This book is a journey by the life and work of the architect Friedrich Silaban (1912-1984), one of the most meaningful modern architects from Indonesia. Even so, it is not a simplistic biography neither an architectural work catalogue. Setiadi Sopandi takes us, like in a movie, through a complex narrative on architectural ideas which has taken place in Indonesia from the era colonial, early independence, until the New Order. Through the times, beautifully described in its several cultural manifestations – from cuisine to fashion, music to cinema -, this books reveals how Silaban architecture was faced as a multi-disciplined field intertwined with the imaginative act of defining the being, or existence, of a society.
With a holistic view from the world, through wise and humoured eyes, the history of Silaban architecture merges with the history of his own life along with the history of the times where the man and his work were growing and the history of the places Silaban experienced in his long journeys, mostly on Asia and US. Through integrated analysis that correlates politics, economics, social, climate, constructive and other type of choices with Indonesian challenges, difficulties and opportunities, this book allows to understand how the differences between politics and culture are reduced when architecture is a global answer to current human needs, presenting in detail the beauty of the built works and the thought behind them.
Placed on the architectural and cultural discourse throughout 20th century, this research is a fundamental piece for the consolidation of the global history of the Modern Movement in the world, and for the understanding that modern world is not exclusive to the west.
This book is one of the top efforts documentation and research conducted by Setiadi Sopandi to perpetuate the legacy of the journey of architects and architecture in Indonesia. This effort is not only a valuable vehicle of documenting contemporary heritage, allowing it to be known, understood, appreciated and remembered, but also a call for the need of its respectful preservation. As Docomomo International Chair and worldwide Modern Movement researcher, I fully support this publication, believing that it constitutes an important editorial initiative for the necessary construction of a global, diversified and operative history, capable of recovering a unique patrimony and of waging on the value of its future.
Chair of Docomomo International
Full Professor, Técnico – University of Lisbon; University of Tokyo