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A whole new meaning to the term ‘walled garden’ with RAD+ar in Indonesia

The latest iteration of Tanatap deploys walls as a key architectural device to create both a cooler microclimate and elevated spatial experience.

A whole new meaning to the term ‘walled garden’ with RAD+ar in Indonesia

When architects conceive their own projects, there is a high level of experimentation that pushes many boundaries. This was the case with Tanatap Wall Garden, a public space-cum-cafe in Indonesia. RAD+ar (Research Artistic Design + Architecture), founded by Antonius Richard Rusli, is the client, operator and architect. The project itself, meanwhile, is one of several iterations that have sprouted in the bustling city.

“Tanatap is trying to stay consistent with its vision to decentralise sustainable buildings through sustainable business in developing countries such as Indonesia. The design was committed to host creative community in its gallery-cum-public garden set up,” says Rusli, whose ambition was for this to be a “refreshing and dynamic new civic space.” The aim is for this privately run enterprise to be more “reliable” in achieving aims more typical of government-run public spaces.

The space is located one kilometre from the seafront of Semarang, with an average temperature of 35 degrees Celsius. “An abandoned cargo parking lot is transformed drastically into a 2500-square-metre public garden that reduces the macro-climate by an average of five degree Celsius through the strategic greening and experimentation with water bodies,” explains Rusli.

This helps prove that regardless of macro environment conditions, a passive, low-energy commercial design can still be achieved in a tropical, developing country. Functionally, there is a coffee shop integrated with existing trees, an aesthetic water catchment area, amphitheatre and garden. The key strategy was to weave a number of walls into the plot, manipulating their form and porosity, together with pools, to bring in natural ventilation and cool the interiors.

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“We started with a question: was it possible to create a commercial space with simple basic [architectural elements] such as the wall? Three ‘slashes’ of straight lines were drawn right through the middle of the site. With a consistent difference in their heights, the three walls playfully twirl between existing lush trees,” says Rusli.

He continues: “We were trying to explore walls as structural (shear wall), perimeter (maze-like object in the city scape) and space-finding elements that lead visitors moving from one tree to another. Any other element is reduced [in significance] so as not to overpower the playfulness of the walls.”

Architecturally, the datum is very simple – “the building is nothing more than a maze underneath a series of green [elements that provide] double shading, [thus creating] indoor areas that require low energy.

“Its significance lies in its porosity, which contributes to the cityscape. The oasis-like reflection garden is 800-square-metres of water catchment area. This main entrance feature lets the building be off the grid, returning all the processed water to the ground within the site,” explains Rusli.

The sites are chosen specifically for their potential to turn negative, undesirable city spots into enlightening spaces that benefit both the public and the environment. The aesthetics of the architecture – in this case, the drama of the ‘dancing walls’ – also provides delight. Fans of Tanatap have come to expect elevated experiences with each new outlet.

“The new coffee garden will serve as a public living room for the locals and is an exciting new destination for everyone with a passion for music and performance, a space to nourish curiosity, knowledge and creativity,” Rusli affirms.


Mario Wibowo

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