Scholarly article on topic 'The Sustainability Concept of Alun-alun as a Model of Urban Design in the Future'

The Sustainability Concept of Alun-alun as a Model of Urban Design in the Future 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 — R. Siti Rukayah, Totok Roesmanto, Sukawi

Abstract Dutch researcher has discovered the ruins of the open space as the center the cosmic city in Majapahit kingdom (century 13). The development of cities in Java were still using the concept as reference until Soekarno's era (the first president). He used the concept to create a new square as for substitute the loss of the old square in the Semarang city. Symptoms may inadvertently reference as the concept of sustainability in the downtown city expansion and development of the new city center in the future. It is possible to make cooperation with Japan and Thailand that have a similar root of historic.

Academic research paper on topic "The Sustainability Concept of Alun-alun as a Model of Urban Design in the Future"

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Social and Behavioral Sciences

Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 85 (2013) 626 - 637 ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

AcE-Bs 2013 Hanoi ASEAN Conference on Environment-Behaviour Studies Hanoi Architectural University, Hanoi, Vietnam, 19-22 March 2013 "Cultural Sustainability in the Built and Natural Environment"

The Sustainability Concept of Alun-Alun as a Model of Urban Design in the Future

R. Siti Rukayah a*, Totok Roesmantob, Sukawib

aArchitecture Departement, Engineering Faculty, University of Diponegoro _bJl. Soedharto,SH., Tembalang, Semarang, 50275, Indonesia_


Dutch researcher has discovered the ruins of the open space as the center the cosmic city in Majapahit kingdom (century 13). The development of cities in Java were still using the concept as reference until Soekarno's era (the first president). He used the concept to create a new square as for substitute the loss of the old square in the Semarang city. Symptoms may inadvertently reference as the concept of sustainability in the downtown city expansion and development of the new city center in the future. It is possible to make cooperation with Japan and Thailand that have a similar root of historic.

© 2013TheAuthors. Published by ElsevierLtd.

Selection and peer-review under responsibility of Centre for Environment-Behaviour Studies (cE-Bs), Faculty of Architecture, Planning & Surveying, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia

Keywords: Java; open space; Semarang; city center

1. The sustainable of traditional square

Some researchers have conducted a study on the sustainability of the Javanese traditional square from Majapahit era (13th century), the era of the Islamic spreading (13-16th century) - Mataram Islam (15th century), the Colonial Era (16th century), Post-Independence until now. However, some studies have not reached the above symptoms that occur in the city of Semarang. In 1969, Soekarno (the first president of the Republic of Indonesia), created a new square to replace the loss of the old square. The square is now evolving into downtown. Therefore, it is very important for us to learn from it. From symptoms

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +628122812825; fax: +0-000-000-0000 . E-mail address:

1877-0428 © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Selection and peer-review under responsibility of Centre for Environment-Behaviour Studies (cE-Bs), Faculty of Architecture, Planning & Surveying,

Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia


researchers want to uncover new knowledge about the concept of sustainability of open space in urban sprawl. Indeed, if we compare with the initial concept of the traditional square, there is a difference. The initial concept of the traditional square is the cosmic center. Maclain Pont, Dutch researchers, in 1924 found the ruins of the capital of the kingdom of Majapahit in Trowulan and then described it. According to Inajati, 2000, there was no town planning drawings left behind. However, the concept of traditional square forwarded by the next ruler in the era of the Islamic Mataram (Surakarta and Yogyakarta palace in the 15th century). At that time the concept of cosmic city used as reference for some royal cities in Southeast Asia. Situated in a strategic area which are located between China and India (two centers of culture and commerce). Southeast Asia became the transit trade across the ocean to date. The influence of Indian culture to the people of Southeast Asia is huge, especially on the concept of state, government and kingship. This influence marks the founding of the country - Hindu Buddhist countries in Southeast Asia.

In Java, we can see the application of the concept traditional square of Hindu Majapahit capital city Trowulan. Indeed, the authorities at the time did not leave town plan drawing. Yet the kingdoms in the next era as Demak, Islamic Mataram followed this pattern (age 13-16). The city central characterized by the presence of the square, the center of government and religious buildings. In the era of the spread of Islam, this concept seem to be adopted but of course adapted to the mindset of the rulers at the time. The Muslim missionaries who stopped and settled in the towns along the northern coast of Java (age 13-15) form a pattern similar to the city. In the Dutch colonial period, they use the features of the city to design the cities of the county in Java (16th century). In the post-independence era, Soekarno applied the concept of the traditional square to replace the loss of the old square. He said that the traditional square was characteristic of Javanese city center. His idea has become the new centers of activity in the development of Semarang city to the Southern.

