Post D: Masjid in Context

By Catherine Nguyen

A local mosque spotted on my travels to Banjarmasin (Nguyen, C. 2018)

Architecture is a reflection of our values, ideologies and lifestyles- and although fixed concretely at a certain space and time, its foundation allows for it to continue to live on and tell stories for the years, decades and possibly centuries to come. It seeks to challenge the ways of working, thinking and relating (Turpin, E. (ed.) 2013) in accordance with context; and it is also through this context that informs the structure and constitutes for the style and materials used in the first place.

Travelling to Indonesia and learning more about this beautiful country allowed me to realise how diverse their culture was, and how this was mirrored in their different styles of architecture. As an archipelago consisting of thousands of islands with seas and straits creating barriers between cities (Sadali, A. 1979), it was to no surprise that this diversity would have made its way to even the smallest of cities such as Banjarmasin. There was a unique juxtaposition of contemporary, high rise buildings against the traditional stilt houses by the waters- and even the places they prayed at, the masjid (or mosques), were designed with variation.

One may have easily recognized the difference in character between a mosque in Turkey and one in India, as they would have belonged to a specific architectural style influenced by their respective contexts (Sadali, A. 1979). But what about a mosque in Banjarmasin in comparison to a mosque in say, Jakarta? Or Bandung? Although they share the same country that is Indonesia, each city are their own individual entities; differing in lifestyles, beliefs and traditions. Hence, the architectural style of their homes, buildings and mosques would be decisions reflective of their own local tastes.

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Great Mosque of Banten on the left (Kharisman, I. 2012) and the Javanese Joglo on the right (MacMhathain, D.)

As the most populous Muslim nation in the world with the Islamic religion reportedly embraced by nearly 90% of their population (Indonesia Investments, n.d.), the abundance of mosques within Indonesia are significant in their portrayal of their different communities; their designs a depiction of their contexts. Whilst the Great Mosque of Banten prides itself on their ‘stacked roofs’, a design deriving from the traditional Javanese dwellings (Sadali, A. 1979), other mosques in Banjarmasin and other areas are inspired by sources beyond Indonesia. The ‘onion’ dome, arched windows and doorways found in the Masjid Jami Banjarmasin are architectural decisions influenced by Byzantine models (Pringle, R. 2010) and representative of the desire of Indonesian rules to emulate their observations during their overseas travels (Sadali, A. 1979).

Aside from traditional models, contemporary styles have also surfaced in Indonesia, where architects have sought to challenge the pre-existing beliefs of the definitive characteristics of a mosque. The ‘Salman’ mosque complex on the campus of the Institute of Technology in Bandung presents an evident case of how ‘modern thoughts and sentiments are being amalgated with Islamic concepts’ (Sadali, A. 1979). Despite lacking the stacked roofs and arched windows, the building still holds the same ideologies as any other mosque; serving as a place to unite, pray and worship.

The inclusivity of the Islamic religion has also realised the need to represent minority communities in Indonesia through architectural design as well. Islamic Chinese Indonesians, whom have previously been viewed as a ‘redundant legacy of history’ (Jacobsen, M. 2005), have recently begun to enjoy their ‘newfound freedom to express their culture’ within the last decade, the Reformasi era (Dickson, A. 2008). The Muhammad Cheng Hoo mosque in Surabaya was built in appreciation for this minority, and hence is the first mosque in Indonesia with Chinese inspired architecture. With an appearance seemingly reminiscent of a Chinese pagoda, there are features which correlate to Arabic and Javanese influences (Wonderful Indonesia, 2017)- highlighting the beauty and compatibility of Islamic and Chinese culture.

Throughout the Islamic world there is unity amongst diversity (Sadali, A. 1979); despite the diversity in ethnic backgrounds or distinctions in the architectural design depending on various contexts, their beliefs are practiced in unison. Architecture, although an old design profession, continues to reflect these similarities and differences physically- and though their styles may become outdated, the history, culture, values and beliefs captured in these works of art stay timeless.



Dickson, A. 2008, ‘A Chinese Indonesian Mosque’s Outreach in the Reformasi Era’, 17th Biennial Conference of the Asian Studies Association of Australia, Melbourne, pp. 1-11.

Indonesia Investments n.d., Religion in Indonesia, viewed 1 February 2018, <;.

Jacobsen, M. 2005, ‘Islam and Processes of Minorisation among Ethnic Chinese in Indonesia: Oscillating between Faith and Political Economic Expediency’, Asian Ethnicity, vol. 6, no. 2, pp 71-87.

Kharisman, I. 2012, Masjid Banten, Flickr, viewed 1 February 2018, <;.

