Building On Trash In Jakarta

Over the years we’ve seen many types of waste management that contribute to a better living environment. However, in Jakarta garbage is recycled in a quite special way. Here, the waste from the Ciliwung River is stored alongside the water, creating foundations for the poor to build their homes on.

The capital of Indonesia is very densely populated. Due to the lack of space poor people, who cannot afford a decent place in the city, live on the riverbeds of the Ciliwung River. These settlements are constantly exposed to subsidence and flooding. The embankments of the river are made out of waste, deposited by both the polluted river as by the numerous people living there. They take a bath in the river, use the water to wash their clothes, and they dump their garbage in it as well.

Ciliwung River

In order to improve the quality of the water and the riverbeds at the same time, the local community and many volunteers collected waste of the Ciliwung River and re-used it to strengthen and broaden the riverbeds where people are living. This way frequent floods are prevented from destroying the lives of the poor people — quite an inventive way of dealing with trash. Meanwhile, many other movements have emerged and organizations are involved with the revitalization of the living environment alongside the river.

Christophe Girot, the Architektur und Städtebau department of ETH Zürich, and Future Cities Laboratory Singapore have all worked on this challenge in Jakarta. The riverbed and the related residential space of the Kampung Melayu settlement was redesigned in order to give more space to the river and to create new public spaces at the same time. The project is currently exhibited at the Kunsthal in Rotterdam as part of this year’s International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR).

Photo Courtesy
© ETH Zürich

IABR 2014

Pop-Up City is official media partner of the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam 2014. In the coming months we’re making an article series about the best the IABR has to offer.