Webinar on “Envisioning Indonesia’s New Capital Through Sustainable Design”

In this webinar, Mr Sibarani Sofian, master builder of the team behind the winning design proposal for Indonesia’s new capital, takes the audience through their plans for the highly anticipated urban development project. It is the second webinar in a two-part series on Indonesia’s new capital project.


Monday, 30 November 2020 — Mr Sibarani Sofian, founder and director of architectural practice URBAN+, was invited to present the overall vision and principles of Indonesia’s new capital city to be built in East Kalimantan. As the appointed chief architect of the project, Mr Sofian has been deeply involved in the overall design of the city. The session was moderated by Ms Melinda Martinus, Lead Researcher of the ASEAN Studies Centre in ISEAS.

Mr Sibarani Sofian
Mr Sibarani Sofian explained how the new capital will display a united Indonesian identity while introducing transformative ways of living, working and travelling. Ms Melinda Martinus moderated the webinar. (Credit: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

Mr Sofian began by outlining his team’s winning design proposal to the Indonesian government. The design objective was to lift up the regional economy and livelihoods in Kalimantan and Borneo, while serving as the national centre. The new capital is also designed to balance economic growth with environmental, infrastructure and mobility considerations.

The project will encompass the government city and its five satellite cities, which will altogether hold a projected population of 1.2 million in an area of 56 hectares. An axis of development has been planned to stretch from a hilly region with the theme of “God”, through a section dedicated to “People”, down to the waterfront where “Nature” is emphasised — symbolising harmony between the three. Central to the design is a model that reflects Indonesia’s archipelagic nature, in the form of intertwining networks of blue and green spaces through the city which will counteract its heat and humidity. Mr Sofian explained how the new capital will display a united Indonesian identity while introducing transformative ways of living, working and travelling. For instance, living and working spaces will be more open and communicative, with fewer physical barriers, more direct connections between buildings and greater focus on public transport.

He continued by providing updates on the design as his team worked with the Ministry of Public Works and Housing over the past year. One major change is that the proposed area of development was moved to higher ground to avoid the flood-prone coastal area, as well as mangroves and other sensitive natural spaces. Mr Sofian emphasised that the design will embrace the relatively rougher terrain and preserve features of the landscape, in keeping with a harmonious relationship with nature. There had also been further discussions on making the capital future-ready by incorporating smart infrastructure, Internet of Things and artificial intelligence into the management of traffic flow and waste. The team has developed close to 100 Key Performance Indicators for social, ecological, connectivity, infrastructure and ICT assessment. The next step is to draw out clearer roadmaps to achieve these goals.

The webinar drew an audience of 69 participants from both Singapore and abroad. During the question and answer session, Mr Sofian elaborated further on details such as decarbonisation, urban inequality solutions, the impact of COVID-19 and plans for tourism. Though there were many challenges and dilemmas, he remarked that this project is also a valuable opportunity to plan an effective and future-ready city from a blank slate.  

Almost 70 participants attended the webinar. (Credit: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)