MacMhathain, D. 2016, Javanese Joglos: Aristocratic Houses, Flickr, viewed 1 February 2018, <;.

Pringle, R. 2010, Understanding Islam in Indonesia: Politics and Diversity, Editions Didier Millet PTE LTD, Singapore, pp. 190.

Sadali, A. 1979, ‘In Search of an Islam-Initiated Architectural Identity in Indonesia’, Architecture as Symbol and Self Identity, pp. 87-90.

Turpin, E. (ed.) 2013, Architecture in the Anthropocene, vol. 1, Open Humanities Press.

Wonderful Indonesia, 2017, 10 Most Unique Mosques in Indonesia, viewed 1 February 2018, <;.


Post C: The Guardians of Indonesia

By Catherine Nguyen


Myself and Aina (left)

Growing up in a city where smoking was prevalent amongst the diverse population, it was a certainly a strange sight upon arriving in Banjarmasin. Although it seemingly appeared that the ‘rokok’ culture was proudly celebrated with tobacco kiosks positioned every 5 metres apart, the unsettling amounts of cigarette pack disposals in the Martapura river as well as the large groups who bonded with cigarettes in their mouths, something in particular stood out. There were absolutely no signs of women smoking at all- if anything, the closest they were was through the passive breathing of their husbands’ cigarette. Curious about whether this was due to religious, cultural or social reasons, I decided to delve further through a conversation with Aina.

Aina Novie (Aina) is an 18 year old student currently undertaking English Conversation at the Lambung Mangkurat University in Banjarmasin with big dreams to travel the world. Confirming the obvious as soon as she shook her head upon asking her if she was a smoker herself, she stated that she was well aware of the dangers, risks and inconveniences associated with smoking. However it was a different story amongst her peers- most of them were ‘rokok’ users and all of them happened to be male. This was no surprise, as data revealed that 48% of Indonesian smokers admitted to smoking since their late teens, whilst 30% affirmed that their habits began when they were still minors. (Jakpat, 2016).


Graph illustrating the ages people began smoking in Indonesia (Fandia, M. 2016)

Aside from being one of the world’s most populated countries with over 260 million residents at a near 1:1 ratio of men to women (CountryMeters, 2018), Indonesia is also recognised as one of the countries with the highest record of male smokers. With such a balanced population, it was unexpected to notice such a stark contrast in the rates between male (69%) and female smokers (3%) (Ghouri, N., Atcha, M. & Sheikh, A. 2006). However, it was discovered that Muslim women were restricted access in certain public places- including social spaces where cigarettes would be traditionally smoked. Furthermore, the act was deemed socially unacceptable for women; often construed as a vice which undermined the social standing of the family (Ghouri, N., Atcha, M. & Sheikh, A. 2006). Whilst males were often praised and sanctioned with the ‘gift of masculinity’ through using rokok, females would become targetted for ostracism.

Suprisingly, Aina also uncovered that there lay more than just religious and social purposes. When asked about her decision not to smoke, she replied that “if girls use rokok, it is not good for the baby”. Her mother had told her so, and apparently, it was commonly believed throughout Indonesia. According to Barraclough in ‘Women and tobacco in Indonesia’, women are respected as the guardians of their families’ health. As well as taking care of everyone’s health, theirs is viewed equally as significant due to their ability to give birth. In a country where the maternal mortality rate was once as low as 358 per 100,000 pregnant women (Barraclough, S. 1999), the notion of motherhood is worshipped as an aspect of success for the women of Indonesia. If a one was unable or unwilling to reproduce, she would be perceived as ‘inadequate’ and a ‘failure’ for not being able to fulfil her socially designated role (Bennett, L.R. 2012).

Talking with Aina answered many of my curiosities as well as opened up new topics of interest beyond the tobacco industry. There is still a long way before the matter of tobacco, as well as issues in relation to the perception of Indonesian women and their alleged ‘duties’ can be tackled and resolved due to their interwoven nature in the local communities and lifestyles. However, with an enhanced understanding of their motives, values and perspectives, we can realise solutions which enable potential for a more open-minded community, where the responsibility of everyone’s well-being wouldn’t be limited to the women of the household themselves; where everyone would be their own guardian.


Barraclough, S. 1999, ‘Women and Tobacco in Indonesia’, Tobacco Control, vol. 8, pp. 327-332.

Bennett, L.R. 2012, ‘Infertility, Womanhood and Motherhood in Contemporary Indonesia: Understanding Gender Discrimination in the Realm of Biomedical Fertility Care’, Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific, vol. 28.

CountryMeters 2018, Indonesia Population, viewed 16 January 2018,<;.

