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Architecture as Advertising

By Marvin Julian

Architecture has been a marketing tool for companies, big or small. Using architecture as an icon is a tool to give public a avant-garde high end impression of the company. Many arguments are flowing from architects, critics, and public whether architecture is an advertising tool. Let’s just take a look at our own campus. After the completion of the new avant garde UI library, UI has used the building to promote the campus and eventually raise the public awareness that UI is not the “old-same-university” but the new revamped pimped out fresh hip and happening university whose library is very stylish and jawdropping. It’s not only a very effective advertising gimmick but also an agenda to overthrown other big private universities that has known for its monumental facilities. Whether you realize it or not, it’s an advertising agenda and also very effective one to attract public.

Architecture has become icons for century. Eiffel tower has brought countless revenue to France’s tourism for centuries, same thing with England and Big Ben, China with The Great Wall, and etc. But in the modern world, where no building is as iconic as those mentioned previously, high end avant garde building designed by world known architects are the main weapon in advertising. I’m talking about the Disney Hall by Frank Gehry, Guangzhou Opera House by Zaha Hadid, CCTV Tower by Rem Koolhaas. All are a very effective tool to market the country. The tourist will simply attracted to see in close those larger-than-life contemporary buildings. Those modern structure is as magnetic as those old iconic buildings , and it has been an indication that public is now equally attracted to modern architecture in the same way they are attracted to Eiffel Tower and those old buildings. That is a great news for modern architecture and advertising world, and also for countries which don’t have iconic medieval buildings, just call Gehry make one crazy contemporary building and put it in your banners, people will come like snap. Voila!

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Architecture And Social Consciousness : Lenteng Agung

Lenteng Agung is a region located in sub-district Jagakarsa, South Jakarta. With a population of 51,778 people distributed over a land area of 227.74 hectares [i], Lenteng Agung is one of the most populated regions in its sub-district. Being located near Depok, ‘the city of education’, makes Lenteng Agung a busy district since there is a lot of traffic caused by commuting from Depok and vice versa. Lenteng Agung is also a borderland between Depok and Jakarta, the busiest city in Indonesia.

Like any other region, Lenteng Agung also faces the typical urban issues.  Jakarta, known for its megapolitan lifestyle, is the perfect example of urban inequality.  Modern towers and fancy buildings occur amidst slums, making a distinct gap between the rich and the poor.  The contrast between fancy houses and inhabitable houses is very clear, making housing the indisputable problem in Jakarta’s urban development. The exact same thing occurs in Lenteng Agung. The contrast is crystal clear. Lavish formidable houses are located right next to large areas of slums and blocks of inhabitable houses are hiding behind large luxurious complexes. This evidence supports the fact that urban development in this area is unbalanced.

Urban inequality has been a huge problem in Jakarta, as well as Lenteng Agung.  When I went there a week ago, I witnessed an unforgettable portrait of injustice in this area.  Many of sumptuous houses were built in this area. However, it is such an irony to see a lot of sub-standard houses among them. Robin Shell, senior vice president of Habitat for Humanity International, defined sub-standard house as, “A substandard house is where the family is always getting sick. It’s where they never know when someone might come and sweep away the slums. They’re at the mercy of the rich and powerful.”[ii] So how is ‘a sub-standard house’ defined? According to Habitat World Online, a house can be called a sub-standard house if it fits characteristics such as:  1) It doesn’t fulfill physical adequacy of the structure, 2) Overcrowded, and 3) Poor health.[iii]  Based on three characteristics given, we could easily draw a conclusion that those sub-standard houses are part of Lenteng Agung.

A lot of effort has been taken by both government and civilians to reduce social inequality in Jakarta throughout the years, but none seems to be a very effective solution.  The most important thing to improve the situation is the willingness of the residents to unite and solve the problem together.  An improvement of neighborhood quality in Lenteng Agung can be beneficial to both parties, the poor and the rich. A program like cross-subsidization can be effective.  The poor can improve their life by receiving the funds from the rich, while the life quality of the rich will automatically be improved if the neighborhood is clean and healthy.  So the benefits are mutual. A ‘Green’ approach is another possible solution, by using green and sustainable methods of living,  the society will also improve their quality of life especially improvements in health and hygiene. Therefore, Lenteng Agung inhabitants must take some action and dare to make some changes to create a perfect harmony in their living space.

[ii] Graydon,Rebekah.What is Poverty Housing?,

[iii] Graydon,Rebekah.What is Poverty Housing?,

By Marvin Julian


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