1.1. Research question

Symptoms that naturally occur in Semarang can be a matter of research on the concept of urban sprawl. Indeed, the fact of the concept of urban open space did not continue in the New Order regym era. When cities experiencing urban sprawl, not accompanied by the addition of the concept urban open space as the binder. How is the concept of sustainability urban open space in the future?

1.2. The purpose of research

In accordance to the serial developing of open spaces in Semarang city, reseachers will study how sustainability of urban space as a system development in the city.

1.3. The benefit of research

Researchers will find the local concept of position urban space as a system in the city development. New theory/ concept about urban space as a system in the city can be used to determine the center of the city / capital in the urban sprawl.

2. Mix method, historical and naturalistic approach

In order to unravel the concept of the square in Java from time to time, researchers used a method of historical research. Researchers used a tool to uncover the old data through ancient maps. The development of Semarang city indicate a continuous urban open space. Researchers also conducted a naturalistic method to see the symptoms in the present, Muhadjir, 2000. Some open space heritage cities

listed on the map can still be traced to the location and development. In this study the researchers used ancient maps and images complement the data not only as text, but as a tool to analyze the mindset at the time. Using predictions of future researchers will be able to uncover the developmentally morphological open spaces of the city. Researchers used a mixed method. Indeed, some researchers consider if they use this method they will find a jumping analysis. However, according to Rideneour, 2008, mixed method try to combining the points from the several data become a clear picture.

3. Theories regarding the city center

3.1. City center

Cosmic city by Kostov, 2005, is a city located in the imaginary axis. The purpose of the founding of the city in the right line of the imaginary axis is to provide a positive energy to the lives of its people. A center of the royal capital city is the center of politics, culture and government. In this cosmis concept states that the capital is a manifestation of Mount Meru in the concept of microcosm. So the magical capital city is the center of an empire. Indeed, this concept is now rarely found in modern design. Research in the development of the city states that the concept of the town center has a strategic value. Some experts claimed the development of the city such as concentric theory of Burgess (1925), based on the theory sector concentric theory of Burgess, Hoyt (1939), the theory of multiple nuclei of geographers Chauncy Harris and Edward Ullmann (1945) and the historical and structural models, Allonso (1964). The experts revealed the distribution and use of city center concept. Spatial sequence consists of commercial activities, industrial and then residential. Strategic areas such as downtown (Central Bussiness District), the node distribution of circulation and transport economics, considered to be the maximum profit as commercial functions. In theory it seems that the downtown location has a strategic aspect of the city. In development now, as an effort to anticipate the world in the face of global climate change, government give full attention for the concept of urban open space. Similarly, in Indonesia. Ministry of Public Works is currently promoting Green Cities Development Program. One of that program has a goal to improve the quality of urban open space in order to ensure its sustainability. The program implements the realization of green open space minimum 30 percent. (Implementation of Law 26/2007 on Spatial Planning with details of public green open space and 20 percent private green space 10 percent). From the above explanation, the researchers conclude that the definition of open space in the town center are experiencing developmental significance. In the concept of cosmic city, modern city, and when the whole world is facing global climate change, we face the reality of the importance of open space in the city center. That was true if our ancestors not just designed the city simply by placing it on the surface of the earth. But they designed it as an attempt to harmony with the universe.

