Gunawan Tjahjono was born in Medan, 1945. He graduated from University of Indonesia in 1975, then studied for his master degree in UCLA which he finished in 1983 with a comprehensive final assignment titled “City as Museum”. Afterwards, he participated in designing the administration centre of University of Indonesia before he obtained his PhD from University of California, Berkeley in 1989. He then worked at Duta Cermat Mandiri (DCM) Indonesia and ENCONA. Now he is now a professor in the architecture department of University of Indonesia.
We were grateful to share our roof with Professor Gunawan Tjahjono of University of Indonesia in Bittersweet Memories session.
He talked about his final projects, then shared about his design process and journey in architecture.
Prof Gunawan Tjahjono finished in University of Indonesia in 1975 and UCLA in 1981. He got scholarship which required him to teach later in Indonesia.
His Final Project, both for his bachelor and doctorate degree, is museum building type. He said that museum is an interesting space where the role of light is essential. Play of natural light and its challenging manipulation needs to be in accord with attendance’s need. Not only that, museum itself is not a mere repository of art, but also a part of a city, which contributes in shaping city’s story. He was mostly inspired by Kimbell Art Museum for having such narration that embellished his mind until now. That’s architecture for him, the product of spatial manipulation towards certain atmosphere which evokes individual’s emotion.
Even after declaring this baroque-related inclination, Prof Gunawan Tjahjono emphasized the importance of moral standing in becoming an architect. He spoke with bold stroke that it’s important to be a decent human being before choosing carrier as an architect. He believed that architecture is a way to give human more meaning, that art as well as function is same necessity in everyday live. That said, an architect is to keep high regard for balance between human and nature.
This moral standing, -he told us, would be manifested itself in design process. The will to sustain, always giving place for nature to grow, not using certain element that endangering environment, and always consider its inhabitant. Prof. Gunawan Tjahjono only had few client, which he choose carefully whom offered him most freedom in design process.
On architectural pedagogy, influenced by his mentor and experience in UCLA. he believe that student should not only gaining skill but also a critical mind. Main purpose of education is to led a person to understands himself and his own thinking, beside having basic skill to survive. He always encourages his student to ask questions, not permission nor acceptance. Faculty is there to facilitates and helping, not giving order.
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