Scholarly article on topic 'Assessing the Quality of Traditional Street in Indonesia: A case study of Pasar Baru Street'

Assessing the Quality of Traditional Street in Indonesia: A case study of Pasar Baru Street Academic research paper on "Social and economic geography"

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Abstract of research paper on Social and economic geography, author of scientific article — Arif Budi Sholihah, Tim Heath

Abstract This paper attempts to assess the quality of a traditional street in Indonesia especially from the diversity indicator and also explores the role of diversity in the quality of life of such urban historical street. A qualitative inquiry is undertaken utilising field observations and in-depth interviews. The findings show four diversity components - land use, retail use, ethnic group, and special skills diversity - contribute to the heterogeneity of the case study. It is also revealed that the ethnic diversity has not only impacted upon the heterogeneity of retail use but also contributes to the innovation of products as a result of a hybrid culture, such as culinary or art products.

Academic research paper on topic "Assessing the Quality of Traditional Street in Indonesia: A case study of Pasar Baru Street"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 234 (2016) 244 - 254

ASEAN-Turkey ASLI (Annual Serial Landmark International) Conferences on Quality of Life 2016

AMER International Conference on Quality of Life, AicQoL2016Medan 25 - 27 February 2016, Medan, Indonesia

Assessing the Quality of Traditional Street in Indonesia: A case study of Pasar Baru Street

Arif Budi Sholihaha,b*, Tim Heatha

aDept of Architecture and Built Environment, University of Nottingham, UK b Dept of Architecture Islamic University of Indonesia, Yogyakarta


This paper attempts to assess the quality of a traditional street in Indonesia especially from the diversity indicator and also explores the role of diversity in the quality of life of such urban historical street. A qualitative inquiry is undertaken utilising field observations and in-depth interviews. The findings show four diversity components - land use, retail use, ethnic group, and special skills diversity - contribute to the heterogeneity of the case study. It is also revealed that the ethnic diversity has not only impacted upon the heterogeneity of retail use but also contributes to the innovation of products as a result of a hybrid culture, such as culinary or art products.

© 2016Publishedby ElsevierLtd. This isanopenaccess article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-reviewunderresponsibilityofthe Association of MalaysianEnvironment-Behavior Researchers, AMER(ABRAmalaysia) Keywords: Diversity; urban quality; traditional street; Indonesia

1. Introduction

In the last few decades, urban design and planning literature have suggested that mixed-use neighbourhoods are a desirable pattern of physical development in urban areas. Indeed, heterogeneity of use will achieve a more vital, vibrant, attractive, safe, viable, and sustainable pattern of urban living. Diversity quality is also amongst the most

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +0-000-000-0000; fax: +0-000-000-0000. E-mail address:

1877-0428 © 2016 Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of the Association of Malaysian Environment-Behavior Researchers, AMER (ABRA malaysia) doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2016.10.240

important factors for people in their choice of place to live. Several studies on Southeast Asian streets (including Indonesia) have indicated that urban streets traditionally function for multiple uses, including for residential, commercial, social, and cultural spaces of the city. However, recent development shows the reduction of the role of traditional streets in Indonesia as mixed-use and vibrant public spaces to be more homogeny in nature, mainly for commercial spaces and the streets to become a purely channel of movement, especially for car-based traffic. For this reason, a study on assessing the quality of a traditional street in Indonesia, mainly from the perspective of diversity quality is important to be conducted before this special kind of urban spaces disappears as a result of rapid development in Southeast Asian urban areas.

