Jakarta | slow skyline

Jakarta | June 25, 2011

When MovingCities landed in Jakarta on June 22, the city celebrated its 484th birthday. In the three years that passed since our last visit, the city’s skyline has barely changed. Steady, but not spectacularly. Impressions from a colossally slow skyline city.

Three years ago, when standing on Jakarta’s rooftops we pondered about the city as a being that was constantly changing, constantly being different from one angle to the other. A city that was hard to grasp and constantly unrecognizable:

As if Jakarta is a jungle of planning juxtapositions, an urban condition located in the urban researcher’s blind spot. A place outside the rigid realm of planning giving way to a mash-up metropolis of architectural styles, a collection of attempts to implement a diversity of urban policies.

Today the feeling of Jakarta being an unrecognizable urban entity has become familiar. That is probably because Jakarta is an everlasting state of urban unfinishedness. Everything seems to go forward – that is with exception of the traffic – but nothing really progresses. The feeling of a future unfinished is still the same. The difference with the Chinese city, as we know and experience it, is becoming clear: here big projects are executed, that is for sure, but not in a rapid and drastic manner. In Jakarta, vacant lots are here to stay for a while, and not for a few month, like is the case in China, but for years, if not decades. Here, construction cranes are absent when scanning the city’s skyline.

Pictures by movingcities.org

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