Arts |

The Gelora Bung Karno: Preserving History While Adapting to New Requirements and Challenges

Arts | 1 March 2018

Jakarta’s Gelora Bung Karno sports facilities complex dates from the early 1960s when it was built in preparation of the fourth Asian Games held in 1962. In preparation of the eighteenth Asian Games this year, the buildings needed to undergo renovation to adapt to the requirements of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA). Meanwhile, as a cultural heritage property, the restoration of the historical legacy of its architecture needed to be properly handled.

The Swimming Arena for Asian Games 2018. Photo by Amir Sidharta/NOW!JAKARTA

he Ministry of Public Works and Housing and the Indonesian Institute of Architects (IAI) worked closely together on this project. The IAI’s “Indonesia Memanggil” program called for architects who were interested to participate to submit their proposals. Based on the proposals, the IAI recommended which architects would be most suitable to design the thirteen venues and three practice fields, which were made into seven project “packages”. Their role was to be the principal architect of each of the venues, but also had the responsibility of coordinating the building of the project.

Maria Rosantina and Bambang Wicaksono designed the Madya Stadium for baseball, softball, and basketball, while the hockey, archery, soccer field practise venues were designed by Deddy Wahyudi, and the multi training facilities were designed by Adjie Negara. Boy Bhirawa was to design the Istora (Istana Olah Raga/”Sports Palace”) which is usually used for badminton tournaments, while the Tennis (center court & indoor tennis) courts became the responsibility of Adi Purnomo. The task for the design of the Aquatic Stadium was given to Andra Matin. Gregorius Supie Yolodi was entrusted with the challenge to design the Main Stadium and coordinator of the team of architects.

“The renovations were intended to feature a harmonious collaboration of functionality with architectural aesthetic. We wanted the stadiums to be modern buildings, incorporating the application of some new technology. During the design process, the architects worked closely together to create a common thread and an integration of harmony among all the project designs,“ explained Supie. Ahmad Djuhara, Andra Matin and himself acted as curators for the design process.

The Swimming arena at Gelora Bung Karno turned to be outdoor space. Photo by Amir Sidharta/NOW!JAKARTA

Boy Bhirawa’s task was to reorganize the Istora stadium, which was initially only for badminton, but then developed into a venue for basketball as well. He explained that the most significant problems there were the roof leakage, the turbulence of air, the insufficient air conditioning. In addition, there were also problems of lighting and acoustics. In order to meet the requirements of the OCA, the existing wooden benches had to be replaced into single seats. A remote controlled curtain system needed to be installed for the glass window on the third floor. Supporting rooms such as player and referee lounges, doping control room, press and television broadcasting areas, space for organizers needed to be added. In order to meet the new space, circulation and accessibility requirements, the existing spaces needed to be rearranged.

Bhirawa saw the fact that the Istora is a cultural heritage building as a challenge as well as an advantage. “The new requirements for the building often conflict with the condition of the venue as a heritage building, However, for Istora this was a challenge of creating a precedent to offer a fairly new set of adaptive re-use solutions for the handling of architectural conservation in Indonesia. Archaeologists and historians need proof that progressive conservation can also be acceptable.

In principle, complete data about this building was required. Luckily the original architectural drawings were still well kept. Then, the data and the existing condition of the building needed to be analyzed,” he explained.

 Photo by Amir Sidharta/NOW!JAKARTA

Bhirawa studied the original design. He dismantled additional building parts that obscured the essence of the original design. Then, he restored the original design based on original image of Soviet architect. He added mechanical, electrical and plumbing elements to the original building with aesthetic and composition considerations. Finally, he added new buildings on the side and back of the original building with reference to the original building’s system (grid, floor height etc.).

Although the projects had a very tight and limited time constraint, and most of the architects were not familiar with the new culture of work, they managed to complete their tasks. “Each venue has its own distinction. The intention was to make the building work well and the design to be in harmony with the existing cultutal heritage context,” Supie mentioned diplomatically. For Boy Bhirawa, the Aquatic Stadium by Andra Matin presented an interesting visual, programming and layout concept as well as good details supported by the work of good contractor’s. He noted however, that there was nothing special in the handling of the heritage conservation of the project. He understood that this was perhaps because the demand and requirement of venue requirements are too complex.

“Essentially we needed to comply to the international standard regulation of the FOP (Field of Play). The dominant changes in Aquatic stadium that we acquire to regularize were resizing the pools, altering the diving tower, modifying the Outdoor Stadium to Semi-Indoor Stadium, and accommodate the facilities required for the Asian Games,” Andra Matin explained. Keeping in mind that the stadium is a notable heritage building, “We tried to preserved as much as we can in our design, for instance not changing the existing tribune along with the layout inside, which is still relatively the same as the original plan. In case that we have to add any spaces for the facilities, we try not to overpowering the early design yet to generate more transparent so that people can identify the existing layer.” the architect mentioned further.

Istora Senayan is also part of major renovation at Gelora Bung Karno Sport Area.  Photo by Amir Sidharta/NOW!JAKARTA

One of the main features of his design is the roof over the Aquatic stadium, which was a requirement for the Asian Games. It posed a challenge Andra Matin’s team of designers since they could not place the structures on the existing building. “Therefore we separate the roof from the existing structure, set a 86 meter wide gap in order not to harm the heritage building. The wavering shape is literally inspired by Istora roof, but we alter it to blend with the main elements of the stadium, which is water. The movement of water representing the hope of Indonesia swimming sports will enthusiastically leading onward,” he said.

Another prominent feature was the choice of materials in their design. They used expanded metal as a material that distinguished the old and new part of the building. The transparency on the newer part of the building added some modernity into the design without hindering the beauty of the heritage structure. As the stadium itself is located in a city forest, they also used those materials to extend the green nuance of the outdoor spaces inside the building,

After one and a half year of renovations that cost US $58.4 million, the great work of the eight Indonesian architects was finally completed in early January this year. President Joko Widodo inaugurated the new Gelora Bung Karno on 14 January 2018 prior to a friendship soccer tournament between Iceland and Indonesia. The Gelora Bung Karno has shown that architectural heritage can be adapted to meet new requirements and challenges. Presenting the newly restored and renovated sports facilities for the upcoming Asian Games hopefully also means that while respecting her own cultural heritage. Indonesia is able adapt to global challenges and play an important role as a world leader.



 This article is originally from paper. Read NOW!Jakarta Magazine March 2018 issue “Design for Living”. Available at selected bookstore or SUBSCRIBE here.