The primary aim of this paper is attempted to assess the quality of a traditional street in Indonesia especially from the diversity indicator and also explores the role of diversity in the quality of life of such urban historical street. In order to achieve the primary aim, research objectives are formulated as follows:

1. to demonstrate the role of diversity quality Pasar Baru Street by critically examining the tangible and intangible features of the street

2. to explore the role of diversity quality in the quality of life of the street, including for social interaction, economic activities, and cultural activities along the street spaces and pavements

2. Literature review

Many scholars define urban quality as a complex concept and being multi-dimensional in nature. Some literature only gives an open and fluid 'clue' on urban quality, whereas others use theories, indicators, and components to describe it to the readers (Jacobs (1961), (Lynch, 1981), while others use case studies, which measure its quality in order to give the readers a more clear definition (Rapoport (1990). Kamp et al. (2003) also state that environmental quality is a container concept with different theories related to different aspects of environmental quality and that the concept is multidimensional. The essential element of quality in an urban environment cannot be easily measured or fully identified (Parfect and Power, 1997). Montgomery (1998), on the other hand, suggests that urban quality can be considered in much wider terms than the physical attributes of buildings, spaces, and street patterns whilst Lynch (1981) identifies it as the impact of the relationship of the place and the society which occupies it. Rapoport (1983) also notes that urban quality is not a unitary phenomenon, but it is multidimensional and comprises both 'universal', pan-human aspects, and culture-specific. Further, Parfect and Power (1997) focus on the importance of urban design to achieve high-quality urban places and that quality of places is reflected in the quality of life (Chapman and Larkham, 1999).

2.1. Indicators of urban quality

There are various indicators of urban quality stated in urban design literature. The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs (1961) was one of the earliest texts concerned with the quality of urban areas and stressed a number of key aspects: safety, public contact, mixture of uses, and diversity of ingredients, with four conditions: mixed-use districts, variation of building age, short blocks, and sufficient density. Indeed, Jacobs (1961) was the first to explore urban quality from the premise of activity both producing and mirroring quality in the built environment (Montgomery, 1998).

Trip (2007: 503) summarises a list of the main elements of the quality of place and indicators suggested by Florida and related literature (see Table 1).

Table 1. Main elements of quality of place and indicators suggested by Florida and related literature

Quality Indicator

Diversity Functional diversity, distinctive neighbourhoods, sufficient density

Specific Amenities Individual sport facilities, recreation areas and restaurants per capita; (semi-) public spaces for informal

meetings (third places)

Liveliness: culture Cultural and musical events; live performance venues per capita

Technology: innovativeness Talent

Creativity, bohemia Tolerance; openness Aesthetics

Environment; sustainability Safety

Patents per capita; relative percentage of high-tech output Percentage of people with a bachelor's degree and above Percentage of artistically creative people Relative percentage of foreign-born people; gays Architecture; parks; urban heritage

Natural environmental assets; environmental quality; reuse of older industrial sites Crime figures

(Source: Trip , 2007: 503)

2.2. Diversity as urban quality indicator

On successful city streets, people must be present at different times of day and night. This time is considered on a small scale, hour by hour through the day (Jacobs, 1961). It implies the need for diversity of uses along the streets, in buildings and on the pavements. In the last few decades, urban design and planning literature has suggested that mixed-use neighborhoods are a desirable pattern of physical development in urban areas. It is suggested that a mixture of various land uses will achieve a more vital, vibrant, attractive, safe, viable, and sustainable pattern of urban lifestyle (Mehta, 2007). As the most successful streets are joyful, desirable places to be, to spend time, to walk with leisure (Jacobs, 2010), it is important to provide and design places for people that allow for optional, social, and stationary activities (Montgomery, 2007, Gehl, 1987, Carmona et al., 2010). According to Tarbatt (2012), the characteristic of diversity in an urban context is that it describes difference or heterogeneity, as opposed to homogeneity. This means, of course, that diversity is not a simple 'yes/no', but can be observed to occur at different degrees of intensity and across different sectors of community, economy, and place. As such, diversity can be expressed through the following key indicators:

- Land uses - retail, office, residential, community service, live-work;

- Housing types - apartments, single family dwelling houses, duplex, maisonettes etc.;

- House sizes - measured in terms of bedrooms or bed space;

- Tenure - private sector owned, private sector rental, rent controlled or affordable;

- Urban form - block type, building size and shape, massing;

- Urban grain - plot size and shape; and

- Variety - design (and age) of buildings.

Diversity implies the acceptance of difference. Florida (2002: 226) lists 'diversity' is amongst the most important factors for people in their choice of place to live in. Indeed, many people actively seek out places with diversity and look for signs of it when evaluating communities. This can include signs such as the inclusion of people of different ethnic group and races, different ages, different sexual orientations and alternative appearances such as significant body piercing or tattoos.

