Tag Archives: Construction

The politics tower

Bangunan UMNO

As the name suggests, the glass-facade, 40-storey Bangunan UMNO is the headquarters of Malaysia’s largest political party, the United Malays National Organization, remaining in power since the nation birth in 1957. They lead a coalition called Barisan Nasional consisting of mainly three parties, the other two being the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), against some smaller opposition parties.

The country holds a multi-party system, but the coalition has always been enjoying landslide victories throughout time, to the extent where some, within the party, has voiced concern over the absolutism that hardly gets in check.

UMNO’s towering power

“90% majority (vote) is too strong. We need opposition to remind us if we are making mistakes. When you are not opposed you think everything you do is right,” said former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad in 2005.

Prime minister succession in his country had all come from UMNO. He was the fourth, and the longest serving.

Democratic or not, all countries have each of their own predominant political organization, but few have a party akin to Malaysia’s that could stay in power uncontested since the birth of the nation.

And among those few, none have the privilege to build a stoic headquarters 175 meters tall which is arguably the world’s tallest building that conspicuously bears the name of a political organization, not to mention the future plan to develop a super bloc PWTC KL housing luxury hotel, convention center, and a 70-storey skyscraper to mark 70 years of age for UMNO by 2020.

Opened in 1985 for mainly commercial-use, Bangunan UMNO is also called the Dato Onn Tower, named after the party founder Dato Onn Jaafar.

The Communist Party of China certainly has the land and all the resources to flaunt grandiose headquarters as they did when they came to power by building a central government office that also houses the ruling communist party office to be bigger than the Forbidden City. However, they did not come close to construct skyscrapers or a business district at the city center and put the letter CPC on top of it.

Its neighbor Indonesia was once ruled by a party whose power went uncontested for 32 years. Having had bolstered an image as the initiator of the country’s economic development, yet they did not construct Golkar Tower whatsoever. Instead, their new office complex showcases an interesting design.

But there are similar instances elsewhere to compare.

High-rise party headquarters

Ušće Tower, built in 1964, remained the tallest building in Serbian capital Belgrade to date. It was home to the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, the country’s communist party. Its supreme political status made it an airstrike target by NATO forces during the Balkan crisis in the late 90’s, despite of no strategic value. Several years later it underwent a revamp to add a shopping mall, thus restored the prime sense of modernity at the city center.

Named also after a leading political figure, Metzudat Ze’ev is an example of a high-rise office for political party in Israel, Likud. Ze’ev Jabotinsky was central in the 60’s Revisionist Zionism, a movement that sees a unified territory of Israel as opposed to the Arab-Jewish States of Palestine. Among the tallest building in 1963 at 60 meters high, it is now one of the oldest buildings in Tel Aviv, and remained a home for Likud-affiliated movement centers, institute, and museums, while the rest other space leased for private businesses.

Too high to afford

In the same year, London also saw the completion of Millbank Tower, an 118 meters building that housed the countries’ Labour and Conservative parties, although this was merely coincidental. The general function for office use subjected the parties to rents which steadily rises to the point where Labour party decided to vacate its headquarters a decade ago due to high annual rents. The United Nations soon followed suit.

In 2013, the ruling political party in Uganda constructed a 27-floor tower to house the National Resistance Movement headquarters in the capital Kampala. The ruling president helped raise funds to build the USD12.5 million Movement House by a hundred thousand of party members donation, and other means he initiated. It will become a mixed-use high-rise structure accommodating retail space, financial, office, and other leisure amenities.

Coretan para pemanggul keramik

Di balik beban dan coretan.
Raut wajah seorang buruh menyiratkan beban seberat keramik yang dipanggul di punggungnya.

Di balik koridor yang menjebak udara dingin, para buruh harian berhadapan dengan beban yang terus menanti untuk dipikul setiap hari. Ini bukan saja pekerjaan berat, tapi merusak tubuh.

