Han Awal is fascinated by the way architecture conveys local wisdom as to what he discovered on his trip from Ise Shrine in Japan to Wae Rebo village in Flores, Indonesia. Wood material has the least durability, yet the indigeneous civilization rebuilt it, consequently forming a tradition.
Conservation was a principle he ignored until the late 1960s.
No less of an architecture works
In 1963 he laid out a nihilistic plan to rebuild the old town in Jakarta, a project he thanked god it never materialized.
Despite the common perception that conservation is a lesser work of architecture because nothing new is created besides patchworks, the person who had an interest in anthropology as a student rebuked this view by stating that this principle requires background research on social aspects such as history.
It is a process to earn wisdom, the one he valued most throughout his career.
The beginning of Han Awal’s conservation works
Grabbing more attention in national architecture scene ever since he designed the Atma Jaya Catholic University, located at Jakarta’s top central business district, decades ago, the recognition he received went far beyond as he started to focus on conservation architecture.
Some of the most prominent historical buildings in Jakarta, such as Jakarta Cathedral, Museum Bank Indonesia, and the National Archive Building owe the meticulous conservation projects to him, viewed as part of Indonesia’s second batch of architects following the Indonesian-born Dutch architects such as Henri Maclaine Pont who designed the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB).
Amid the fading hope in the eyes of many when the talks circles around preserving the persistently decaying old structures in Jakarta, he is adamant on his optimistic view that there is still hope. And he reminds us that there are many than thought who would shed the light.