Considering all of the mentioned studies, it seems that diversity is one of the key ingredients of good quality of urban spaces. Diverse urban space in many different indicators as stated by Tarbatt (2012) should be highlighted. It is in line to Florida (2002) findings that diverse places are the 'chosen' places for people to live in. Indeed, the degree of diversity may vary from one place to another. However, it is important to note that this urban quality indicator can give a large contribution to realising the most desirable places to be as Jacobs (2010) has been indicated.

3. Methodology

A qualitative inquiry is undertaken utilising field observations and in-depth interviews. The observations were used to record stationary and dynamic activities in the street spaces, including social activities, performing arts, street parades, street vendors, food stalls, etc. through walk-by observations, pedestrian counts, and behavioural

mapping simultaneously. Physical mapping or street measurements were conducted to provide information about the tangible or physical features of the street including land use, building type, plot pattern, tenure, urban form, urban grain, and design of buildings. The method of the interviews in this study was a semi-structured interview, in which several basic questions were prepared by the interviewer and further questions were pre-prepared and further questions were formulated spontaneously during the interviews. Overall there are fifteen interviews consist of four shop owners/retail managers, four visitors, four local government officers, and three street vendors. Most of the interviews were conducted along the street and surroundings, except for the local government officials that were conducted in their offices.

The analysis procedure was a rationale-inductive method and relied on data from the fieldwork as the emerging information (data-led analysis). The emerging themes from the field observation regarding the diversity indicator were analysed as follows:

Table 2. Emerging theme of diversity indicator

No Theme

1. Street pattern and architectural diversity

2. Land use/retail use diversity

3. Ethnic diversity and multicultural space

4. Ethnic diversity and street festivals

5. Ethnic diversity and cuisine

6. Ethnic diversity and special businesses

(Source: Analysis, 2014)

The scope of this study was limited to Pasar Baru Street as a traditional street in Indonesia, and the result, therefore, might not apply to other settings. It can be suggested that further research may apply more than a case study to gain more robust results and comparison/contrasts, such as comparing traditional streets in some Southeast Asian cities or even in other geographical regions or cultural context.

4. Findings and discussions

Pasar Baru was established in 1820 as the main commercial area of Weltevreden, the new Batavia (now Jakarta). Since the beginning of construction, land use in Pasar Baru Street and surroundings have been dominated by mixed-use buildings (commercial and residential) along the main channel and residential buildings in its back alleys. Pasar Baru was originally a Chinese district, as it built within a place of Chinese migrants resided as plantation workers before the Dutch expanded Batavia city to Weltevreden (Kurnia, 2011). Since its establishment, Pasar Baru District has been a melting pot of different ethnic groups including Chinese, Indian, Pakistanis, Japanese, European, and the natives from many parts of Indonesia (The Jakarta Post, 1999). Until today, various ethnic groups with different religious and cultural background are living in this street and surroundings, except for the European and Japanese who have no longer staying in this area after the Indonesian independence in 1945. Most of the Chinese are Kong Hu Chu and Muslims. Meanwhile, the Indian community is Hindus and Buddhists, and the Indonesians are mainly Muslims.

4.1. Street pattern and architectural diversity

The street pattern of Pasar Baru Street consists of a grid-iron type combined with Altstadt type (typical of the core area of old cities) with its organic in form, especially inside the street blocks. The primary street pattern in Pasar Baru Street and its surroundings, however, has never changed, although some additional alleys have appeared. The plot pattern of Pasar Baru Street divides the individual plot into a rectangular configuration where the façade is narrower compared to the length of the building. In general, the façade is 6-8 meters wide and the length of the

building could reach more than 20 meters. The plot pattern in Pasar Baru Street allows the buildings to face onto the main street at the front with service alleys at the rear. The back alleys are smaller in dimension and most of the buildings located along these are residentials and service buildings to serve the shop houses in the main street. In some cases, the plots of the buildings at Pasar Baru have changed, with some plots being merged or amalgamated.