Bahaya biomekanis yang mendera di setiap keramik berukuran setidaknya 60 meter persegi yang mereka angkat tidak menciutkan air mukanya. Justru yang tampak dari raut wajah mereka saat melangkah dengan memanggul beban berat di punggung itu adalah mata yang terpaku pada sebuah harapan di luar dinding koridor yang dingin tersebut.

Inilah beban hidup di dunia kerja yang sempit, dan dapat disandingkan sebagai analogi dari perjuangan berat untuk bertahan hidup di luar sana.

Sekitar 20 pekerja, sebagian berasal dari sekitar Serang, Banten, mengeroyok proyek konstruksi di sana yang sudah berlangsung selama satu tahun, dan kini dalam tahap penataan lantai.

Fisik gedung berlantai 4 tersebut sudah terlihat rampung dari luar. Tampak dari jalanan sebuah gedung kantor di sebuah lokasi industri modern yang mewakili wajah pembangunan pesat di salah satu daerah padat penduduk dan kaya akan potensi ekonomi.

Daerah ini terik, gersang, bertanah merah dengan frekuensi hujan panas yang akan menyebabkan tanah segera menjadi lumpur begitu hujan mengguyur sepanjang siang. Di sekitarnya bertebaran wilayah penambangan pasir di perbukitan.

Industri bata hebel yang kini kian populer digunakan oleh warga desa-kota di Jawa berkembang di sini beberapa tahun terakhir, dan mencakup skala industri mulai dari rumahan hingga pabrik besar.

Truk pengangkut pasir meninggalkan jejak jalan rusak di banyak titik di antara pintu tol Balaraja dan Ciujung. Ini adalah sentra industri mengalirkan arus ekonomi dari basis produksi di Serang hingga ke Jakarta atau Pelabuhan Merak di barat.

Produktivitas tinggi, namun tidak demikian halnya dengan kualitas tenaga kerja secara umum.

Buruh harian menapaki tangga sambil memikul sebidang keramik.
Seorang buruh harian menapaki tangga sambil memikul sebidang keramik, sebuah pekerjaan yang berbahaya, apalagi tanpa alat pengaman diri yang cukup.

Meski volume kendaraan tersendat akibat kepadatan dan jalan berlubang, serta terik karena konstruksi yang marak sehingga memangkas kerindangan, para pekerja harian di balik salah satu proyek di sepanjang jalan tersebut tidak tersiksa.

Otot tangan mereka kencang, sendi-sendi mereka kokoh diselimuti kelembapan interior bangunan yang masih telanjang dengan warna semen serta tanpa instalasi lampu kecuali sinar yang merambah ke dalam melalui kedua ujung koridor di lantai dua dan tiga.

Kompetensi pekerja

Mungkin mereka tidak menggubris rendahnya nilai rata-rata kompetensi pekerja di Indonesia selain berapa akumulasi pendapatan saat pembagian gaji di akhir pekan. Tidak pernah terlintas di benak mereka soal menapak jenjang karir, kecuali asa untuk menapak anak tangga sambil kedua tangannya menopang bidang keramik yang ujungnya tajam itu.

Tidak ada yang tahu di dalam gedung yang sedang dalam tahap penyelesaian tersebut bahwa Kementerian Pekerjaan Umum dan Perumahan Rakyat sedang membagi-bagikan sertifikasi melalui serangkaian program pelatihan kepada seribuan pekerja konstruksi dalam sebuah acara simbolik di beberapa kota untuk mengurangi kekhawatiran pemerintah akan rendahnya daya saing di era Masyarakat Ekonomi ASEAN.

Itu pun hanya sebagian dari 25% pekerja konstruksi Indonesia yang bersertifikat. Tidak ada yang pernah menjalani uji kompetensi, kecuali ujian kerelaan menerima pekerjaan yang memakan raga, serta ujian ketabahan hidup yang rentan terhadap ancaman kemiskinan dan ketidakpastian kerja setelah proyek ini selesai.

Mencoret dinding

Tidak ada dari buruh harian ini yang meratapi status mereka yang tidak termasuk dalam 7 juta pekerja konstruksi di Indonesia. Mereka hanya menuangkan status hati di atas dinginnya dinding semen telanjang, dicoret dengan kapur tulis di balik koridor dan di pojok ruangan-ruangan setengah jadi.