3.1. Java city center

3.1.1. Empire era: artificial macrocosm to prosperity

As part of the Southeast Asia regions, Geldern, 1972, stated that the cities have a concept of cosmic city. As a busy trade route, the design of his city leaved the pattern that has a relationship between Southeast Asia with India and China. Similarly in Java. Royal town planning concepts adhered pattern cosmis city. According to Santoso, 1981, the lay out of the city has a Northern-Southern axis, square at the center of the city, palace, buildings of worship and markets. Royal monarch set the city as a model depicting the small universe and the big universe (Macrocosm and Microcosm), Geldern, 1972. The concept is an attempt of the king to align the city arrangement relationship with the Universe. Dutch researcher (Maclains Pont from year 1924 to 1926) redrawing downtown Trowulan city ruins. Until now

we all suspected that picture as the capital of the kingdom of Majapahit. Majapahit was a famous empire in the archipelago in the 13th century to 15 M. Prapanca, in the old book Nagarakretagama, stanzas VIII-XII gave an explanation about Majapahit kingdom. Although the information in the old book is less obvious, but still easy for researchers to capture the traditional square as the center of the city. By designing cities in the imaginary axis that leads to the North-South (mount-sea), ruler of the kingdom made an effort to harmonize the balance with the universe. This command will provide safety for its citizens. Japan (Kyoto), Bangkok (Krung Thep) also determines the capital of the kingdom through the concept of cosmology.

a. Map Majapahit capital. Mc laint Pont describes the ruins of the city Trowulan

c. Map of Yogyakarta sultanate capital

b. Map of Surakarta sultanate capital

d. Map of Kyoto

Fig. 1. Cosmic City, Majapahit, Surakarta, Yogyakarta, Kyoto (Japan). The concept of the Majapahit capital became a reference in the development of the capital of the empire in the later era. Source: researcher's analysis (2013)

3.1.2. Islamic era: central government and the public space for spreading Islam

In the era of the spread of Islam, the emperor determined the lay out of the city were not based on the concept of cosmology (Rukayah, 2005). Reseacher stated the city concept based on heritage cities that became a transit area for Muslim traders along the north coast of the island of Java, the eastern side of Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi. According to Tjandrasasmita, 2000, based on news from the ancient sailor, Ma Huan (14 century) and Tome Pires (15-16 century), stated that there were some locations as an important port. Some of the city grew into a city of the Sultanate of Islam. According to Graaf, 1974, sultanate as the role of goverment and religious with the tittle panatagama. So the the mosque on the western and the palace in Southern have a function as an institution that managed all activities in the square. However, the patterns of the city were not a picture of the macrocosmic and microcosmic ( Rukayah, 2012 a). Researchers reveal the alleged basis of some old maps of Semarang and Banten. From the map in the two cities, researchers raised a conclution that the square was an open field. The role of the sultan as a religious leader and as a government, needs open space to accommodate many people as followers. Moreover if we look at the map of the ancient port city and sultanate on the northern coast of Java, we find city layout that naturally used Northern-Southern axis to face circulation path (sea/ river), Heuken, 1997. Researcher can use the urban spatial of Jepara city center for strengthen that statement. Indeed, some researchers claimed that the city layout still use the cosmic concepts as refference. The city axis of Jepara were along the position of the mountain on the Eastern side and the sea on the Western side. There may be truth in this argument anyway. However, researchers are not agree with the theory. Some experts estimated that in long time ago mount Muria was a volcanic island separated from the mainland island of Java. A Dutch sailor described Jepara city with mosques. It clearly visible against the backdrop of mount Muria. Based on old pictures, the mosque was in the middle of an open field. In the present the location of the mosque in the southern of the square. If the estimated location of the palace overlooking the sea, the position is in the eastern side. The city spatial axis is different from another city along the city in northern coastal of Java. Researchers find that the city concept is a waterfront city that allows the sailors to see easily to the downtown.

a.The map of Java (1729)

b. Differences in the spatial axis in the center of Java and in the city of Jepara

Fig. 2. Differences in the spatial axis in the center of towns and cities in Java Jepara. Source: Researcher analysis ( 2013)

Thus the rulers created the pattern of city center similar to the concept of waterfront. Ruler arrangeed and placed an open space facing the sea / rivers for transportation. By the way the location of the mosque and the palace has a visual clarity for sailors. It can be seen on the old map and old sketch of Jepara and Banten.

a. Jepara city view and the Great Mosque of the sea painted Netherlands on instructions b.Masjid agung Jepara.

from Wouter Schouten View from Sea on the City of Japare (today:Jepara) ca. 1650, Source: Wikipedia


c.View of Bantam by Valentijn, F.(1726)

Fig. 3. Picture of a city that has the concept of waterfront. Jepara city and Banten had open field ahead. Thus, the visual outlook of the building was located behind the square will be clearly seen by sailors from a distance. Source: Analyisis by Researcher (2013)

