Gelora Bung Karno is known as the largest sports complex in Indonesia. As part of renovation efforts prior to Asian Games 2018, walkways leading to the main stadium has been redesigned to capture the spirit of modern sportsmanship. We have created 12 metal sculptures for the Eastern Plaza, which is designed to be an open-air museum drawing inspiration from communal spaces and amphitheaters.
We collaborated on the project with architects Han Awal & Partners and metalworks manufacturer Malka. We took the location of East Plaza in its most literal form, analogizing it with the sun rising. Our sculptures are arranged in such a way that they form a silhouette pointing upwards at the inner end of the plaza.
This project allowed us to reflect upon the dynamics of collaborating with other firms, which have a prior conceptualization of the project, and very different niches. To find uniformity over such a diverse range of capabilities, we found elements within each firm’s capability that we could incorporate in our final design, paying mind to cultural relevance, material malleability and functional use.
The initial design for the four walkways leading to the main stadium involved tiling inspired by traditional Indonesian patterns, which we adapted for the sculptures, so the patterns could be produced by laser-cutting on metal. We also translated these patterns into simpler dotted lines to accentuate the figures. We took artistic liberty with proportional anatomy to depict dynamic, energetic figures, elongating arms and legs where needed.
Since the sculptures are displayed in a prominent public space, we had to step carefully in terms of aesthetic choices to avoid associations with political parties or figures. We realized that politics influences design heavily, especially with regards to colour. As a result, we decided on neutral hues and gender-neutral figures for our sculptures. We wanted to make these sculptures representative of all people, highlighting the inclusivity of sports.
From a functional perspective, we decided on hollow bases to preserve the airiness of the space and as to not distract attention away from the primary spectacle: the main stadium. Hollow bases also prevent acts of vandalism and other unscrupulous activities. This is in line with behavioural theories of architecture, designing delinquency out of the picture.
This project pushed us to reflect on the subtle nuances of design – it is much more than simply visually appealing, but must encompass the hidden meanings behind each aesthetic choice.
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