This article was published on Akarumput.com Part. 1 and Part. 2
“Love Indonesian Products, If Possible 100%”
This message is written in chalk on a wall on the outside of the
kitchen. The folding windows make the kitchen feel like a traditional warung (an Indonesian food stall). The glasses, pots, cutting board, kettle, and an irus, a traditional tool for mixing food from coconut husk, are arranged hanging above.
The warung vibe is even more complete with a long bamboo bench
positioned outside the kitchen. Inside, discarded drink crates of yellow
and red are arranged as storage space for kitchen spices and food.
The kitchen is located next to the main entrance to Akanoma Studio.
Yu Sing Lim (35 years old) along with Benyamin Narkan, Anjar Primasetra,
Peter Antonius, Iwan Gunawan, Wilfrid, and Yopie Herdiansyah use a joglo
building (a traditional wooden Javanese building) as their main studio
space. The joglo has been raised on stilts, similar to traditional house
designs in Kalimantan.
Inside, the space is open with no separators. Tables are arranged
next to each other with computers on top of them. The architects work
from this studio in a homey atmosphere. The four pillars inside the
joglo multi-function as shelving for books. Old plastic containers,
which were used for storing vegetables at the market, have been
reclaimed and are used as shelving to store documents.
Bamboo is very visible within the studio design. The plans seem to
optimize the flexibility and strength of bamboo. Besides used as floor
mats, larger bamboo poles make up the columns of the building.
The use of bamboo is also visible along the walls of rooms towards
the back of the studio. There is room to meet with clients, a sleeping
area for staff, and guest rooms which are closed with bamboo poles of
different sizes positioned both vertically and horizontally, some as
small as your finger and others the width of an outstretched adult hand.
This two-story building constructed at 700 meters above sea level can
be seen towering within the village. The studio itself is built over
650 square meters of land. Far from the city, it is located on Jalan
Tipar Timur, Laksana Mekar Village, Padalarang, in West Bandung. The
location is closer to the Purbaleunyi toll (Purwakarta-Bandung-Cileunyi)
than it is to Bandung city. “This location was chosen because our
financing is limited,” explains Yu Sing.
Previously, Yu Sing contracted a house as his studio space. However,
the cost of the contract was not cheap. At the same time, Iwan,
Akanoma’s drafter, was searching for land and was offered a plot west of
Bandung city. “He was looking for land and came across a large plot. So
we decided to share it between the three of us and the studio was built
using the least expense possible,” says Yu Sing.
The main studio component is the joglo, which on its peak is adorned with two chicken statues from Solo. “We moved the joglo here after purchasing it months ago. We didn’t have enough money to build an office. When we bought the joglo, we didn’t yet have plans to build an office,” explained the author of the book Mimpi Rumah Murah (Dreaming of Inexpensive Housing).
Akanoma studio in a way no represents Yu Sing as an architect. He believes architecture must have roots. For Yu Sing, using a joglo, modified with bamboo, as the main building component represents the current role of architecture in Indonesia.
“I have a dream to create a sustainable city village, to slow the
trend of villages being displaced and becoming victims of development.
People should have a permanent village where they can live prosperously
and comfortably. Our studio is in the village, so we provide a library
and social space for the surrounding residents to use,” says Yu Sing,
referring to the porch area and public library located underneath his
Unfortunately, Yu Sing explains, the local community has not yet used
this social space for their meetings. “If they need it, they are
welcome to use the space. What is being used now is the public library,
almost every afternoon kids come to read books here. The books in are
library are mostly donated,” he said.
Yu Sing has also taken efforts to make sure the building is
environmentally friendly. This long-haired architect intentionally
extended the roof of the joglo, and attached a number of metal pipes at
an angle in a V shape to create a buffer. These metal pipes are
connected to the gutters around the roof. They function as a buffer, as
well as a rainwater harvesting system by directing rain into a water
Besides being environmentally friendly, Akanoma also makes an effort
to produce their own food by planting vegetables around the studio land.
“We have planted basil, long beans, eggplant, leunca, chili,
cucumber, cassava, cosmos flowers, and more. We also have a pond used to
soak bamboo during the preservation stage, which has an additional
function as a fishpond. We have already harvested Nila fish for food.
Since our studio is quite far away from everything, we usually cook our
meals here” he said.
Reclaimed used materials can be seen in the bathroom. A combination
of used glass bottles and exposed brick wall. Besides functioning as
hanging pens, the bottles also reflect natural light into the bathroom.
Yu Sing also uses bamboo for stairs. “It’s cheap and it’s a great
alternative,” he said. The right stairway towards the front of the
building is enclosed with discarded car windows. The curved windows are
clamped in place then tied to bamboo poles using wire. “We needed that
area to use transparent materials. It turns out in this village there is
a collector of used car windows, so we experimented with them. The cost
was quite inexpensive,” says this architect who graduated from Institut
The down-to-earth Akanoma studio is ever connected with the ideals of
the architect Yu Sing. He believes everyone should have the right to
grow and develop in a house that inspires and is enjoyable.
