The caldera

PHOTOGRAPHS  I  SALLY CONDRO, JEANE SHEIMANO
A passenger boat operates in the serene morning at Toba Lake
A passenger boat operates in the serene morning at Toba Lake

Danau Toba Caldera is the latest entry into the list of 100 Geopark sites around the world.

With so far attributed to 23 countries, the UNESCO-supported natural heritage site conservation program has shorter list than the World Heritage Site, but it lays more emphasis on ecology and its correlation with social condition.

Danau Toba is Indonesia’s second caldera after Mount Batur that join the Global Geoparks Network.

The morning hours of Toba Lake
The morning hours of Toba Lake. Photograph by Sally Condro, courtesy of think archipelago
Noon at Toba Lake
Noon at Toba Lake. Photograph by Jeane Sheimano, courtesy of think archipelago

The strong mural of Asemka flyover

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The construction of Asemka flyover has received mixed reviews for not only it brought traffic solution to the cramped old quarter of Jakarta that apparently could no longer sustain increasing economic activities, but also the impact to the surrounding environment.

Since 1989, rumours spread that the once thriving business center of the 19th century had started to see an imminent downturn due to the flyover that occupied the space between arcades.

The superstition had ingrained the generation of enterpreneurs in Jakarta that a flyover next to a business center bodes ill with the area’s market potentials.

This explains that space influences living condition of a particular environment. As a constantly changing element, space determines what a surrounding looks like in the future.

Now, as Asemka’s last era seems imminent, art finds an overlooked spot to introduce itself in a more cheerful fashion. Under the flyover, the wall paintings reflects the ongoing social and landscape transformation in the area.

Mural as an art has always garnered mixed reactions. But its effectiveness in making use of the tiniest space in a dense environment helps envisage Asemka’s transformation at every turn of era.

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Life in Jakarta is full of tricks
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Street vendor is a street fighter

The project redesign of Shanghai World Financial Center

World Trade Center Shanghai

Nicknamed Bottle Opener, the trapezoid aperture at the top of the WTC skyscraper in Shanghai was originally designed in circular. But halfway up the construction, the city mayor and some residents stated their objection in what they deemed a semblance of Japan’s state symbol.

In 2005 KPF eventually got approval in a redesign submission, concluding the sentiment-fueled victory of the Chinese citizens over their ghost of the past, but on the flip side exacerbated the delay, already caused by the 1997 Asian monetary crisis, to 11 years in total to complete the then tallest building in China at 492 m.

The 9/11 effect on Shanghai tower construction

Besides the change of height from the initial plan 460 m, another cause of delay, in concern of design, was implicated by the post 9/11 scare which had pushed the engineers to come up with some desperate measures to plane crash scenario, such as adding 12 fireproof refugee areas and external elevators.

It was said that trapezoid was chosen because it is the most reasonable in terms of price, but rendering an extra cost at no less than USD200 million, adding a total cost of over USD850 million funded by an international consortium of 36 companies.

Although seven years later the twister-like Shanghai Tower would surpassed it by contrast height at 632 m in 2015, the World Financial Center still pride itself until today for the title the best skycraper built in 2008 for its simplicity in structural design.

It has also become one of the prized achievement for Kohn Pedersen Fox, an American-based architect firm widely accredited for supertall works whose first project was a conservation project of ABD Armory Building in New York, 1978.

Japanese developer Mori Building, whose first project in Shanghai was the HSBC tower, then named it on its completion in 1998 as Shanghai Mori International Tower, and whose president Minoru Mori considered Shanghai to have more vitality than Beijing, began the monumental work in 1997 at Lujiazui, the epicenter of Shanghai modern cityscape. Some said that he made the decision after the completion of Oriental Pearl TV & Radio Tower in 1994.