Bittersweet Memories In Design Experience: Sibarani Sofian

On 25th February we have chance to conversed with Mr. Sibarani about his final project and bittersweet life as architect. Here’s the report:

In the midst of his work running studio Urban+, Mr. Sibarani excused himself to share his ‘Titik Awal’ story with us. His skill in drawing which was taught in High School, as well as his ability to memorize entry test questions from 1970-1990, led him to the Department of Architecture of ITB. He chose the school, since for him; architecture would be in line with his parents’ professions who opened building materials shop.

In his way learning the mastery of building, he came into awareness to be more appealed to the system rather than building aesthetics. He thought that architect serves as problem solver. Viewing Mr. Sibarani’s talent in thinking as a whole, (late) Mr. Ahmad Rida ‘Tata’ Sumardi and Mr. Danisworo introduced him to Urban Design. In the last semesters of his study year, the campus condition started to change. Political parties made their way inside. Learning activity had never been the same, because students spent more time protesting and thinking about unstable political condition. Hence, the university gathered some brilliant competent students to finish their education in order for them to graduate before the national crisis. Mr. Sibarani was one of the students volunteering for this program.

Due to his interest in Urban Design, he chose “Fasilitas Komersial yang Terpadu dengan Stasiun Kereta Api Bogor (Bogor Train Station-integrated Commercial Facility)” as his final project. His focus was to improve the quality of Bogor Station region by implementing mixed-use concept and integrating an urban movement system oriented towards pedestrian and public transportation (Transit Oriented Development/TOD). There was a slight misunderstanding with his tutors questioning his ability to complete the wok, due to a massive site leading to complex analyses. Even when his peers had started developing their plans, Mr. Sibarani was still caught up collecting data and analyzing. Aside from his urban-scale project, Mr. Sibarani completed his drawings as required. He managed to be a valedictorian and became the first one to graduate in 4 years at ITB.

Finishing in 4 years didn’t guarantee Mr. Sibarani to easily be accepted for any job. During his graduation, economic crisis was rampaging and companies didn’t allow any vacancies, but firing the then workers. He can never forget, all his achievements becoming the best can never secure your future success should the condition around doesn’t support you. Fortunately, he was accepted to work at Pusat Studi Urban Design (Urban Design Study Center/PSUD) by the reference of (late) Mr. Tata. Afterward, he was granted scholarship to continue his study in the Master of Urban Development and Design in University of New South Wales.

Finishing his graduate study, he worked as an urban designer in some big companies, such as SOM, EDAW, and AECOM. Currently, he is running his own urban design studio. The decision was taken since he wants to be able to better Indonesian cities. His prior working place would never be able to reach all urban developments and designs in Indonesia, due to the limit of project value. By independently opening a studio, he wishes to unboundedly partake in his nation’s advancement. He is grateful that in the last 3 years, government has started to become aware to fix urban systems. Well-known architects who previously worked privately are now included in the urban public spaces design. He hopes to be able to fill the separating gap between planners and architects, to build greater cities.

In the last Bittersweet sessions, Mr. Sibarani also shared his experience working on a project he recently puts his hands into, which is “Fasilitas Komersial yang Terpadu dengan Stasiun Kereta Api Bogor”. It is such a rare opportunity to embody his Final Project into reality.

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