Almost Famous Church
A review of the 1st winner of
Bintaro Church Competition 2001

Architects have long complained that public buildings design are too often suffocated by endless public meetings, community consultation process, design-review boards, or even sometimes an undisclosed process of appointing certain architect to do the design work. But these days architects should feel relieve since more and more public buildings design are chosen from a competition process. If the competition jury board manage to avoid having the process ambushed by unidentified concerns or red-herring issues raised by project opponents, then people could expect more of the competition design product. More of it, the jury board also need to take the responsible of rationalizing public input into the projects and making sure design integrity does not fall victim to politics surrounding a site or project.

By natural predisposition, I have always put a high expectation of public building competitions. Though citizen involvement in the design of public community projects can be frustrating, but more competitions are a good process to find the most expressive and responsive architecture.

So, even the Bintaro Church project was aborted due to political reasons, when asked to review the 1st winner of the Church Design competition 2001, I got all excited and have my critic’s blades sharpened. My big question was: Could this one worth the polemic?

The church, as it turned out, puts up a good fight in rationalizing the arduous load of its namesake. A slopelike building with generous green view contain 3 blocks of main-events, Pastorate , Function-Hall, and the main worship space. It is crafted with utmost specification to the demands of a tight, irregular shaped site whilst maintaining the clarity of spatial intention. Architect Adi Purnomo in explaining the scheme, discusses the complexity of the site and the surrounding area.

A 25 meters height steel structure tower stands with its high voltage transmission cable stretch out above ground all along the front side of the site. The site itself sloped upward to almost 6 meters high from the street level to the back of the site Medium class of housing and a kindergarten -playground enclose the existing site.

A careful thought about the intricacy of the site created a positive response. A dialogue between what has to be inserted and what is there, making new relationships possible between the spaces of The Church and the ‘wasted’ space below the high voltage transmission cable. In each move, it is this sense of conversation between architecture and another – the site, the landscape, and the spaces in between- that raises potentials of this project.