3.1.3. Colonial era: public space

The government of Dutch colonialism in Indonesia used the indirect rule system of central government / Governor-General, assisted by a citizen, also used native officials to deal directly with the public. Officials from the natives was a regents that oversees the district. Dutch Colonial designed the city center in Java by adopting the physical elements of traditional city. In the book Encyclopedie van Netherlands Indies (Paulus, 1917 in Handinoto, 1992), there is an explanation of alun-alun as follows:

In almost every residence Regents, a district chief in Java, people always find the existence of a

broad lawn, surrounded by banyan tree in the middle. Field is called alun-alun.............................

Mosques are often adjacent to the West of the square.

Dutch colonial era developed model of traditional square in the city along the Northern coast of Java. In this era, the function of traditional square concept shifted as a public space and administrative center ( Rukayah, 2012 b)

3.1.4. Soekarno era: the character of the city in Java

In the post-independence era of 1945, Soekarno (the first president) also donated artificial concept of the traditional square. When he visited Semarang in 1953 to inaugurate the Tugu Muda, he initiated a field as a substitute for the loss of the old traditional square. They choosed Simpang Lima, a vacant area between the old town and urban development to the southern. Actually goverment in 1959 planned two-dimensional drawing for the region. According to him, the loss of the old square means to eliminate the characterize of traditional town in Java. Soekarno gave a new function of the square as a forum for the union leaders and the people. We can expect that after the escape of the Dutch colonialism era was a difficult time to establish a state. Conditions of the country in this position has the opportunity to divide the people. The ability of speech is a political force to unify the community. Speech is of course requires a town hall that can accommodate people in large quantities. He choosen the square as a space to spech. In the Islamic Mataram era, square was a symbol of the king to met with his people. As an architect, understand the glory of the kingdom of Mataram Islam inspired him to make an open field as a meeting place for leaders and people. The idea of 'field Simpang Lima' appeared in 1965 and the government built it in 1969. Field was create as a public meeting that can accommodate one million people (Sadono 1992). Soekarno still put the mosque as the elements that characterize central Java town on the west side of the square.

. Dewan Mangkubumi convened in Banten Square

b. Great Meeting at Lapangan Gambir

c. The people met with the leaders during the inauguration of the monument in the lapangan Bunder Malang

d. Simpang Lima Semarang, designed on the basis of the idea of Soekarno to be a public meeting that can accommodate one million people

Fig. 4. The concept of open space as a forum for leaders to meet with people. Source: Researcher's analysis (2013)

3.1.5. Orde Baru era

The continuity concept of traditional square / alun-alun from time to time persisted in the history of urban development in Java. Since the Majapahit era to the post independence era of the traditional town center concept has sustainability. Unfortunately, in the New Order regym era, the government did not take the wisdom of the symptoms to increase open space in the city of Semarang. Thus, the researchers conduct the research in the city of Semarang. Researcher will explain the efforts of government to planned an open space in a system of city development not only to created as a clone of the traditional square.

3.1.6. Continuity the concept of alun-alun from time to time

From the theoretical discussion above, the researchers obtained the conclusion that the government developed a town center in accordance with the needs of the era. From the turn of the era rulers, traditional squares have evolved over time. Although initially that the city square is cosmic center, but in its development is no longer use a cosmic city concept. The square has the ability to survive from time to time. Thus, we still need the concept of the square for urban design in the future. This concept is a portrait of how an open space not only serves as a public space, but also has a function as forming the harmony of nature and a meeting place for leaders with their citizens.

4.The system of urban open space in Semarang

Researchers sent a part of this material in popular science writing competition in 2012, Faculty of Engineering, Diponegoro University of Semarang. Contest theme was about green concepts. Researchers will test the concept in the case of Semarang city. Actually, the Soekarnos idea to create a new open space that initialy to replace the old one have a positive effect . However, in the process of Semarang city development, it appears that the location for the new square grew into the new city center. This location can quickly increase the value of land in the development area to the southern of Semarang city. The addition of open space became a continuous open space system. That was the right concept for the government to undertake the development of the city.

