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Reporting from andramatin’s “Elevation”, Awardee of the Special Mention in the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale

andramatin, the Jakarta-based firm headed by architect Andra Matin has been awarded one of the two Special Mentions by the jury of the 16th International Exhibition FREESPACE. This marks the first time that an Indonesian architect has been awarded in the Venice Architecture Biennale.

andramatin’s exhibition, located at Arsenale Corderie, is titled ‘ELEVATION‘ and explores the elevational diversity in Indonesia’s vernacular architecture.

As an archipelago that stretches over 5,000 kilometres wide and spanning some 17,500 islands, the geography of Indonesia varies from coastal areas to highlands reaching 4,800 metres above sea level. Throughout that width and breadth, numerous distinct cultures and ethnic groups respond the geography with their vernacular architecture.

The title ‘ELEVATION’ is a play on the meanings ‘elevation’ as a height difference and ‘elevation’ in the architectural sense as the horizontal projection of buildings.

The installation by andramatin takes the form of an intricately woven rattan shroud encompassing a spiral staircase made of Jabon wood (Neolamarckia cadamba). Visitors are able to journey along this staircase of various heights and see an exhibition of elevations of various vernacular houses in Indonesia.

The jury awarded ‘ELEVATION’ for being “a sensitive installation that provides a framework to reflect on the material and form of traditional vernacular structures.”

The intricately woven shroud of ‘ELEVATION’. Photo by Imelda Akmal for ARCHINESIA

 

The staircase made of Jabon wood, where visitors can see various vernacular houses. Photo by Imelda Akmal for ARCHINESIA

 

The pavilion features models of vernacular Indonesian houses. Photo by Imelda Akmal for ARCHINESIA

 

Inside the ‘ELEVATION’ pavilion’s central staircase. Photo by Imelda Akmal for ARCHINESIA

 

Don’t miss the installation’s subtle entrance door at the Arsenale Corderie. Photo by Imelda Akmal for ARCHINESIA

 

Update: Watch a video of the inner spaces of ‘ELEVATION’ below!

The following is the description of ‘ELEVATION’ as provided by andramatin:

From Sabang to Merauke, thousands of islands rise up out of the sea to form Indonesia—home to abundant natural treasures, highly diverse ethnicities, and lands seeped in history. On the equatorial line, the many regions of Indonesia provide a fertile ground where different natural environments, languages, cultures and religious beliefs flourish. Indonesian vernacular architecture is forced to share one common design intention: the need to survive in tropical climate. However, the houses are distinctively different in many architectural aspects. The elevation of the house is one major feature that varies from one region to another.

There are houses built directly on top of the ground, sometimes with nothing but dried grass as flooring. Some of the houses are raised just a few steps above the ground. There are many regions where houses are raised and supported by pilotis. This practice often stems from the spiritual beliefs of the locals, but it is also done in order to anticipate or deal with environmental threats such as floods or wild animals. Some inhabitants of traditional houses use the space below the raised floor of their elevated structures to house their livestock or store their food. In a few cases, the houses are raised to even more extreme heights—they may be placed on treetops as high as 10 meters above the ground.

The varying elevation styles of Indonesian vernacular architecture provide different vantage points and perspectives, allowing those who inhabit them to gain different spatial experiences. When the needs of people pose questions, vernacular architecture is created to provide answers. These answers respond to the way people interact with nature and their culture—because of the differences in these interactions, a unique character is imbued into each freespace in which people dwell.

This pavilion highlights elevation, a central element in many vernacular forms. Elevational diversity in Indonesian vernacular architecture reflects the diverse environmental conditions within this country. The pavilion translates elevational diversity into a spatial sequence, showcasing the spatial anatomy of Indonesian vernacular architecture.This acts as a medium which attempts to simulate the elevation as a freespace element within the Indonesian vernacular architecture.

andramatin’s ‘ELEVATION’ is open to public at the Arsenale Corderie as part of the FREESPACE International Exhibition in Venice Architecture Biennale, from May 26 to November 25, 2018.

Article by Dinda Mundakir

Quoted description of ‘ELEVATION’ provided by andramatin

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