Unfortunately, the majority of the Indonesian public still considers
architecture services to be only for those who are wealthy. He believes
that the lower and middle class citizens should still be able to work
with architects when building their homes. “The role of an architect in
shaping a house can influence the different sensations of each room,”
says Yu Sung, a fan of the late Yusuf Bilyarta Mangunwijaya, an
architect and humanist who is fondly known by the name Romo Mangun.
Yu Sing’s first ambitions to design a house started when he was asked
to design a house for a colleague’s uncle. With a budget of less than
60 million rupiah (approximately US$ 6.500), Yu Sing took advantage of
reclaimed materials from the old house that was being torn down.
That house, located in Caringin, Bandung, was designed to continually
be developed upon so it can be constructed in stages, depending on the
finances the owner has available. It is a two-story house, which is
useful to conserve land and make sure there is enough green foliage and
water absorption around the building. The walls were built with a
concrete frame to make it earthquake resistant. Fiber cement was used
for the roof, to conserve finances. The roof was also designed to
harvest rainwater, which is then directed through a simple filter system
so that it can be reused.
Another aspect that makes the house unique is that the left over roof
shingles from the old house were used to cover the brick walls of the
new house. The random color scheme on the shingles creates interesting
visual shapes. “I wanted to help with this design, because even I have
difficulty building a house because of limited budget. Since then, I
continued helping build inexpensive houses and began writing about
them,” he said.
At the end of his book, Yu Sing says that one of his dreams is to
design 100 inexpensive houses. “Many people in the lower and middle
class really need the support of architects, but do not have the means
to access these services. I have made a commitment to help with this,”
said Yu Sing.
The published writings on inexpensive housing received an amazing
response. “In the first year alone, over 80 families contacted me,” he
His potential clients came from all over Indonesia, including as far
as Papua and Kalimantan. They would contact Yu Sing via phone and email.
“Of the 80 families, I was involved in constructing about 20 of their
houses, but not all of them were completed. Sometimes it was because
they had used the money allocated for other expenses, so building a
house was delayed,” he explained.
To assist in designing these inexpensive houses, Yu Sing charges a
service fee of three percent of the total project budget. This price
range is applied to all clients building houses with a budget of 250
million rupiah and below. If their budget is higher, they are charged a
fee of 5-7 percent, which is the national standard according to the
Indonesian Architecture Association.
“Even those who have the money don’t always use an architect, let alone the lower class who are building inexpensive houses.”
The architects at Akanoma studio have another concept to help design
an inexpensive house in Dago Giri, Bandung. The new inexpensive house
belongs to Uway, a motorbike transport driver. The construction of the
new house is projected to only require 27 million rupiah (approximately
US$ 3,000). For the design of Uway’s house, Akanoma studio is not
charging a service fee. “It is our commitment that for clients with a
budget of less than 40 million rupiah, we will create the design for
free,” he said.
However, Uway does not have enough money to build this house, and his
current house is not suitable to live in anymore. Together with his
friends, Yu Sing is gathering donations to help Uway build a small
house; the fist floor is only 4 x 6 meters in size.
“We are compiling donations by shopping the design around social
networks. So far we have already started receiving some donations. From
the total goal of Rp27 million, Uway himself has around Rp10 million, so
we only need to collect the remaining cost, which is Rp17 million,”
said Yu Sing.
Once all the donations are compiled and the house is built, Uway will
return the money through installments. The goal is that once the debt
is repaid, it will be used to fund the next inexpensive house project
for people in similar financial situations.
Yu Sing feels a sense of satisfaction through assisting people in
building houses to match their individual characters. The design of one
person’s house is not necessarily right for another person. “A house
design should be strong, and suit the context. This needs to be explored
so the house is inspiring and enjoyable. An extreme example is that a
living space which is too crowded will have an impact on the mentality
and thoughts of those living there,” he said.
To spread similar ideas, Yu Sing has formed a network of architects
from outside of Bandung. This network can help to fulfill requests for
inexpensive houses from people located outside of Bandung. “We now have
friends in Jakarta, Depok, Balikpapan, and Semarang who we can
collaborate with. Ideally we could have networks in every area, so that
the architects can meet with clients, see the location and help oversee
the building process,” said Yu Sing.
The network of architects is managed through Internet communication.
So that when an architect is available to help design and build an
inexpensive house, their work can be easily monitored. “If there is a
senior architect who wants to help and for example can take on three
houses per year, they can simply let us know through their online
status,” he explained.
Yu Sing is optimistic that this concept will work because he believes
within each person there is a passion to share. It is this passion that
has become his approach in his profession. Staying grounded and having a
different approach or being somewhat of an anomaly is an approach which
is spreading benefits to other people.