Fandia, M. 2016, Cigarette Lovers: Indonesian Smokers Survey 2016, Jajak Pendapat App, viewed 16 January 2018, <;.

Ghouri, N., Atcha, M. & Sheikh, A. 2006, ‘Influence of Islam on smoking among Muslims’, British Medical Journal, vol. 332, no. 7536, pp. 291.



Post B: The truth About Tobacco

By Catherine Nguyen


Truth campaign (YouWorkForThem 2015)

Oftentimes, the anti-smoking advertisements we encounter on television are the ones who have been ‘thoughtfully’ decisive on our behalf, pushing heavily for us to ‘just say no’ because smoking is bad. Smoking is bad. It’s a well-known fact. But in order to work towards solving an issue, we need to directly address it from its roots, rather than working from its ends. We need to know about its origins, about the industry behind this dirty, deadly trade.

‘truth’ is a tobacco countermarking campaign which has claimed success in preventing and educating youths about the ‘big tobacco’s lies and manipulation’ (Truth, n.d.). Their target audience is primarily focused upon the vulnerable age group of 12-17 year olds, in which they promote their content through ‘edgy TV advertisements, radio advertisements, social media as well as hosting annual tours (Allen et al. 2010). Initially created in 1998 to campaign in Florida, its proven success had led to its development on a nationwide scale in 2000, by the American Legacy Foundation (Niederdeppe et al. 2004).

Whilst ‘truth’ seeks to reveal the honest facts surrounding the addictiveness, number of deaths and diseases attributed to smoking, its harmful ingredients and the industry’s deceptive marketing strategies utilising ‘fast paced’ and ‘hard edged’ communicative techniques, (Allen et al. 2010) they refuse to enforce and preach their opinions decisions on the viewer. Instead, it is up to the youths to understand, learn and ultimately make their own right choice. The campaign also features youth spokespeople who relate to the stereotypical image of a smoker: rebellious, independent and risk taking, in attempt to change the norms about not smoking.


One of truth's short films, warning about the dangers of smoking (truthorange 2017)

With their intended market to be targeted towards youths, their method of conveying the ‘truths’ in a more digestible, quirky and humorous manner can be understood as an effective method to capture attention whilst simultaneously communicating the knowledge that is carefully designed to influence beliefs and attitudes about tobacco.

Their ability to create a variety of ‘turbo charging’ content to appeal to different ‘sub-groups’ under the youth umbrella is certainly a powerful and successful game plan, with studies and surveys conducted along the path of truth’s journey revealing the increase in youth awareness and decline in youth addiction. A 2002 study revealed that within the first 9 months of the introduction of the campaign, 75% of the 12-17 age group nationwide were able to accurately describe at least 1 truth ad. Although its regular exposure had been proven to reach their intended group, by 2007, it was revealed that 70% of the ‘truth’ media purchase was moved from networked television to the cable alternate (Allen et al. 2010). This was primarily attributed to the reduction of funds from the MSA, which were their main source of finance- and although this transition may have been more cost effective method, it also meant that youths based in rural areas were unable to access this content. However, to combat this issue they decided to reach out further, by utilising the ever-growing social media as a platform to showcase their content. Their short videos which range from 30 to 60 seconds on average are posted regularly on their YouTube channel and range from dynamic, flat graphic styles to a more cartoon-based, or even cinematic approach.

Since 2000, the number of teens smoking have decreased drastically over the years, from 23% to 6% respectively (Truth, n.d.). Although these statistics cannot be entirely accredited to ‘truth’, their role in the anti-tobacco campaigning sector is undoubtedly applaudable. Their success is said to be as a result of 3 key characteristics: their peer to peer message strategy, the use of branding well as their consistent anti-tobacco theme (Allen et al. 2010). But it doesn’t stop here- they are yet to do what ‘no generation has ever done before- end smoking’ (Truth,n.d.).



Allen, J.A., Vallone, D., Vargyas, E. & Healton, C.G. 2010, ‘The truth Campaign: Using Countermarketing to Reduce Youth Smoking’, in B.J. Healey & R.S. Zimmerman (eds), The New World of Health Promotion, Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Sudbury, Massachusetts, pp. 195-215.

Niederdeppe, J., Farrelly, M.C. & Haviland, M.L. 2004, ‘Confirming truth: More Evidence of a Successful Tobacco Countermarketing Campaign in Florida’, American Journal of  Public Health, vol. 94, no. 2, pp. 255-257.

Partnership For A Tobacco-Free Maine 2017, Marketing Against Tobacco, Maine Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, viewed 10 December 2017, <;.