Visual observation identified the diversity of architectural style in Pasar Baru Street. Most of the façade design have transformed from original façade representing their ethnic cultural background, such as Chinese shop houses to a new look of modern façade design. However, the transformation towards modern design is mainly skin covering (addendum) but their original layout remains the same. Kompak shop, Suryo Textile shop, Batik Surya Putih shop, Lee Ie Seng Shop, and Jamu Nyonya Meneer shop are amongst shops that retain their original architecture design.

Fig.1. Pasar Baru Street and Façade Design (Source: Observation, 2014)

Speaking of the existing condition of facade design in Pasar Baru Street, some interview respondents commented on their desire to see the diversity of the original facades, as follows:

'So maybe when I say, I do not pay any attention to the façade, because it was covered by the billboard. In fact, if it can be arranged, then the façade will be more visible to public.' (PB-VIS-004, In-depth Interviews, April 2014)

'... [façade design] already covered by billboards anyway, so it is not pretty anymore, but if [we] look at the old the photographs, it was once great. Suppose in a heritage building, billboard should not cover the façade. Should be, [I] just don't get it why [it happens].' (PB-G0V-002, In-depth Interviews, April 2014)

'.[original façade] has gone, but it depends on the concept [of urban regeneration], if the [new] Gate resembles old buildings, then the [original] façade should be maintained.' (PB-G0V-003, In-depth Interviews, February 2014)

4.2. Land and retail use diversity

Table 3. Building use of Pasar Baru Street in 2014

No Building Use 2014

number Percentage (%)

1. Shoes and Bags 32 24

2. Textiles and Tailor 27 20

3. Jewellery and Watches 17 13

4. Department Stores 7 5

5. Clothing 6 4

6. Restaurants and Karaoke 5 4

7. Art-shop and Music 5 4

8. Optic and Eyeglasses 5 4

9. Sport Shop 5 4

No Building Use 2014

number Percentage (%)

10. Empty/closed down/under construction 5 4

11. Photo Studio 3 2

12. Tailor 3 2

13. Drugstore and Pharmacy 2 1

14. Bookstores and Stationary 1 1

15. Money Changer 1 1

16. Residential 1 1

17. Telecommunication 1 1

18. Bank 1 1

19. Others 7 5

Total 134 100

(Source: Visual Observations, 2014)

'To understand cities, we have to deal with the combination or mixture of uses, not separate uses, as the essential phenomena' (Jacobs, 1961: 188). Table 2 shows the different categories of retail along Pasar Baru Street of which there are 18 categories of retail use. Shoes and Bags shops (32 shops - 24%), followed by Textiles and Tailor (27 shops - 20%), and Jewellery and Watches (17 shops - 13%) are the largest three. They are followed by Department Stores (7 shops - 5%) selling various merchandise, especially clothing and groceries. In addition, buildings at Pasar Baru Street are occupied by some other retail functions with relatively average in percentage (4-5%), i.e. clothing, restaurant, art shops and music, and some empty/closed down or under construction lots. There are also some new functions including a bank and money changer, but the number is quite small (1%). Overall, the building use at Pasar Baru Street reflects the image of Pasar Baru Street as a centre for clothes; shoes and bags; textiles and tailor; and jewellery (see Figure 2). This place is also famous for a place to search for wedding gifts such as high-quality silk and as a centre of fashion offered by traders from various nationalities (The Jakarta Post, 1999).

Shoes and Bags

Fig.2. Retail diversity of Pasar Baru Street (Sources: Observation, 2014)

4.3. Ethnic diversity and multicultural space

The ethnic background of the population living in Pasar Baru has remained diverse since the early formation of this area excluding the Dutch/Europeans that had already left the country after its independence in 1945. The Chinese community remained dominant as the shop owners followed by the Indian and Pakistani communities.

Some local merchants are also renting the shops as well as trading as street vendors. The ethnic diversity of Pasar Barn is also manifested in the religious life of the community. There are two Chinese Temples (Sin Tek Bio Temple and Kuan Im Bio Temple), two Mushallas (small mosques), two Churches (Pniel Church and GKI Church), and a Sikh Temple. Since the 2000s, there are three new worshipping centres for Sai Baba, Graha Sindu, and Hare Krishna for Hindus as seen in Figure 3.

