Adam Bobbette, Meredith Miller, and Etienne Turpin have recently published “Jakarta: Design Research and the Futures of Hypercomplexity,” in Monu #17 – Next Urbanisms, Fall 2012. 

You can find the full text here

Navigating The Postnatural Exhibition Opening, November 17

NAVIGATING THE POSTNATURAL EXHIBITION                                                             

17 Nov – 10 Dec 2012

Salt & Cedar  2448 Riopelle St.  Eastern Market  Detroit



The Architecture + Adaptation: Design for Hypercomplexity Research Initiative, organized by Professor Meredith Miller and Dr. Etienne Turpin of Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Michigan, examines the intersection of extreme environmental circumstances and creative architectural production. The first research studio of this initiative - INUNDATION Bangkok/Jakarta - placed architecture students from Taubman College into an interdisciplinary exchange with landscape architecture faculty and students from the University of Hong Kong University, and faculty and students from the Universitas Indonesia Faculty of Engineering.  Through a Joint Design Research Workshop, we studied the hydrological infrastructure and attendant social consequences in Bangkok and Jakarta. 

Our site-based research was organized through the tool of the field guide, originally produced during a workshop at Salt & Cedar Letterpress in Detroit. With this tool, our research aimed to develop an image of both city’s hypercomplexities and unstable geographies of water, while specifying the localized effects of the problem to act on them through design.

The exhibition – Navigating the Postnatural – returns the field guides, along with much of our visual documentation and analysis, to the Salt & Cedar Gallery as a means to reconsider the role of the field guide as a book-tool and share some the research and analysis collected from the field. 



Emergent Navigation Techniques:Operating Among Postnatural Ecologies

a conversation with

RICHARD PELL, Director, Center for Postnatural History

ROBB DRINKWATER, Adjunct Professor, Sound Department, School of the Art Institute Chicago

DOUGLAS PANCOAST, Associate Professor, Architecture, School of the Art Institute Chicago

moderated by MEREDITH MILLER


Saturday 17 November, 6-8PM

Salt & Cedar  2448 Riopelle St.  Eastern Market  Detroit

cheap & good food & drink



_ UPCOMING EVENTS from Architecture + Adaptation

Futures of Hypercomplexity

Exhibition of research from INUNDATION Bangkok/Jakarta research studio

Taubman College Gallery

21 Jan - 15 Feb 2013 


Water, Urbanism, and Spatial Justice in Southeast Asia

Interdisciplinary workshop with Dr. Abidin Kusno

15 February, 2013 2-4PM


Lecture on Water, Politics, Design and Southeast Asia

by Dr. Abidin Kusno

Lecture Theatre, A+AB

15 February, 2013 6PM

followed by a closing reception in the Taubman College Gallery

CSEAS Exhibition Opening: Architecture+Adaptation Designing for Hypercomplexity_Friday Sept 14

In honor of Dr. Amnuay and Mrs. Samonsri Viravan in support of the Amnuay-Samonsri Endownment for Thai Studies

Research presentations by U-M faculty and graduate students

Friday September 14
11:00 am - 12:00 pm
1636 SSWB/International Institute 
1080 S University Avenue, Ann Arbor

Exhibition Opening: Architecture+Adaptation Designing for Hypercomplexity

A display of research on water and the built environment in Asian megacities, conducted by a team of students and faculty at the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning 

Friday September 14
12:00 pm - 12:30 pm
1636 SSWB/International Institute 
Exhibit: 1644 SSWB/International Institute
Exhibit to run though October 26.

Welcome Luncheon
Friday September 14
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
1636 SSWB/International Institute 
1080 S. University Avenue, Ann Arbor

The Jakarta Post / World universities present urban plans for a better Jakarta

Site 6 Proposition_Exchange: Coalescing Infrastructures, Resources, Publics


Central Jakarta exhibits the ultimate confluence of systems—expanding road infrastructures, intense land speculation, and ever-evolving water systems. The site encompassing Menteng and the northern area of Manggarai is a node through which the local and regional systems may be understood. The Ciliwung River, flowing northward through the water basin that encompasses a central slit of Jabodetabek, reflects challenges apparent for Jakarta as well as its surrounding cities; sewage, organic and inorganic waste, and toxic chemicals contaminate the water network long before reaching the borders of Jakarta. Within the context of the Ciliwung River, West Banjir Canal, and Menggarai Lock, this research explores potential scenarios to answer the following questions: How and what may be implemented into Jakarta’s canal network as an instigator to facilitate cleaner water at the scale of the citizen, neighborhood, and mega-region? In a complex actor network where government and local players interact and communicate solely through the infrastructure, how could systemic intervention cause citizens to develop a deeper relationship with the water?

