Alum Interview: Pak Budi Faisal

By Sophie Hill

The University of Melbourne alum Pak Budi Faisal completed his PHD at the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning in 2002, with his thesis focusing on decentralization and spatial planning in Indonesia.

Pak Budi Faisal
Pak Budi Faisal

Originally from Indonesia, Pak Budi decided to study his PhD at the University of Melbourne due to the institutions’ strong research background relating to architecture, urban development and city planning in the Asia Pacific area, including Indonesia.

He returned to Indonesia and taught at the Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB) until 2005, when he moved into the role of expert advisor for the Ministry of Housing under the first period of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Presidency.

In 2010 he returned to teach at ITB, becoming the Tourism Centre Head at ITB, before being appointed as a member of the Ministry of Tourism’s task force from 2015 to 2017, where the team was asked to create 10 New Tourism Destinations nation-wide in Indonesia.

Currently the Head of the Landscape Architecture Master Study Programme at ITB’s School of Architecture, Planning and Policy Development, he is also the founder of the Urban Landscape Hub (ULH), a research center that focuses on investigating urban development from a landscape and ecological perspective.

He simultaneously runs his own Architecture, Landscape and Master Planning firm, and has most recently received recognition for being one of the five winning projects in the prestigious design competition for a New Indonesia Capital City in East Kalimantan.

How did the New Capital Design Competition come to be?

The competition to move Indonesia’s capital city to East Kalimantan has come about due to increasing concern that Jakarta may not be able to continue to function adequately as both the administrative and business centre of the country. There are a number of issues at play, but perhaps the most alarming is the environmental and ecological issues faced by the city.

Jakarta is increasingly victim to intense flooding, and the city is gradually sinking. Research from ITB shows that since 1977, parts of Jakarta have sunk at a rate of up to 25cm per year. Huge population growth and rural-urban migration have also played a part, with city density impacting on the natural environment, straining resources and causing high levels of pollution. The city’s infrastructure has struggled to keep up with the rate of population growth, so I can see the logic in proposing to move the capital.

This competition has been the biggest and most prestigious design competition in Indonesia so far. There were about 700 entries from around the world. Kalimantan Island was chosen for the new capital because of its strategic and central location amongst the islands of Indonesia. Also, Kalimantan is relatively safe with regard to frequent earthquake disaster risk because it is the only island which is not part of the ‘ring of fire’ in Indonesia.

Our proposal for the new capital is basically about enhancing the unique wetland character of East Kalimantan, their local culture as well as celebrating the diversity of ecology and cultures of Indonesia from Aceh to Papua Province.

You were part of one of the 5 winning teams in the competition. Can you tell me about your team’s entry and what you proposed?

Our entry is titled Banua Rakyat Nusantara which translates to The Village of the People of the Archipelago. Our proposal for the new capital is basically about enhancing the unique wetland character of East Kalimantan, their local culture as well as celebrating the diversity of ecology and cultures of Indonesia from Aceh to Papua Province. All of these issues are reflected in the spatial planning of our proposal for the New Capital of Indonesia. Since this new capital is relatively close to other existing big cities in East Kalimantan such as Balik Papan and Samarinda, our proposal integrates the new capital with those existing cities with regard to its spatial planning, its transportation system as well as its social and education system.

What are the next steps with regard to the New Capital Design?

The competition panel selected 5 winning schemes, with our project coming in as the 5th winner. At this stage, the government is keen to incorporate elements of all of these 5 top projects into the new capital development but, due to the pandemic, any actions have been delayed to an extent. We hope to hear further news of how aspects of our project will be taken forward into the final development.

How has Institut Teknologi Bandung‘s partnership with the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning benefitted students at both institutions?

It has contributed a great deal towards all the students’ development and experience. I do believe exchanging experiences and knowledge amongst our students and faculties will not only broaden our horizon but also, more importantly, lead to strengthening the respect and understanding between different cultures and values.

Images: Excerpts from Pak Budi’s teams’ entry into Indonesia’s New Capital Design Competition, titled ‘The Village of the People of the Archipelago’.