Fig. 3. Religious Building Diversity of Pasar Baru (Sources: Observation, 2014)

The multicultural nature of Pasar Baru, especially related to the ethnic and religious background of the population, might create a cross-cultural interaction that has evolved over a period of time living. It is clear by the existence of religious buildings that are standing side by side, showing the religious tolerance amongst the community living in the area.

4.4. Ethnic diversity and street festivals

Festivals have been historically construed as mechanisms for the communities to express identities, celebrate shared values and strengthen communal bonds (Jackson, 1988; Marston, 1989; Smith, 1996, in Quinn, 2005). Throughout history, a number of street festivals traditionally held in Pasar Baru Street in correlation with the diverse of ethnic groups living in this area. Sinterklasfeest celebration of St Nicholas held every December 5th with the tradition of exchanging gifts amongst people living in Pasar Baru, and Dutch Queen Wilhelmina's Birthday on August 31 enlivened by children's musical performances from schools and local art so-called Tanjidor, and Cap Go Meh on the 15th day of the Chinese New Year which was noted as the most exuberant celebration of all.

The Peh Cun Celebration was traditionally held every fifth day of the fifth month in Chinese calendar. During this event, there was a glorious Dragon boat race of a leafy bamboo stick tied with a handkerchief with a pack of opium in it (Setiati et al., 2009). In the present day, the Chinese New Year and Cap Go Meh still exist and are held annually in this place. In addition, the Jakarta Municipal Government has initiated the Passer Baroe Festival since the 1990s; this is held on the 22nd June each year to commemorate Jakarta's birthday. This is celebrated with exhibitions, parades, music performances, culinary festivals, sailing boat competitions, and a Great Sale in every shop along Pasar Baru Street (DKI Jakarta, 2012). However, the promotion of the Pasar Baru festival still needs to be optimised as captured in the interviews:

'...the promotion of the Pasar Barn Festival is minimal; I don't know why the festival announcement is always late (after a few days)...such a pity.' (PB-RES-001, In-depth Interviews, April 2014)

4.5. Ethnic diversity and cuisine

The creativity potential of Pasar Baru Street also emerges as a result of the diversity of the ethnic groups living in Pasar Baru Street and its surroundings. It is seen from the diaspora of food or culinary culture, for example, the Chinese and Indian cuisine, which has adapted to local taste. Bakmi Aboen and Bakmi Kelinci are some famous examples of Chinese-Indonesian restaurants established in this place, and also some Indian restaurants at the Pintu Air Street at the left side of the street. Tropic Restaurant is one of the old restaurants established in the 1950s and serves hybrid Chinese-European-Indonesian dishes (Kurnia, 2011). The diversity of street food also strengthens the position of Pasar Baru as one of the culinary centres of Jakarta. Local street foods such as Kue Pancong, Kerak Telor, Kue Ape, and also a famous street food called Martabak examples of hybrid street foods from the Indian community living in this area. Indeed, the Pasar Baru cuisine as a product of the cultural hybrid that exists in this place has a significant creativity potential to enhance the economy of the place as well as to boost place identity.

4.6. Ethnic diversity and special skills/businesses

The diverse ethnic group living in Pasar Baru Street has also contributed to the special skills and businesses run in this place. Since its establishment, there have been well known, special skills associated with the community in Pasar Baru, such as the Chinese as shoemakers and the Indians as tailors. These authentic special skills can also become a potential to demonstrate the street creativity. However, these special skills have begun to decline in prominence or have even vanished in recent years. For example, the Chinese shoe shops are no longer making their own products but selling shoes from other factories especially imported brands. In contrast, the Indian tailors, who are now in their third generation, continue to conserve their skills; however, their prominence has also started to decline. This might link to the availability of ready-to-wear clothes in many other shopping areas, and as such the old fashion of the tailor, and also the high prices compared to the mass or ready-to-wear clothes, have led to diminished popularity amongst customers. The special skills potential of Pasar Baru Street should be maintained and safeguarded through innovation, as Landry (2000: 13) argues that 'creativity is a necessary precondition for innovation, but innovation is what counts in maximising the potential of a city\

