Whispers of the City (Bandung, Indonesia)

Written by : Qhawarizmi Norhisham & Yasmin Rahman

This paper is written as a result of our 6days stay in Bandung, Indonesia.

The evaluation of psychological access in Bandung takes separate but related activities, events or scenarios that happens daily. These fragments of acts make up the whole city ambience, character and psychological state of the urban condition.
The analysis is conducted solely based upon author’s personal experience, literature studies and research. It is relative in nature and limited to the author’s knowledge.

Incision One
The city of Maze of Goods

In this city where goods are sold you are greeted with a great access into the building. In Pasar Baru, both escalators at the main entrance are moving masses of people up into the first floor of the building.

But there is a twist, when a soul decide to exit the complex, there is only one escalator that goes down to the exit, and it is located at the far end of the north wing. This psychologically forces visitors resort to longer route out. The mall traps customers so that they stay and walk longer in the mall.

But despite the market being a maze, customers are still willing to go there as they can grab cheap items. In this complex of 10 storeys, an array of facilities filled the complex to make sure the visitors are comfortable. Crowning this pyramid of goods is a mosque with the capacity of 800 people.

Every second that passed, goods where traded in and out of the complex.

The circulation in Pasar Baru forms a grid planning. The visitors are guided through the narrow alleys simply by their eyesight. The consumers are left confused in the maze of piling goods, they are forced to go around the floors of the maze only to see the same shop over and over again. Eventually they will buy unnecessary items, after constant bombardment of visual persuasion and irresistible bargains of price offers.

Incision Two
The city of Wheeled Fleets

In the city, there are fleets of cabins on wheels that roam the streets. Downhill, Uphill, Alun-Alun, they are everywhere. These cabins seem to looked like a dismembered train with colours marks on their body bearing the symbol of their routes. These colours literally flags around the city from the break of dawn until the sun rest in the west.

Their operation is some what chaotic, yet in order. Both in the same time. It is a sophisticated orchestra of cabins that move and stop in the scale of a city. The people are able to jump off anywhere and go on board one of these cabin anywhere. The urbanites will pay the cabin operator as they see appropriate with their ‘stay’ in the cabin.

The operators of these cabins have the drive to be efficient and offer their service to every soul that found walking at the edge of the street. By the end of the day, they have to collect enough fee to pay for their cabin’s rent, and to feed their families.

There are parasites that flocking these cabins on the street, especially when the cabin is full with patrons.

Performers of the street jump on and off the cabins and perform a song to the patrons. They see each cabin door as an opportunity to obtain ‘wage’ as they entertain the patrons. The patrons will eventually give some change, but not entirely because they are enterteined, as most of the time they are ignoring the performer.

Incision Three
The city of Hidden Treasure

treasure one
Vehicular access in the city of Bandung is very much different due to the high density of traffic.

Due to this dense traffic network, all parking spaces within the city come with the assistance of a traffic coordinator. Weather you park or reverse your vehicle, there will be a guy, either with a formal jumpsuit or just an everyday jack helping you maneuver your car in and out of the parking spot. All drivers pay these people a sum of money as a token of appreciation.

treasure two
There is always a pile or two unwanted materials lying around th e road in the city. Rubbish bins become an item of sustenance as the poor search every bin in the city for items that they can resell or reuse. This becomes a mean of access for income in a place the rest of the world would not even bother to look.

treasure three
There is a constant offer of goods and food when walk along the streets of the city. They push you on your nerves or make ease to find something (depends). After a while, you might get annoyed and try to avoid bumping into them.

The route you take will differ as your path evolves into a much different and longer route. This clearly reflects the hardship of life of the Bandung people which are simply stuck in an economical depression. This is a treasure hidden in each individual that try to make pass the day for a bowl of porridge when he reside home. power of will.

Final Incision
The city of Two Cities

The formation of the city of Bandung dates back to the colonial urban planning. With reference to their own cities back home in Europe, these cities are formulated to mimic the working of the home cities of colonial power. Even though an urban plan was laid through, the continuation of the fabric is heavily based upon local interpretation and understanding of urban planning. The continuation of the urban fabric is rather intuitive and spontaneous influenced by the pressure of living, local issues and economical potentials.

Here in Bandung, the city is rather fragmented. It is not the natural working of the cities that somehow fragmentized the city, but rather the fragmentation is designed in such a way it is a means of control. Clustered.

The deep block of urban grain in Bandung is based upon a cluster system of urban placement. A direct reflection of social and economical hierarchy that can clearly be seen in the scale and quality of space.

The formation of these clusters date back to the Dutch planning system that separates urban function. Commercial, Production, Administartion, etc.

The social and economical strata comes hand in hand in the society of Bandung. As the situation is heavily reflected on the physical development of the city. The city possesses a clear demarcation of two sub cities, that amalgamate into one through a complex symbiosis relationship. The city that serves (villages) and the city that is being served (city)

During the colonial time, the villages has a Ducth master, now poverty reign the villages. The villages lies in the belly of the each city cluster . Thus compaction is unavoidable as population rises in the future in the city. With the rapid vertical development of the city, the village is getting denser at a very fast rate. With an exceptional population growth, both forms of natural growth of foreign migration, Bandung has become very dense in many parts of the cities, especially in the villages.

The uneven population distribution in the city results in subpar living quality in the villages. With only 9% open public space to serve the entire city, the population suffers from the lack of public interaction and healthy social development.

Conclusion
When would the two cities finally resolve its conflicts? Or both cities will continue to reside side by side awkwardly?

What would happen to the evolution of the villages in the future when Bandung will become a major tourist attraction? With the city itself as a stage of its people, the attraction of Bandung will broaden, not only limited to a discounted shopping experience and a volcanic mountain tour, but the city urban condition will become worthy to be experienced and be part of the urban population. This new form of tourism product might be the catalyst that can bring Bandung forward and beyond graded trade.

For more details on Whispers of the City, please visit Urbanology (eBook)

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