Providing a sound project and vision that balances concerns over flooding, water quality, and ecology, within the realities of a rapidly-growing Southeast Asian megacity
Designing and modelling a new environmentally responsive landscape project along the Ciliwung River in Jakarta, Indonesia
The Ciliwung River is the living symbol of a massive environmental crisis in Jakarta. Centuries of exploitation and, more recently, rapid and haphazard urbanisation, have left the Ciliwung valley with a heavily-polluted and instable river. Informal migrant settlements along the river have adapted to the chronic flooding conditions, but also rely on the river to compensate for a lack of potable water, sanitation, and commodity. The social and complexity of the present situation has thus far stymied any efforts at ecological remediation.
The research method combined environmental engineering with planning and landscape architecture and was strongly based on a combination of design conceptualisation, mathematical modelling and ecosystems services. Design research studios at NUS and the ETH generated rich output that contributed further to research and design simulations.
The interdisciplinary team conducted research at three river scales to better focus on the hydrological and ecological dynamics. At the overall catchment scale, focus was on the hydrology of the watershed and the range of land use. At the river corridor scale, detailed mathematical models provided insight into how future changes in the river and adjacent lands could directly affect river dynamics. Landscape modelling was developed on selected sites to generate, test and analyse possible topographic and hydrographic changes to the river bathymetry and adjacent urban areas. At a local site scale, detailed investigations between urban, sub-urban, and rural sites provided potential for alternative landscape configurations and designs. Feedback from stakeholders (including residents, community organisations and resource managers) helped better define the quality and focus of possible designs.
Through this process the team developed a transformative understanding of the river that is both culturally respectful and ecologically congruent with the situation at hand. Beyond this initial case study on the Ciliwung River, the project aims at defining sound ways to influence the course of rivers in similar demographic and socioeconomic contexts of Southeast Asia.