Jakarta | urban snapshots VI

Jakarta | October 14, 2008

Jakarta, October 10-15. A last series of urban snapshots, Jakarta as seen from and experienced by roaming its rooftops. Standing high-above the city, miniaturizing and monotoring the metropolis, adding a multitude of perspectives to an urban setting that now has become strangely familiar, but constantly unrecognizable, to me, I couldn’t stop thinking that anything, it seems, can happen from now on with Jakarta. 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.

In the past weeks I have tried to get a grip on this city, something which resulted in an intriguing discovery of a, to me, previously unknown metropolis. Seeing Jakarta from its rooftops, endlessness was the word that haunted me during my journey. Scanning the city from the ground, diversity and temporality was all I could experience.

Throughout the past half a century Jakarta seems to have developed in such a drastic manner, and has pushed itself in all directions, thereby building the full back catalogue of urban and architectural strategies and concepts, that it would be awkward and absurd to try to define its character. Is the Jakarta we see today a forebode of an appealing, and possible, other urban future? One at odds with those cities that can be analyzed according to parameters of density, icons, slums and traffic jams. It would be too easy to state that for Jakarta, in the future, anything is still possible. That might be true, but equally necessary it would be to understand what should happen. As intelligent it would be to engage with the problems this city has given rise to, I believe it would be even more intelligent and critical to understand the solutions that have emerged out of this urban condition. Maybe it would be better if nothing would happen at all and see where this state of exception leads to.

View from Oktroi Plaza | October 10

View from Trisakti University | October 14

View from Tarumanagara Univeristy | October 15

Pictures by Bert de Muynck | movingcities.org

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