Dream Houses


Site specific Installation on Basement Prison of Jakarta Historical Museum

Sand clay, concrete, other media




New town development dominates the Jakarta cityscape as the prefered solution to ongoing urban growth. These developments, however, are often designed as exclusive gated communities that foster social segregation. Developers capitalise on urban paranoia and market tall walls and heightened security as inherent positives. Prisons too are built with the principles of containment and surveillance in mind. The distinction is that in a prison these qualities have negative connotations.


In this installation work made of a sand-clay composite and a concrete-gypsum composite, I try to invert the isolated spaces of the prison and the gated community. I turn the prison into a space of imaginary freedom by installing a mirror to obscure the prison walls. On the other hand, the miniature buildings reflected in the mirror-wall replicate the endless multiplication of mass housing typical of new town developments. Over the course of the exhibition, the miniature buildings will gradually be destroyed by the water quifier in the basement, a symptom of Jakarta’s rapid land subsidence due to excessive groundwater extraction. The body of the miniatures (made from gypsum) will absorb the water, destroying the clay-sand façade. This reflects the condition of North Jakarta buildings which are deteriorating as Jakarta sinks.


This work articulates the dark side of architecture through a flooded basement-prison, fantastical architectural models and the process of decay as ecological catastrophe arrives. In ‘Buildings Must Die’, Stephen Cairns states that the decay of a building is a starting point for re-imagining architecture and forming new conceptions of utopia.


Jakarta is sinking, which one do we choose: floating city or underwater city?