UMich: David De Cespedes, Elizabeth Nichols

HKU: Viola Zhang, Anita Jue Yan

UI: Shinta Hadianti Mecca Dina, Klara Puspa Indrawati

Site 5 Proposition_Lift and Separate


Warakas acts as an island within the city of Jakarta. It is bordered by the Tanjung Priok Port to the west and north with rail and highway corridors encasing it’s southern and eastern borders.  The northern and eastern boundary line will continue to be physically reinforced by the imminent construction of a highway network which will circumvent Warakas, physically cutting off the neighborhood from its surroundings.

Warakas’ island nature continues to be emphasized by the sole water system running through the site, the Kota River, with a dead-end, connecting river, the Buntu River. It runs south from the port to a reservoir southwest of the site which also take water from nearby systems.  Warakas is low lying having been built on a swamp, but when inundation does occur it mostly happens from precipitation during the rainy season and only lasts for a few days. The higher elevated port located between Jakarta bay and Warakas acts as a buffer preventing tidal flooding.

Our design proposal for Warakas seeks to react to the rainwater and its inundating effects in the area, although temporary. Finding clean usable water for drinking or household uses in Jakarta is a constant struggle and this is especially true in Warakas, where most residents are priced out of bottled water leaving the only viable safe option to be buying the water from Bogor that is brought in twice a week and filtered on site. This clean water is scarce though and frequently runs out. Our design proposal seeks to react to the scarcity of water by adding a new water economy on-site. Using the dense urban fabric of the neigbourhood as an advantage, the design stiches together the roof scapes of different houses within the same block. the stitching process includes an elevated walk way containing pipes to move the water in the rainy season into retention tanks located in each block.

The retention tanks are located in structures of the same building typology that is currently existing. The intent is to not introduce a foreign aesthetic within the site that is readibly apparent, for the island nature of the site is typified by systems of defense within individual neighborhoods and close-knit ties to community peoples.  The collected water will then be cleaned and sold to the community similar to other bottling and water cleaning operations that are on-site.  

The drainage network on the roofs will also serve as a walkway network connecting segregated neighborhoods to each other. Walkways are the primary public space in Jakarta, thus the elevated network seeks to capitalize on this drainage network to produce more communal connections and moments of interaction.  It will further the cleaning operations on the rivers as well.  Bridging over the rivers will allow space for workers with rubbish baskets to lift trash flowing in the river.  As a part of this occupation, trash is often reused especially plastic bottles and jugs.  The bottles and jugs are cleaned and then used for refilling.  The trash economy will only further assist the operation of selling rainwater as it will provide containers.

The intent of this system is to provide another water source economy into the area while alleviating sidewalk congestion, link spaces, and continue to enhance water quality operations that are already existing on-site.

UMich: Josh Kehl, Nate Oppenheim

HKU: Sherman Sum Chi Ho

UI: Didha Igasi Marindra, Nadhila Adelina

Site 4 Proposition

Tanjung Priok

UMich: Lucas Bartosiewicz, John Hilmes

HKU: Tiffany Szeto, Monica Ng Tsz

UI: Moh. Fazrin Rahman, Kresna Patrian

Site 3 Proposition


UMich: John Ewanowski, Allen Gillers

HKU: Nancy Wong, Kayla Yang

UI: Meidesta Pitria, Yudha Kartana Putra

Site 2 Proposition_Water Economies: Re-Distribution through Rainwater Harvesting


Large mega-complexes, which are commercial and economic hubs for the city, and residential communities, which are directly adjacent, receive water in two distinct ways in Glodok; tap water, and water delivered in jugs via trolley. However, both sources ultimately stem from PAM JAYA. As this monopoly precludes any notion of redundancy, and therefore security in water delivery for the large scale complexes and small scale communities in Glodok, we believe this risk is where the designer can add value by recognizing and harnessing another water source. Utilizing the rainwater run-off from the large complexes, filtering out acidity, and collecting it for use in the event of PAM JAYA’s deficiency, presents the dual immediate benefits of reduced pumping loads out of the drainage canals, and of financial returns by selling this excess water. This source of water frees the trolley operators from their current tether to a single water source, and by putting the power in the hands of the distributors, the social network of often geographically sparse delivery points is much more effectively accommodated. Rainwater nodes and the existing water tank nodes amplify the power of the distribution network, adding redundancy, greater efficiency, and providing a platform for interaction between the very distinct scales and interests of the commercial and residential.

