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Wisnu and his wife, Tri Sundari live in a suburb (Bekasi) of Jakarta, Indonesia. The couple clearly have a sense of architectural adventure and considering that the first house in Bekasi proved better for insects than humans—it was uncomfortable, badly designed, and infested with termites—they thought it was time to shop around.

Djuhara + Djuhara, the firm Ahmad runs with his wife, Wendy, designed several high-profile bars and restaurants in central Jakarta, and as chair of the Jakarta chapter of the Indonesian Institute of Architects, Djuhara helped to modernize the city’s rather draconian planning regulations. His first attempt at a suburban house—the one that caught Wisnu’s eye—was startlingly original and cocked a snook at critics who claim that young Indonesian architects only work on luxury hotels.

When Wisnu and Djuhara met, Djuhara was intrigued by the project’s budgetary and physical limitations. He took the job and responded to the architectural free hand the couple gave him by tearing down the existing house in preparation for realizing his climatic and aesthetic vision.

After razing the original structure, Djuhara commenced his new design, sourcing 90 percent of the materials from within a half-mile radius of the site Partially due to the elimination of shipping costs, the whole project cost approximately $20,000, two-thirds the price of a small, more conventional Indonesian home. The combination of local and existing materials from the site couldn’t have pleased Djuhara more. “Ad-hocism is my religion,” he crows.

So after hard work the street-facing facade of the house was done. The metal grilled fence and wall at the front of the house functions as the front door, swinging to the side and opening up the entire front of the house like an amphitheater. Floor-to-ceiling window walls let in plenty of natural light and give the family a direct interface with the external world.

Djuhara believes his gospel of radical design, which is at once cheap, energy efficient, and surprisingly comfortable, will catch on. Wisnu agrees, though he jokes that it might take “a certain adjustment period.” Jakarta is a city in need of new ideas, and a younger generation must reimagine what it is to build if it is to survive and prosper. Wisnu and Sundari’s family, happily ensconced in its slice of Bekasi modernism, just might point the way to Jakarta’s future.

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