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Sustainable construction in Indonesia


Although transforming and rendering Indonesia's construction sector more sustainable in two weeks' time is, of course, an impossible task, you have to start somewhere. In this case, with a PUM advisory mission by Dr Emilia van Egmond - de Wilde de Ligny, expert in innovation and knowledge transfer on sustainability in construction.

This PUM mission is the start of a three-year partnership with Atma Yaya University in Makassar, Sulawesi. And of course, even a PUM expert doesn't have to start from scratch. Emilia: “What I often encounter in countries like Indonesia is that people have always had a lot of basic knowledge about sustainable building techniques, building systems and building materials. When Western techniques are adopted, however, these traditional systems are often discarded, and people forget that they possess knowledge of their own.

Traditional techniques

“During this mission, I pointed out to them their knowledge of traditional techniques and possible combinations with sustainable techniques from the West,” says Emilia de Wilde de Ligny. “Atma Yaya University asked me to assist them in selecting appropriate research topics in the field of sustainable construction. Of course, I will not do that research myself, but it is up to them to pick up what best suits, before proceeding to develop their research further.

‘The students are the future architects, who will be expected to put sustainable building technology into practice in Indonesia.’

During her mission, Emilia collaborated with Stevy Thioritz, who is in charge of the Civil Engineering study programme, and Yudith Mustakim Rambulangi, who (as secretary and lecturer at the same department) watches over the students like a kind of adoptive mother. These students are naturally the mission’s ultimate target group. They are the future architects and structural engineers, who will be expected to put sustainable building technology into practice in Indonesia.

Centre for Innovation

Within the three-year partnership programme between PUM and the university, there is a third partner who takes care of matters beyond the campus. Stevy: “We hope that Emilia will help us to become a centre for innovation in the field of green building materials and sustainable structures. With this goal in mind, we are collaborating with Real Estate of Indonesia, the construction industry association, which is important for the implementation of our research in the future.

Emilia: “It has been a very pleasant and, in my opinion, successful advisory mission so far: one of the building firms is going to adopt an innovative bamboo system in collaboration with the university. This marks the first step towards the achievement of Atma Jaya University's long-standing ambition to both set up a research centre for sustainable construction and to make better use of their laboratory for both students and staff. There nevertheless remain several hurdles to be jumped. I will therefore seek contact with Dutch companies and organisations, with which I will hold further consultations with a view to finding solutions.” 

Emilia van Egmond - de Wilde de Ligny studied architecture at Delft University of Technology, where she attained her PhD in the field of Technology Management and technological capacity in construction. For 25 years, she taught and carried out research at Eindhoven University of Technology, in the field of innovation, technology and knowledge exchange in the construction industry, with a particular focus on innovative building techniques in tropical countries. Prior to that, she worked as an architect/structural engineer in the Netherlands and Ghana. Emilia has already carried out five advisory missions for PUM.