UMich: Andrew Kaczmarek, Geoffrey Salvatore

HKU: Karmung Sze

UI: Feby Hendola, Nia Suryani, Nur Fatina Risinda

Site 1 Proposition_Bubble Park Trash Gate Hyacinth Pulp Factory

Muara Baru + Waduk Pluit

After our expanded site visit to Waduk Pluit and Muara Baru we decided to focus our design intervention around the Pluit, its supporting systems and surrounding context. We had two main issues in mind. First was how to deal with the large amount of trash flowing through the site and ultimately out to Jakarta Bay. Second, we wanted to maintain or expand the capacity of the Pluit. Consequently our proposal can be looked at as a symbiotic relationship of two parts - one an expanded system of clearing trash and then oxygenating the water flowing through the river to the Pluit - the second is the creation of a ‘market street’ that links a new pier and paper/fiber board factory that uses hyacinth harvested from the Pluit to make its products.

For dealing with trash we proposed two additional trash gates be installed further upstream from our site. These would be staffed by individuals and operate as the flow of water, i.e. trash, increased during rain events. We know from our research the water contains a high nutrient load from the large amount of grey and black water systems emptying into the canals and rivers. The water is also low in dissolved oxygen which means flora and fauna struggle to exist in the water. We proposed two ‘Bubble Parks’ where seesaws, carousels and other pieces of playground equipment were repurposed to power pumps pushing air into underwater blowers and above water fountains. Ultimately with the removal of trash and the increase of dissolved oxygen we hope to have trash-free, nutrient rich water flowing into Waduk Pluit thereby creating a hyper-eutrophic condition. This sets up the second part of our proposal - by generating this condition we hope to amplify the growth of Water Hyacinth in the Pluit creating a viable source of raw fiber for a medium scale paper factory located North of Luar Batang next to Sunda Kelapa. The introduction of this factory and its subservient economies is further amplified by the creation of a ‘market street’ connecting the factory to the pier. We see this corridor as a place of transaction (to borrow from Simone - see earlier post) where the various actors involved in the sale, movement and processing of the raw material invites ancillary markets. However, we also believe that by carving out free and open public space we create an area where various parties can meet, gather, discuss and trade perspectives. If the system of hyper-eutrophication and Hyacinth production is successful we hope the city of Jakarta could possibly gain a system of usable raw water on its Northern edge that can be pumped, filtered and cleaned to be used by the local community as an alternative to the reliance on groundwater extraction, thereby mitigating the threat of flood from continuing subsidence.

UMich: Catharine Pyenson, Jared Heming

HKU: Huang Feng, Yang Peng

UI: Leta Lestari, Mikhail Johanes, Miktha Farid

Final Design Review and Exhibition

If a built environment is a plurality of materialized efforts undertaken by different kinds of actors, the subsequent environment that is built is either conducive of or prohibitive of certain kinds of speech and interactions. If architects see themselves as concerned with the design of the built environment then that task has to include the kinds of sentiments and efforts that have produced that built environment in the first place and the implications of that built environment on the kinds of potentialities made possible from those that affliate, occupy or use them. These issues are design issues and political issues. They are the politics of design.

- AbdouMaliq Simone

Architecture + Adaptation

JAKARTA: Designing for Hypercomplexity


University of Michigan

University of Hong Kong

Universitas Indonesia

Ruangrupa Jakarta

/ 14 JUNE 2012 /


10.00 Welcome, Opening Remarks

10.15 Introduction

10.30 - 13.00 Student Presentations + Discussion

13.00 - 14.00 Break

14.00 - 16.30 Student Presentations + Discussion

16.30 Closing Remarks


Meredith Miller, Assistant Professor

Etienne Turpin, Ph.D., Sanders Research Fellow

Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning

University of Michigan


Adam Bobbette, MA, MLA

Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture,

Faculty of Architecture

Division of Landscape Architecture

The University of Hong Kong


Farid Rakun, Cranbrook Academy of Art



Professor of Architecture

Faculty of Architecture

Universitas Indonesia

Diane Wildsmith, AIA, RIBA

Visiting Assistant Professor

Faculty of Architecture

Universitas Indonesia


Arum Kusumawardhani, Universitas Indonesia



This public exhibition and design review is the culmination of the Joint Design Research Workshop - ‘Jakarta: Designing for Hypercomplexity’ - with Taubman College, Universitas Indonesia, Hong Kong University, and Ruangrupa Jakarta. 

