between past and future – new forms of design, construction and material cultures

online symposium

1 december 2022


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On 1 December 2022, we held our first online symposium in the framework of the project Dipl.-Ing. Arsitek: German-trained Indonesian Architects from the 1960s. Speakers from Australia, Indonesia, and Germany discussed new forms of design, construction and material cultures.

The contributions were:

Why is building done the way it is done?
Mohammad Nanda Widyarta, Department of Architecture, Universitas Indonesia; PhD candidate at the University of New South Wales, Australia

New concepts for the Indonesian metropolis?
Alwi R. Sjaaf, architect, urban observer, and PhD. candidate in Urban Sociology, Universitas Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia

Towards regenerative cities
Prof. Dr. Philipp Misselwitz, executive director of Bauhaus Earth; Chair, Habitat Unit, Institute of Architecture, Technische Universität Berlin, Germany

Knowing the past is preparing for the future?
Nadia Purwestri, executive director Pusat Dokumentasi Arsitektur PDA (Indonesian Centre for Architecture Documentation), Jakarta, Indonesia

Do we need more experiments?
Imma Anindyta-Hermawan, Dani Hermawan, Formologix Lab, Jakarta, Indonesia

Is every building just waiting for the right use?
Prof. Nanni Grau, HM Hochschule München University of Applied Sciences, Hütten & Paläste Architects, Berlin, Germany

The symposium was moderated by Johannes Widodo, National University of Singapore & mAAN (modern Asian Architecture Network), Singapore.

The 1950s and early 1960s – in the midst of the German “economic miracle” when the Indonesian students featured in Dipl.-Ing. Arsitek were studying architecture in Berlin, Hannover, or Aachen – were characterized by a belief in the promises of modernity: technological progress, growth, prosperity, and a better life for all in a world of endless resources.

Today, 50 years after the Club of Rome’s groundbreaking report, The Limits to Growth, the realization seems to have taken hold that technological progress does not necessarily lead to a better life for all and that our planet’s resources are finite. Furthermore, the construction sector is responsible for almost 40% of harmful CO2 emissions worldwide. This raises a number of questions, some of which we would like to address in this symposium:

Which construction methods and material concepts can point the way to a more sustainable future today? Which design strategies do we need to use and reuse existing buildings – and thus our architectural heritage? And how can we combine different approaches and experiences?