Six offbeat architecture destinations to visit in Jakarta and Singapore

November 4, 2019



By the BluPrint Team

The ASEAN region is undeniably a treasure trove of architectural sights and scenes. There are the usual tourist magnets: the gravity-defying Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, the stately Monas in Jakarta, Indonesia, and the former WTB, Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur. But as our recent travels have shown, countless hidden gems that boast architectural pedigree, manageable crowds, inspiring deeper appreciation of local culture are just waiting around the corner if you know where to look. We share five architectural gems we’ve uncovered on our recent trip to Jakarta and Singapore that deserves a place in your archi-tinerary!


Aerial of Komunitas Salihara by Davy Linggar and Paskalis Khrisno Ayodyantoro

Komunitas Salihara

Literally off the beaten track, this neo-brutalist performing arts complex along Salihara Street in South Jakarta is a conglomeration of some of the best of Indonesia’s architectural talent, with facilities penned by Andra Matin, Ady Purnomo, Marco Kusumawijaya and Danny Wicaksono. With facilities that cater to dance, music, theater (it has Indonesia’s first and only black box theater) and other allied disciplines, the complex was created to host and inspire the country’s creative minds without the fear of censorship or control as a private institution. Clad in raw concrete, the complex is broken down into chunky volumes serviced by passageways and bridges, with copious greenery interspersed in between. Read up our story on Danny Wicaksono’s first building, Anjung Salihara, in our latest issue.

Komunitas Salihara
Inside Danny Wicaksono’s Anjung Salihara, which houses this double-height artists’ residence and breakout space

bluprint firm and function studio andramatin indonesia
Kopi Manyar, a cafe-gallery managed by architect Andra Matin and two other partners, is housed in what was formerly the architect’s first home, which he rented when he was newly married. The place reminded Andra of his humble beginnings and was very fond of it that the moment the house and lot went on sale, he bought it.

Kopi Manyar

An art gallery? An office? A coffee shop? It’s all of the above. Co-owned by Indonesian architect Andra Matin, and built on the grounds of his previous home, Kopi Manyar is a destination worth the long drive from the city center. Located in the district of Bintaro, a roughly 40-minute drive out from Jakarta, the coffee shop is housed in an all-white structure, whose modest entrance belies the whimsical play on levels, textures and spatial planning inside. With more courtyards than you can imagine possible within its narrow lot, punctuated with intriguing sculptures, a revolving exhibit, and of course, the tempting aroma of coffee and tea, Kopi Manyar is a beguiling sampler of the oeuvre of its renowned creator.

bluprint firm and function studio andramatin indonesia
The entryway to the cafe currently hosts an exhibit mounted by Andra on the studio’s biggest project so far: the masterplan of Tubaba in Lampung province. Suspended displays, mounted renders and maquettes acquaint guests with the story behind this ambitious undertaking.

Gothic in the Tropics. The Jakarta Cathedral by Antonius Dijksmans, SJ

Katedral Jakarta

A relatively quieter presence along Jalan Katedral, and situated right across the majestic modernism of Istiqlal Mosque, ­­­The Church of Our Lady of Assumption is a neo-Gothic confection that has stood its ground for centuries in mostly Muslim Jakarta. Rebuilt after a fire by Antonius Dijkmans, SJ in 1901, the cathedral has survived wars and natural disasters, and incorporates the use of local teak in anticipation of strong tremors. The beautiful vaulted ceiling of the cathedral is finished in polished teak, with the pews incorporating solihiya-like weaves.

In lieu of decorative trompe l’oeil, the Jakarta Cathedral’s ceiling vaults are clad in teak laid out in geometric patterns. 


The iconic stepped form of the Golden Mile Complex

Golden Mile Complex

Considered an innovative architectural achievement when completed in 1973, the Golden Mile Complex has sadly not aged well and is considered an eyesore by many; news of an impending demolition has been floating around in recent years. However this metabolist-brutalist landmark is still a must visit for fans of the style, where one can still appreciate DP Architects’ iconic and tropically-responsive stepped form for the structure, which makes possible a large atrium underneath called ‘the city living room.’ An experimental take on creating a vertical city, the structure’s spatial programming was eventually disregarded as its population grew and with its inhabitants making wanton additions here and there. The structure still stands today and is now a haven for Thai goods and businesses.

The Golden Mile Complex, while derided by locals as an eyesore, has some prominent architect fans, such as critic and Brutalist scholar Reyner Banham and Pritzker Laureate Fumihiko Maki.

Peninsula Plaza’s distinctive arches echo the gothic geometries of the nearby St. Andrew’s Cathedral while its massing respects the building height of its important civic neighbors.

Peninsula Plaza

Known locally as Little Burma for the plethora of Burmese establishments it houses, the Peninsula Plaza was the work of inaugural Singapore Institute of Architect gold medalist and architecture pioneer Alfred Wong. Completed in 1980, the complex’s distinctive arched façade and tiled skin engages and respects the presence of its important neighbors, City Hall, the Supreme Court and St. Andrew’s Cathedral. The arched windows actually appear to echo the gothic forms of the neighboring cathedral, but at the same time expressing the chunky volumes and imposing presence of a brutalist structure.

Peninsula Plaza is locally known as ‘Little Burma’ for the plethora of Burmese shops and establishments it houses.

Paul Rudolph’s The Colonnade, near Grange Road, Singapore. Stacked living modules are supported by a forest pillars, lending the structure a pixelated appearance.

The Colonnade 

Singapore has been blessed with two towers by modernist meister Paul Rudolph, the first being The Concourse in Beach Road, and its quieter sibling, The Colonnade, hidden in the mostly-residential confines of Grange Road. Resembling Moshe Safdie’s Montreal 67 but with living modules piled vertically and taller, this eye-catching condominium was said to have been the fruition of a conceptual design Rudolph has always wanted to carry out in the US but was deemed impossible at the time. Pour-in-place concrete was utilized to produce the living units, with plentiful balconies and open spaces in every level.

Locating these landmarks, getting there, and communicating with the team overseas was a breeze through the consistent and reliable performance of our Big Sky Nation portable Wi-Fi devices. With fast internet speeds, stellar battery performance, and a portable form, Big Sky Nation’s suite of connectivity solutions was the perfect partner for our demanding communication requirements during our recent travels to Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. Get connected here:

Photographed by Ed Simon

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