Examining the intersections of extreme environmental circumstances and creative architectural production, this collaborative workshop focused on Jakarta’s relationship to its water, particularly how this highly-dense metropolis responds to the regular and damaging occurrence of inundation. Students documented the constituent forces and effects that pose challenges to normative architectural production. Relying heavily on situated research and observation through visual production, they conducted intensive site-based research and produce visual documentation and analysis of inundation effects on urban and architectural compositions.

The primary aim for this design research initiative is to locate potentialmoments for architecture to intervene, as a mediation, adaptation, or coordination within circumstances that operate at such a large scale and level of complexity that architecture tends to be disregarded as a potential agent of inuence. As architecture struggles to end ways to exercise agency through socially and environmentally responsible practices, and as the discipline attempts to reorganize its commitments in the face ecological crises, “Jakarta: Designing for Hypercomplexity” mobilizes collaborative, engaged, situated research to advance the pedagogical model of architecture education beyond the studio, and to build new connections for architecture research today. More broadly, the design research works to define architecture’s potential agency within metropolitan and environmental hypercomplexities, which we understand as the compound instabilities brought about by climate change, human migration, failing infrastructure, population migration, and erratic political economic forces, among other dynamic factors.

On display are the results of the three-week collaborative design charrette with six interdisciplinary design teams with members from each University working on six sites in Jakarta: Glodok, Tanjung Priok, Warakas, Menteng, Ancol, and Muara Baru/Waduk Pluit.

Thanks to faculty, students, and staff of the Universitas Indonesia and the Department of Architecture for their generosity in hosting this intensive workshop and supporting this collaborative research.

Pulau Seribu_Thousand Islands

After a few weeks of studio work and site documentation in the smog and heat of Jakarta, the A+A team retreated to the regency of Pulau Seribu (Thousand Islands) for some R+R.  The archipelago of around 130 islands - extending north from Jakarta into the Java Sea - is undergoing a profound transformation from quiet Indonesian fishing enclave to international ecotourism destination.  We enjoyed the white sandy beaches, crystal clear water and got acquainted with the local marine life around the abundant coral reefs (sea turtles, rays, parrotfish, sea urchins).  We concluded our trip with a visit to the archaeological site of Onrust Island - a Dutch fortification just off the coast of Jakarta used for shipping transfers and eventually the quarantine of pilgrims returning from the Hajj.

(Photo: ET)

Class is in session.

Even for experienced snorkelers, uniform application of SPF can prove a challenge.  (Photo: AG)

Baby Island.

Quarantine barracks for pilgrims returning from the Hajj.  Onrust Island.  (Photos: JRH)

Site 1: Kota + Luar Batang_Second Visit

After our initial site visit and observations, plus a closer examination of the World Bank JEDI Plan, we realized the importance of the large reservoir called Waduk Pluit just east of our given site boundary. For our return visit we decided to expand our area of interest and mapped out a walking tour to investigate the reservoir, the edge conditions and ancillary control structures. It might be fair to say our experiences can be grouped into two categories – water levels and trash. Let’s begin with trash.

(Credit: JOH)

As one of two outlets for the Ciliwung River our site receives a lot of solid waste from upstream. One of the ways the city tries to control the trash is with Surface Cleaners. Essentially, men punt downstream gathering the trash on the leading edge of their rafts. They then maneuver it to a collection point along the bank where it’s gathered onto trucks and hauled to landfill. The trash that isn’t caught by the Surface Cleaners carries on to a mechanical trash grate just south of Muara Baru close to the inlet of Waduk Pluit. Here we interviewed the workers on site as well as a family of recyclers and discovered that the volume of trash varies significantly with rainfall – almost a fourfold increase when it’s wet over when it’s dry.

(Credit: JOH) 

A woman picks through trash the city collects for recyclables.

(Credit: CP) 

Just beyond the trash grate is a dam controlling the water level entering Waduk Pluit. We continued along the east edge into the informal settlement of Muara Baru - originally built over the shallow waters of the reservoir the piles are now thick with solid waste.

