Handmade Urbanism

In the first week of June, 2013, BCCF was invited to participate in an exhibition and symposium with the theme Smart Cities: The Next Generation at Aedes Network Campus Berlin, Germany. We were asked three questions that determine the “smart” aspects of our city for the exhibition materials:

  1. How does your project “smarten up” your city?
  2. Why does your city need your project and what challenges are country­‐specific to your urban context?
  3. What are the new behaviors your building/planning/initiative encourages?

While working on the answers, we became more convinced that the strength of Bandung is in its proactive citizens who have been interfering with their own habitat, to make it more livable. Our presentation in Berlin included a series of Kampung Kreatif (Creative Kampong/Neighborhood) program and Helarfest 2012, which brought up issues concerning four elements of the city: river, forest, kampong and park. Next to Bandung, there are also other Indonesian cities such as Jakarta and Medan participating in the event. During the event, it was evident that most growing, dense cities in developing countries are facing similar problems due to overpopulation and underdeveloped infrastructures and facilities, of which solutions mostly depend on the survival ability of the inhabitants.

Handmade Urbanism

Handmade Urbanism book and Urban Future CD

On our last day in Berlin, we found a book whose contents resonate what has been done in the local neighborhoods of Bandung. This book, titled Handmade Urbanism, describes the journeys of five world cities that have brought them to receive the Deutsche Bank Award for their civic initiatives: Mumbai, Sâo Paulo, Mexico City, Istanbul, and Cape Town. The book also comes with a CD, titled Urban Future, containing documentary videos of these cities. Each city has its own issues, which received different treatments as well, and they are not always expensive, nor requiring a substantial amount of budgeting and infrastructures. From the stories, we could learn that all things started small – but they got started anyway – whether from a group of people or an individual, from common villagers or planners/architects to public figures, with different backgrounds.

The examples in Handmade Urbanism show results after about 10 years of the interventions, when citizens could already enjoy the results, where social changes are evident and physical improvements are obvious. Kampung Kreatif program in Bandung started in 2012, now not even 1 year old, and – as experienced in all fields – getting started and maintaining the energy and spirit are the most challenging phase. There is still a long way to go, but we are convinced that we can also keep the program going and reach up to such benefits!

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“All over the world, water takes a significant part of a city” – Mumbai

“The problem (of a city) will never be solved if we keep trying to demolish the slum” – Mumbai

“Community-based programs take place and succeed where administration fails” – Mumbai

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“City growth as desired by politicians creates greater tensions among its citizens” – Sâo Paulo

“Small gestures (planting, library, mural, etc.) can help create space and connectedness” – Sâo Paulo

More positive activities > more life security > less crime > less reason to demolish the “slum” – Sâo Paulo

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“Small scale activities and movements can create great changes in a community” – Mexico City

Next to soccer games, gangs also organize graffiti classes, which have lowered the criminal rates – Mexico City

“A change of an urban space can change the attitudes and activities of the local people” – Mexico City

“Improving accessibility for all (citizens) means improving the quality of life” – Mexico City

“A city is more than a place to make money, people need more than roofs above their heads” – Mexico City

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“Teach children to tend a garden, they’ll go home and teach their parents” – Cape Town

“Municipality needs to recognize what has been done at the grass root level, the activism and pro-activeness” – Cape Town

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