Architecture students Fauzan Alfi A, Stephanie Cheung, Laras Winarso and Matthew Hunter with a prototype of their street vendor shelter to be used in Indonesian cities. Photo: Michael Neilson
Known as "kaki lima", or five legs, food vendors are a vital part of the Indonesian economy, feeding the city's workers, and even becoming a point of pride.
Jakarta street vendors - known as kaki lima - are a vital part of the Indonesian economy. Photo: Michael Neilson
They have even been admired for their resilience, following the global financial crisis, and their calmness in the face of last month's Jakarta terror attacks.
So when Dr Rizal Muslimin, an architecture lecturer at the University of Sydney, needed a practical project for his students he was drawn to the street vendors in Bandung, Indonesia's third largest city, where he first attended university.
The students were tasked with developing a sustainable street vendor shelter for Jakarta vendors. Photo: Supplied
Dr Muslimin and his counterpart at the Bandung Institute of Technology, Professor Aswin Andrabrasha, came up with an exchange program where architecture students would spend a week in Sydney designing shelters for street vendors, and another week in Bandung building and testing them.
They wanted to challenge their students to use design to address a social issue and also give them rare real-life experience.
A group of six students from Sydney and eight from Bandung took part in the exchange during the last two weeks of January.
A prototype of the new street vendor shelter in situ. Photo: Michael Neilson
They split into groups of three, each with a different brief to design shelter structures that could replace the existing ramshackle designs. The designs were to be not only attractive, but functional and user-friendly. They also had to take into account cost and local materials, with most using bamboo.
Australian student Matthew Naivasha said they created structures that could adapt from serving food in the day to clothes stalls in the evening.
The designs could fold up or incorporate street lamps or poles.
"The vendors felt touched. The government doesn't like them, doesn't think they look nice, and so for the Aussies to come and to try and make it a better place, they really appreciated that," says Arum Larasati, a student at the Bandung Institute of Technology.
The project aligns neatly with Bandung's "Creative City" concept, promoted by Mayor Ridwan Kamil, which harnesses Bandung's creative community to make the city more vibrant and liveable.
Dr Muslimin believes the shelters could also be used in markets in Australia.
"The needs of stallholders in Australia's own community markets are not dissimilar to the Indonesians. They both need something that is easy to transport and set up and pull down in a short space of time," says Dr Muslimin.
Published in and at http://www.smh.com.au/world/rethinking-the-kaki-lima-australian-and-indonesia