5. Conclusions and recommendations

The research findings reveal the diversity quality of Pasar Baru Street after critically examining the tangible and intangible feature of the street. Overall, Pasar Baru Street has maintained its local character of diversity in the street pattern, retail use, and special commodities. However, in terms of architectural diversity especially regarding facade designs, many buildings have transformed into a more modern in style, especially through modern materials of facade design (glass and concrete). This finding is in line with the previous study that in the midst of pressure for homogeneity, there seems to be increasing structural pressures on places to become similar everywhere leading to a negative impact on the diversity of place (Townshend and Madanipour, 2008). Thereby, the transformation of many urban traditional streets around the world towards more homogeny in terms of functions, sense, and visual quality needs to be avoided for the future of these particular urban streets.

The research also reveals that Pasar Baru Street offers as a venue for inter-ethnic interaction, a social encounter, and religious harmony. The diversity of religious buildings situated side by side at the same alleys or areas proves the harmonious living; this can be a good example for the future multicultural urban street. The finding shows that Pasar Baru Street is also a place to exhibit each of the cultures through traditional festivals or parade. The existence of diverse kinds of festivals makes this street more familiar and famous for the general public. Thus, the multicultural urban space has contributed to the quality of life through its uniqueness, richness of street culture and venue for various street festivals. However, as recent condition shows the decline of festivity in this street, the attention, especially from the stakeholders, including public participation and local authority needed to be enhanced.

The findings of this study also show that the ethnic diversity has not only impacted upon the heterogeneity of retail use, as traditionally each ethnic has special commodities and special skills (for instance: shoemaker, tailor, etc.). However, they are also contributing to the innovation of products as a result of hybrid culture, such as culinary and art/craft products. These hybrid cultures have implications in terms of economic development as they are also a source of attraction, especially for the tourists. These findings confirm the earlier study that argued 'ethnic diversity and multiculturalism are celebrated in big Asian cities with salutary effects on economic growth, political participation, social harmony and tourism' (Laquian, 1996: 43).

In terms of quality of life, the diversity quality of Pasar Baru Street shows a high quality of urban street as place for social interaction from various ethnic groups living in the area. The findings also reveal the quality of diversity commodities as source for vibrant economic activities. In the end, Pasar Baru Street from the perspective of diversity indicator enhance the quality of life as a place for festivity in the context of Jakarta, especially during the colonial era and place with religious harmony as a result of multicultural urban street. The finding of this study has confirmed the earlier studies that the liveliness and festivity mood in traditional/heritage street is highly depending on its physical, economic, and social activities along the street and how creative the users in occupying the outdoor space in between (Samadi et al., 2012), strong correlation between quality of urban life, and public open space/outdoor environment including urban streets (Eusuf et al. 2014, Nasution and Zahrah, 2014).

The overall unique character of Pasar Baru Street should be seen by the local authority as a good quality that can be the inspiration for future urban revitalisation or regeneration schemes. In terms of policy, the finding of the research highlights the need of proper urban policy to manage the diversity quality of traditional street as important asset of the city. Furthermore, since Pasar Baru Street can be regarded as urban heritage, it is also necessary to formulate conservation planning and action before the heterogeneity is diminished by the rapid development.

Based on the findings of the study, a further study in the form of cross-Indonesian cities and cross-national research of Southeast Asian street is recommended. This further study would enable more comprehensive results on the quality of Indonesian and Southeast Asian street especially regarding the diversity indicator and its role to enhance the quality of life of the urban streets. It can be conducted through a comparative study of several streets in terms of their spatial and visual dimension (tangible), but also for perceptual and socio-cultural dimension (intangible). The cross-national research may help to establish the theoretical discourse regarding the qualities of traditional streets and to recognise their role in the quality of life of the cities.


This study was funded by DIKTI Scholarship Batch 2012, Ministry of Research, Technology, and Higher Education Republic of Indonesia.


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