Surabaya | kampung Kebalen

kampung Kebalen | Surabaya, July 4, 2011

On July 4, MovingCities explored the kampung Kebalan in the center of Surabaya. We discovered canals, containers and even a wedding ceremony. This kampung was the recipient of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, 1986, due to the implementation of the Surabaya Kampung Improvement Programme which started in 1981. 30 years later it becomes clear that the effect of the improvement programma can be felt, but also that they are in need of adjustment in relation to the 21st century urban ambitions of Surabaya.

Almost one-quarter of the city area of Surabaya, an industrial metropolis with a population of about 2.5 to 3 million, is covered by kampungs. Home to low-income population, many of them are just an spatial arrangement of densely packed single-storey wooden houses within networks of narrow alleys. Throughout the past few years programs has been set in motion to bring footpaths, drainage, water and sanitation to these parts of town. Today the ambition to change the perception of these areas as squatter towns in the heart of the city. The general context of the Kampung Improvement Program in Surabaya is explained as following:

Through the Kampung Improvement Program (KIP), the basic urban services have been introduced to most of theses areas. Government officially acknowledge the existence of the kampungs as an integral part of the city housing system. Improvement in the housing units of the residents of the kampungs were significant. The average housing area occupied by each of the residents, that is, the per capita housing area, is over 15 square meter and most of the houses are owner occupied. Surabaya was the first city in Indonesia to implement a pre-war Kampung Improvement Program.

Surabaya section | map

Surabaya section | Kampung Kebalen

The question today is how to establish a second wave of the successful and acclaimed Kampung Improvement Programme [winner of the 1992 World Habitat Awards]?
A short history:

The Kampung Improvement Programme originally started in the 1920s when action was taken to prevent the spread of disease from the kampungs to the neighbouring better-off residential districts. Today’s extensive programme in Surabaya was started in 1969 and it has currently improved 70 per cent of the kampungs in the city. Although such improvement programmes are taking place throughout Indonesia, those in Surabaya are unusual in the strength of the partnership that has developed between the low-income communities and the municipal authorities.

Today, almost thirty years later, one understands that the focus on the regeneration of the kampungs lays in connecting these different urban elements with each other. The corners of the different kampung areas in Surabaya are being eaten up by shopping-malls, office towers, and in the case of kampung Kebalen, by containers and shipping related industries. These massive constructions redirect and change the traffic patterns inside of the kampungs and its connection with the rest of the urban tissue.

If the focus in the past was on creating a “comprehensive neighbourhood programme” and “involving the local community in the process” one has to understand this as a rescue operation, a way to survive. With that secured, but being constantly under treat of road extension programs and real-estate developments, the future of Surabaya seems to need to deal with the question of physical and non-physical connections between the kampungs.

Kampung Kebalen | Surabaya, July 4, 2011

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