A map of the origin of Semarang city cannot be said as a city as current conditions. Researchers could describe it as a small hamlet on the edge of a small river called kali Semarang. This place is a strategic location for foreign traders and settlements. In the 16th century Ki ageng Pandanaran designed Semarang city center with the spatial concept that similar to the system of Islamic sultanates along the northern coast of Java. He was the first regent as well as a propagator of Islam in Semarang.

Dutch colonial (16th century) changed the traditional concept of urban spatial structure. Dutch colonial created some traditional downtown, especially at the center of the indigenous government. In the city of Semarang, in the period 1700 - 1906, they transfered the Dutch military activities to Semarang from Jepara (I Pakubowono Sunan agreement of 1 October 1705). As a result of this displacement emerged a new social life near the traditional town center. Dutch established Fort in adjacent to the natives city center. The old town center, which has a concept of the traditional city lost its shape, when the Dutch colonial developed the city to the western (now we called kawasan Bulu). In this area, the colonial government established an open space called Wilhelmina Plein. (In 1930, this field unity together into a round and in 1953, the government built Tugu Muda). Researchers conclude that the indigenous and colonial rulers always create new open space in the city development. The third phase, Semarang city was developed to the southern. Tio 2014, stated that Thomas Karsten planned the development of new areas in hilly Candi Baru (1916). He has designed completely that area with roads and open spaces in Diponegoro garden. The fourth stage, Soekarno designed the addition of an open space in the Simpang Lima. This area located between the old city center and the new development to the southern. When we

viewed on a map of old Semarang, the new downtown location was in the center of Semarang city . The serial formation of urban open space in the Semarang city, it can be set binding region in the urban sprawl. This phenomenon only happens at the beginning of the development of Semarang era to Soekarno era (post-independence). Unfortunately, the New Order regym era was not continuing these phenomenon. When Semarang area experienced expansion up and reclamation to the northern coast in 1976, the government did not increase the amount of open space as a binding to integrate the city. The conclusion of the symptoms that occur in Semarang city is a knowledge of the concept of open space as a living history of sustainable development in the history of Semarang city. The concept is expected to be complete knowledge of the system of urban open space in the city expansion.

Researchers hope that the city's open space system will become a complement theory of the open space in the development of the city. The system is also able to answer the program the Ministry of Public Works, which initiated the Green Cities Development Program. If the government always adopt the addition of open space in the development of his town, certainly the needs of green open space in the urban scale will be fulfilled. As a continuation of this study, the researcher needs to extend the focus on the area of open space to the extent of urban sprawl. Thus, the researchers expect that one of the attributes as a green city for the development of cities in the future can be achieved. Best practise from natural phenomenon in the development of Semarang city is the location of open space on land owned by the city government. In the structure of an open space between the new and old cities have a linkage structural. Thd city formed will have a function as a binding space of the old city with the new city. Symptoms that occur in Semarang city is the knowledge about the concept / system / model of the sustainability of urban open spaces in city expansion.

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Fig. 5. The serial development of urban open spaces in Semarang city Source: Analysis by researcher (2013)

5. Conclusion

The researchers can use Semarang city that has a system of sustainable open spaces. Old square (1418), an open space at the Tugu Muda (1900), Garden Diponegoro in Candi baru (1930) and Simpang Lima (1970), were became a central in the city expansion. From the phenomenon, the researcher could provide new knowledge as a supplement concept of green open space in the context of urban sprawl, especially from the aspect of location determination. The evolution of traditional square in Java from time to time, raised a concept of sustainability according to the era of the development authority. Traditional open space character that appears in every era is a concept that suits for urban life in that era. The process of formation of the character of the urban open space in every era became a city character of some cities in Java. The ssymptoms that appear in Semarang proved that in the future development of the city need the concept urban open space system as a tool to integrate the old and new areas.

6. Recommendations

The square is the traditional concept of open space that has a local character and have been able to survive in the long era of the turn of the ruler. Therefore, researchers and urban designers can use the concept as to design a new city center in the urban expansion in the future. This study opens a gap research as a follow-up study of the ideal size for an open space in the development of the city. Moreover, it is an opportunity for collaborative research between countries that have similar historical roots and has a royal heritage as the city of cosmic concepts, such as collaboration with Japan and Thailand.


Researchers would like to special thank for archives agency Semarang (Badan Arsip Daerah Kota Semarang) that provides copies old Semarang city map.


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