jakarta’s business districts, since must spend several hours commuting every day, she said.

Meanwhile, high-rise apartments alienate tenants and are very closed and individualistic, Elisa said.

“Jakarta’s population density has yet to necessitate high-rise apartment accomodation,” she said.

With a population of 9 million in a 662.33-square-kilometer area, Jakarta’s population density is around 13,500 inhabitants per square kilometer, according to data from the Jakarta Central Statistics Agency.

Elisa said that in dense residential areas such as Tomang in West Jakarta and Tebet in South Jakarta, flats or town houses would be a better solution than conventional housing.

She said that the public should look to “cluster in one area.” “Rather than using one 250-square-meter plot for one family, it could be developed for four *families*,” she said.

While the rich can purchase more expensive houses in Jakarta’s upmarket residential areas, and the government subsidizes low-cost apartments for the poor, the options for middle-class home buyers have been somewhat limited to landed houses on Jakarta’s outskirts.

The movement of the middle class to suburbs on the outskirts could slowly kill the city center at night, Elisa said.

Meanwhile, continuous speculative and inefficient development of suburbs will also increase environmental degradation through air pollution and the eating of land, she said.

The public could independently begin this movement, since not many property developers have built flats in Jakarta yet, Elisa said.

Urban community website rujak.org contributor Andrea Fitrianto wrote in his article on four-story flats for families that “voluntary densification” would increase tenure security, making tenants more resilient to eviction.

“There will be more open spaces truly for the public that are utilized and managed together by residents,” he wrote.

Public spaces in high-rise apartments, such as lobbies, elevators, stairways and corridors, are managed by apartment managers, Andrea said.

“It is generally understood that these spaces create social segregation,” he said.

High-rise apartments also isolate children and the elderly from open spaces and nature, at ground level, Andrea said.

Rujak.org is currently holding a contest to design a four-story block of flats to be built on a 245-square-meter site in Menteng, Jakarta.

Elisa, who also works as an editor at rujak.org, which stands for ruang Jakarta (Jakarta space), said one of the founders of the group had decided to develop his residence using the four-story residential concept.

The flats would be a pilot project, Elisa said.

Registration for the contest ends on Oct. 20, and the deadline for designs is Nov. 20.

“Hopefully, next year construction will begin,” Elisa said.

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