Weaving Natural and Cultural Heritage with Regenerative Design: A Case Study through the Lens of a Developing Country in Semarang, Indonesia.

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Submission Summary
Currently, many papers have discussed holistic and nature-based solutions for infrastructures to tackle urban climate threats, but rarely with the entangled complexities of a developing country. Not to mention the lack of data, financial support, and weak governance which cause the delay in joining the changing paradigm. This research seeks the possibilities of cities in the developing country--with a case study of Semarang, Indonesia--to build with nature through the concept of regenerative design. In Semarang, the decaying beauty of City’s Old Town is sought to be nominated for the World Heritage listing. This most valued region meets the city’s meandering backbone, the Semarang River, which flows from the upstream of Mount Ungaran down to the main port. However, Semarang River has been facing continuous landscape degradation and annual flooding, hindering the potential of the Old Town to be listed. Following the problem synthesis, the paper reflects the theory of risk = (hazard x vulnerability) / coping capacity (Cardona. et al., 2012) to deduce the issues in the city through the variables of the equation. This leads to the findings of multiple urban water-related challenges: (1) land subsidence due to uncontrolled groundwater extraction; (2) coastal, pluvial, and fluvial flooding; and (3) low water quality due to poor waste management in the city. These hazards are currently dominating the equation as the coping capacity and the vulnerability of the citizens have not been able to balance the scale. This framework then enhanced the equation by changing the coping capacity into regenerative capacity. With a limited assumptions on future resource availability, coping capacity only focus on the moment, survival, and previously used tactics (Cardona, et al., 2012). On the other hand, regenerative capacity implies that the built environment should contribute more than it consumes to ecosystems while simultaneously remediating past and current environmental damage (Zari, 2018). A regenerative spatial planning would therefore mean that the design interventions contain elements which mimic the ecosystem services, such as productive landscape at the riverbanks to protect one from flooding or to harvest crops from. This approach aims to promote a resilient community that may sustain themselves in facing future possible hazards. However, Nightingale and Cote (2012) argue that the relationship between society to resilient concept has many limitations. The key reason is because it allows too much focus on the structures and ‘functionality’ of an institutional system, and disregards the political, historical and cultural meaning. Nightingale repeatedly emphasizes the question of ‘resilience of what and for whom?’ or ‘who defines the desirable threshold?’. This triggers queries on the relationship of the local with city’s the urban green and blue network. Knowing that Indonesia was under Dutch colonization for three and a half centuries, the country must have received the Netherlands’ influence on managing water-related infrastructures. The East and West Canals of Semarang are the product of colonial times to tackle flooding issues at the time, which turned out degrading the function of the main Semarang River. Hence, it is important to review the site history and values while ensuring an adequate role, access, and communication to the citizens (Cote & Nightingale, 2012). These socio-ecological considerations are crucial to complete the concept of regenerative capacity. Examples of the regenerative measures will be explored in this paper through the design tools that fall under the categories of Purify, Protect, and Provide. The cultural heritage of the Old Town could only be successfully revitalised when accompanied by the natural heritage conservation. This framework aims to be applicable to other cities of developing countries that are dealing with similar hazards and neglected urban heritage.
Submission ID :
ISO551
Submission Type
Submission Track
5: Uniqueness and connectivity. Al-Baraha: unlocking urban futures
Junior Urban Designer
,
PT. Pandega Desain Weharima Indonesia

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