Coretan tersebut di antaranya memuat pesan penantian hari pembagian gaji yang kian menyiksa, ungkapan cinta dan harapan di tengah ketidakberdayaan keuangan, pernyataan bokek.

Menarik dilihat bahwa ada beberapa buruh yang gemar menuangkan perasaannya di beberapa tempat tanpa lupa meninggalkan jejak identitas, baik dalam aksara maupun simbol.

Alias bertuliskan Tokid Mimpi, misalnya, atau guratan berbentuk hati yang setidaknya di salah satu coretannya melambangkan cinta.

Ada pula di antara mereka yang menggambar sebuah jam dinding berbentuk lingkaran yang nyaris sempurna.

Di sela-sela langkah yang berat, para pemanggul keramik menyikapi hari demi hari yang menganiaya dengan humor vernakular. Ini sebuah cara untuk mengurangi tekanan sosial dengan berbagi ungkapan spontan kepada sesama rekan kerja yang dirasa senasib.

Namun tampaknya tiada coretan yang menarik seseorang untuk menoleh sejenak, kecuali penciptanya sendiri. Tampaknya mereka adalah penikmat sesaat bagi graffitti masing-masing.

dsc_1505
Seorang buruh harian dengan wajah tertutup kain menyapu lantai semen di sore hari.

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BRI towers at twilight

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Ostrich is a fine art photography medium by think archipelago that specifies contemporary photographs for the use of journalism presentation. It explores a variety of new approaches to visual reportage, experimenting on possibilities which are counter-intuitive to the convention. Its deliberate consideration on shapes, patterns, and artificial colors aims to reconstruct the seamless transformation from image-making to story-telling. Visit Ostrich online gallery and see many series of fine art photography in thinkarchipelago.tumblr.com.


BRI 2

When dusk fell, workers swarmed the lobbies of BRI 1 and the adjacent BRI 2 Tower, and went out through multiple exit doors which lead to restaurants alley, the famous BRI garden complex, or simply to Sudirman street.

Amid falling office occupancy rate, currency rate, exports, economy figures, and all the uncertainties in the Q1 of 2015, white collar workers rushes in and out of high-rise workplace in the CBD with hopes and fears.

Dull expressions after relieved from the day’s work came altogether as the sun coming down the horizon. Artificial outdoor lights of BRI 2 soon came as replacement, which lasted from dusk until dawn.

Some had no idea that the oldest bank in Indonesia did not fully own the very tower that bears its abbreviation until 2013, ending over 3 years of legal dispute with Mulia Group subsidiary MPPC who took over the tower management since 1992 for USD400,000 annual compensation to BRI.

However, the failure to meet one of its condition in the 30-year Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) agreement, that was, to build BRI 3 Tower by 1998, compromised MPPC position. Taking over the headquarter turned the balance sheet in the bank’s favor.

It topped the biggest government-owned banks by revenue, Q4 financial report showed.

Harnessing hydropower

PHOTOGRAPHS  I  NIA KUMALA SARI

Untitled-1-01 The panoramic Niagara Falls, famous among world tourists for its epic and natural beauty, is located in three different places across two countries, Canada and the United States of America.

Each country shares the waterfall, and the other one sits on the border line between Ontario, Canada, and New York, The United States.

IMG_20141004_213716Niagara River is considered the best example of water resources humans made the most out of, from drawing huge numbers of tourists and other economic interests to harnessing hydropower.

Nikola Tesla was especially commemorated here for his alternating current system that is applicable for generating electricity out of the waterfall.

Developed since the 19th century, Niagara Falls is now the largest power source for New York State, and a site for the biggest hydropower plant in western hemisphere.

Nowadays the power facilities along the river produces 4.4 gigawatts of capacity. The engineers achieve it by leaving little environmental impact, although the high density commercial zone development has caused more serious consequences. IMG_20141004_213749_resized-1

Jakarta under construction

Karet - Semanggi

Confidence abounds when it comes to the talk of the recent economic development in Indonesia which entails a boom in foreign investment, property market, and infrastructure. These three are on the spotlight especially in the capital Jakarta.