(Credit: CP)

(Credit: CP)

(Credit: CP)

(Credit: CP)

At the northern most edge of Muara Baru we came across the construction of a large pumphouse being funded by the Japanese. In talking with the workers and observing the site we discovered that the entire Pluit, Muara Baru and Luar Batang lie below mean sea level. The new pumphouse is designed to pump water from the Pluit over the sea wall. This will replace the current pump system which pushes water underground and up into the sea, as a consequence, rising sea level has increased the back pressure on the pump to the point where the level of the Pluit can never be greater than 4 meters below sea level – thereby reducing the water retention capacity of the Pluit. It seems large infrastructure investments are being made in conjunction with the dredging undertaken in the World Bank plan.

Site 2: Glodok_Observations

During our second week of visiting the Glodok site, we sought to find the source of the ubiquitous water trolleys that we observed around the district during our first visit. At the direction of Mr. Andreas, the water management supervisor at Plaza Glodok, we explored the Northeast area of the site to find the first of three fresh water storage tanks.  At these three water source locations, local water trolley operators fill up water jugs with the supplied running water to distribute throughout the neighborhood.  Each water source is controlled by a different tank manager and has accordingly different pricing, policies and quality standards.

In a nutshell, the water trolley operators serve as a home delivery system for water in order to provide the Kampungs around Glodok Market with water to cook, bathe, and clean.  This water is not potable, but is a necessity for the areas where the existing architecture does not facilitate easy pipe retrofitting and the groundwater supply is saline due to the district’s close proximity to Java Bay. 

In order to keep track of how much water each trolley operator is taking, they mark the number of trolleys full of water they remove from the source each day.

The water storage tanks must carry certification of their water source.  The Glodok water storage tanks all are sourced from the Pejompongan Water Treatment Plant operated by water PAM Jaya.

The water trolley delivery method for fresh water is compelling due to the entrepreneurial water economies that develop from its existence.  While all water tank managers buy their water from the same source, PAM Jaya [one of the two private providers of running fresh water within the Jakarta region] they each charge different amounts for this resource.  This pricing effects how the water trolley operators function within the neighborhood.  Secondly, the water trolley operators are all in competition with each other as they base their routes not on geographic proximity or territory but rather their own social networks. This makes their client base robust and provides them a steady source of income. 

The second fresh water storage tank in the Mangga Besar neighborhood of the Glodok area.  At this location, the water trolley operators had connected a simple plastic pipe and valve to the storage tank to aid the the “jerigen,” or water jug, filling process, and protect against contamination they had observed in their water facility.

During the process of filling the water jugs, there is often much waste.  However, because water purchasing is based on a per jug or trolley basis there is little incentive to conserve the water supply.  We even observed the trolley operators bathing with water the removed from the pure fresh water storage tank.

In order to deliver the “jerigen” water jugs the water trolley operators must often dodge automobile and motorcycle traffic while negotiating their heavy cargo. 

(Photos: GS)

Site 2: Glodok_Interview

(Photo: GS)

During our second visit to Glodok, we met with Mr. Andreas, the water management supervisor at Plaza Glodok, one of the large commercial electronics centers.  He was able to explain to us how the larger formal developments within the area get their water, from PAM Jaya, the same source as the water that the Water Trolley Operators use.  However, Mr. Andreas’ large site pays 12.5 Rupiah per Liter, and the Trolley Operators paid 6.25 Rupiah per Liter at two of the water sources visited.

(Photo: KS)

Mr. Andreas explained how the four pumping stations keep the Plazas grounds dry under normal conditions by evacuating water up and into the adjacent canal three times a day. Each station has 2 pumps; the station shown above is equipped with a 29kW and a 7kW, the other three stations with a 10kW and a 7kW. The double pumps insure that if the main pump fails the smaller can at least keep the water flowing. These pumps run three times a day normally, and run continually during rain, but the system was overloaded in both the 2002 and 2007 floods.

The canal running along side the Plaza Glodok complex would, in Mr. Andreas’ opinion, help prevent issues with flooding, but when slated for dredging in 2005, the equipment arrived at the canal, only to be officially photographed and promptly removed without any actual dredging taking place. Although this portion of the canal is not a part of the world bank plan, this anecdote certainly calls to question accountability and whether the proposed dredging can be realistically expected.