Sly, D.F., Heald, G.R. & Ray, S. 2001, ‘The Florida “truth” anti-tobacco media evaluation: design, first year results, and implications for planning future state media evaluations’, Tobacco Control, vol. 10, pp.9-15.

The Ministry of Ins!ghts n.d., TRUTH- anti-tobacco campaign, viewed 11 December 2017, <;.

Truth n.d., truth- #FinishIt, viewed 10 December 2017, <;.

Truthorange 2017, Meet the Tastebuds | Cola | truth, video recording, YouTube, viewed 10 December 2017, <;.

YouWorkForThem 2015, The Anti-Smoking Font – truth, viewed 11 December 2017, <;.

Post D: The Lanting House

By Catherine Nguyen


Lanting houses in Banjarmasin (Bromo, P. 2013)

I’ve travelled to quite a few places throughout my lifetime thus far, however none have come close to the sound of Indonesia. Spread across thousands of islands consist of hundreds of cities, and despite that these neighbourhoods share the same umbrella name, they all have different needs, lifestyles and identities. When combined, they form the culturally rich, beautiful and lively country that is Indonesia.

Whilst the phenomenon of globalisation has proved us certain advantages especially in terms of travel, for places like Indonesia where their identities are defined heavily upon culture, it becomes a battle between modernisation and protecting celebrated traditions.

Banjarmasin, located south of Kalimantan, Indonesia, is a self proclaimed ‘City Of A Thousand Rivers’. The name is well earnt, considering the city has been developed on a delta with a total of 107 rivers, creeks and canals (Kusliansjah et al. 2016). Boasting also a ‘unique architectural heritage, natural splendour and colourful floating markets’ (Chandra, S. 2016), I was intrigued to learn about its historical development as well as the lifestyle of this Banjarnese community that I was envious of.

mapping indonesia

Mapping Indonesia (Nguyen, C. 2017)

To my (un)surprise however, countless articles surfaced to address this physical, economic and environmental transformation the city was currently undergoing, due to the increasingly urbanised and globalised culture (Lamarca, M. 2012). From a city that proudly flaunted their homes which were structurally designed  to be harmonious with nature, they are now facing an identity crisis as they move from the waters onto land.


Presence of lanting houses in present Banjarmasin (Nguyen, C. 2017)

Of the 11 types of homes traditionally known in Banjarmasin, the Lanting house is the only one to be constructed on water. Once an ‘expression of Banjarnese culture’ (Dahliani et al. 2015) and definitive of the city’s way of life, it now ceases to exist- instead replaced with the growing preference for urban architecture as influenced by global trends. Historially built along the riverbanks of Matarpura, Kuin and Alalak they were used as both floating homes and stores- a fundamental aspect to the Banjarnese lifestyle (Kusliansjah et al. 2016). Progressively, with road developments and a growth in land-based settlements, its presence begun to cease. As of 2015, it was recorded that there were only 10 lanting houses left (Dahliani et al. 2015).

Contrastingly to land-based cities where the identities of their urban architecture and local culture are much more definitive and stabilised, tidal waterfront cities such as Banjarmasin are continuously facing uncertainty regarding their infrastructure, and constantly fear the loss of their identity and image as the tidal city.

The traditional lifestyle has not been entirely disregarded yet; there are still river markets floating around Banjarmasin and kelotoks* available for transportation- just targeted towards the tourists more than the locals. But how long will it be until everything becomes complete history?

(Basymeleh, I. 2008, Traditional floating market at the river in Banjarmasin)


*Kelotok = Indonesian wooden boats


Basymeleh, I. 2008, Traditional floating market at the river in Banjarmasin, photograph, Flickr, viewed December 2 2017, <>.

Bromo, P. 2013, ‘NEGERI DI ATAS AIR’, Have A Cup Of Tea!, weblog, viewed December 2 2017, <>.

Chandra, S. 2016, Banjarmasin, Garuda Indonesia Colours, viewed December 1 2017, <>.

Dahliani, Muhammad F. & Hayati A. 2015, ‘Changes of architecture expressions on Lanting House based on activity system on the river’, History Research, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 1-8.

Kusliansjah, K., Siahaan, U. & Tobing, R. 2016, ‘Reinterpretation of Architectural Identity in a Tidal Waterfront City’, International Journal of Architecture and Urban Development, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 33-40.

Lamarca, M. 2012, Participatory Waterfront Design in Banjarmasin, polis, viewed December 1 2017, <>.

Michiani, M. & Asano, J. 2017, ‘A Study on the Historical Transformation of Physical Feature and Room Layout of Banjarese House in the Context of Preservation’, Urban and Regional Planning Review, vol. 4, pp. 71-89.