The newly imposed regulation to limit the number of franchise outlets of a single ownership to 150 suggests how the municipality hastily keeps up with the surge of private investment into the country. Owner of a franchise whose outlets has exceeded the number set in the regulation but nevertheless plan to open more stores must form a partnership with another local company, who will in turn buy 60% of shares in the particular store.

Reports on property are dominated by surging price at a fast rate, and undersupply of office space. With 95% rate of occupancy, it is predicted that rents will jump as demand for office space shows ever increasing trend. Lacking anticipation, it is not until 2014 that supply will slightly catch up with the demand.

Road construction

But the sector that is most lacking is road construction, which also entails transportation. For the latter, the absence of a sound mass rapid transit until, perhaps, five or six years to come, shows just how long the governments have dropped the ball, and the consequence it brings now.

For the former, rapid construction is commonplace across the city. The plans to replace heavy intersections and railroad that crisscross the city’s road network with flyovers and underpasses have drawn mix reactions, from proponents who applaud the visible plan to opponents who insist that the real solution to traffic problem is to bring extensive line of MRT to the city.

think archipelago, Jakarta under constructionOne of the most striking sights of Jakarta in the making is found in Karet district, where a flyover that has stood to reduce traffic congestion since more than two decades ago in the intersection of Satrio Road and the most important road that passes the city’s most vibrant central business district, Sudirman Road, will now see gigantic structures that stand higher than it, built to ensure the traffic flow from west to central part and vice versa.

These massive structures will support the future elevated road called non-toll highway. This new road section lays directly on top of another existing road below and goes on the same direction.

It has become more vivid for Jakartans to envisage two layers of road that directly go in-line for approximately seven kilometers long, especially for those whose companies are located in the office towers, flanking the roads.

Jakarta daily commuters

According to Jabodetabek Urban Transportation Policy Integration (JUTPI) – a result of cooperation between JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) and the governments – daily commuters to Jakarta accounted for 1.1 million people in 2010.

Blueprint of toll roads (expressways) and non-toll ones include in-detail drawings, such as designated locations, complete list of intersections, etc. However, there are less mentioned plans to procure new transjakarta buses, trains, or the much awaited MRT project execution than it otherwise should.

Sure, the related agency who made RDTR breaks the public transportation design planning down into three main objectives: to start building MRTs, transjakarta buses procurement and opening new corridors, last is the attempt to revive monorail project, although the last two suit better the term “public” rather than “mass” transportation due to low passanger capacity.

Moreover, RDTR describes about Lebak Bulus-Kampung Bandan MRT line design. But it is deemed far from ideal as a single line will fail to deliver a sound and functioning citywide transportation.

DSCN1094

Anthony Ladjar, co-founder of Jakarta Sidewalk Community regretted the governments inability, or ignorace, to provide such basic facility. Solutions presented in RDTR is somewhat dominated by the further addition of roads, expressways, and flyovers.

The newly elected Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo said he is 100% for transportation for the masses. But whether he could pull his weight into accomplishing this tremendous task remained to be seen in the first few months in the office.

After all, Jokowi now leads an administration who held accountable for the past unresolved problems. He has to come to terms with the lawmakers who attain the capability to make or break a deal in this city (if not the whole country).

Road for cars or public transport?

Building a better Jakarta is the reason he takes the helm. It is a bit discouraging (as is often the case) to expect to see Jokowi’s trust index drops because of the lackluster growth. Again, this is the capital of the democratic Indonesia. We chose to do it the hard way from the start.

While still living up to his promise, Jokowi made an insinuation about how he had slightly changed the course in just a week after he made a tough stand regarding his disagreement with the six expressway proposals.

“Providing a facility for cars would encourage more ownership. It runs counter to relieving the traffic. I asked them (the Public Works Ministry) whether the planned expressway will dedicate a lane to serve elevated bus route. I have not heard news from them. But I welcome it,” he told the press.

Jalan non-toll