On 17th August 2007, landscape architecture students from Department of Landscape Architecture, Faculty of Built Environment lead by Dr. Ismail Said went to Surakarta and Yogyakarta for a five days joint workshop with the students of Muhammadiyah University of Surakarta on urban landscape design. This joint-workshop was a collaborative effort by the Department of Achitecture, Muhammadiyah University of Surakarta (UMS) and Department of Landscape Architecture, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM).

The purposes of the visit were:

  • To experience and understand the spatial pattern and building typology of Javanese city.
  • To conduct a one day urban design workshop during the visit with the architecture students of Muhammadiyah University of Surakarta.
  • To know the social attributes of people in Surakarta and Yogyakarta in relation to the urban landscape features.
  • To create generic skills including communication, critical thinking, and adaptability of landscape planning skills and ethic of professionalism.

There 30 students are from (UTM) and 20 students from (UMS) participated in design workshop. The workshop was guided by five lecturers from (UMS) and one from (UTM).

On 17th August, the students of (UTM) were welcome by a group of (UMS) students. We arrived at Adi Sumarmo, Surakarta Airport at 10.00 a.m. Then the participants were taken by UMS buses with 20 students and one lecturer (UMS). The first trip was at Prambanan Temple Yogyakarta. It took two hours to reach the destination. This was where we learn about the cultural landscape. The students were given a brief before they took off to the temple. A band of Gamelan veteran artist performed their beautiful music as to welcome the students before they started visit the temple. The temple is the temple for the Hindus. It was a marvelous architecture that shows the glory of the past Hinduism country. All the students were amazed by the great architecture, they all wondering how the gigantic structures were done. After the temple visit, we proceed to Yogyakarta then checked into a hotel. We arrived at hotel in the evening. The groups get chance to rest before reach night.

At night after dinner at Bamboo Restaurant, the UMS students took us to the Malioboro Street in Yogyakarta. The Malioboro Street was a vibrant linear street that showing the lively city of Yogyakarta and it was the main commercial spine of downtown Yogyakarta. It formed a street approaching the Palace as the ceremonial street. The goods and souvenirs like unique keychain, bracelets, ‘baju batik’, and sandals and so on were cheap. The UMS students were hearty kind to help us to bargain the goods. The process of bargaining was very fun because the price can be reduce to more than half. The cultures of the street made the place lively and vibrant with the activities which create a ‘sense of place’ where the other place did not.

On 18th August, the academic trip continued the journey to Tamansari (Royal Garden) or the waterkasteelor by the Dutch. The site is built as the pleasure garden for the Sultan Hamengkubuwono in 1758. There were 3 bathing pool for himself, children and his putri. The Sultan watched them bath and summon one of them accompany him. All the students were allowed here to walking around the garden passageway and observed the remaining architecture of the garden. The remain wreckage of the place still make the students feel amazed. This TamanSari was protected by No.5 1992 Republic Indonesia Law as preservation of historical value of Indonesia.

Before heading to Kota Gede, we were brought at South Alun-alun which was on open space. It also called a ‘medan’ for Indonesian people. There was a myth that whoever walks between two ficus trees by folding the eyes, the person will have good luck. Only a student succeeded the task who was Siti Aminah. Kota Gede is the site of the remains of a palace Kraton in the late 1500s and early 1600s for the rulers of Mataram. Legend and myth surround much of the information available for the time the palace was intact, and only the Royal Graveyard (precursor to Imogiri) and a few small sections of wall of the palace remain. Here the students went at town trail through the city. After we trailed through the city, they stopped at a Javanese traditional house. Although that day was very hot, but the dedicated and courage of participant to finish their trail and went back to the hotel.

On 19th August, the participant visited Karangkulon village, in Imogiri. A talk on rehabilitation after the earthquake was presented by Ahmad Hanifa Irawan. The village was damage by earthquake in 27 May 2006. NGO and volunteers take cares of the villagers since the governments are lack of attention intention to this place. The participants were divided in 7 groups architecture of UMS and UTM students. The aim of this assignment was to create a conceptual idea of 7 sites. The last task was to present the work to Pak Irawan. After the presentation, all students were invited to join doing a mural painting for the school as memory from UMS and UTM students there.

On 20 August, the landscape urban design programs begun by site observation and analysis on seven sites in Laweyan Village. This is the second design workshop for UMS and UTM students with the objective, students can create their combination creative ideas how to improve the condition of site for public use. Hence the seven groups each comprised of 4 UTM and 3 UMS students, too the task to plan and design the public spaces. The design exercise was held at a verandah of a traditional house located next to Pak Alpha residence. All groups were working diligently from 10.00 am to 5.15 pm to produce their design scheme. The condition at the workshop’s verandah was hot and humid. All groups participated with dedication to complete their tasks which were presented at Faculty of Technique UMS on the following day.

And in the afternoon, we visited Kraton, a place. This Kraton of Surakarta was built in 1670s. It is better known as Kasunanan Palace. Now it was turned into a museum that collects the treasure Javanese Royal Culture Museum. All the exhibits were very old and some of them even are worship. Here the participants have the chance to see the Javanese royal secret dance. Some of students said, they recognized the dance as they ever seen in ‘Puteri Gunung Ledang’ movie. The mystical atmosphere of the Kraton makes the students wondering and want to know more about the Kraton. In the last night of the academic trip, Pak Alpha’s house held a informal dinner for all of the participant. The dinner was accompanied by the music of gamelan. Dr. Ismail Said and the head of Architecture Department of Muhammadiyah University of Surakarta, (UMS) Wisnu Setiawan gave their last speech for the academic trip. After the dinner, the students were lead by the students of Muhammadiyah University of Surakarta, (UMS) to the nearby angkringan (stalls) that was authentic to Indonesia for the last gathering.

On the 22 August, the UTM groups take off by 8.55 am and reach Malaysia in 12.35 pm. The trip was very good because it gave the students exposure to Javanese culture that we should sensitive to. The aim of the trip was greatly achieve by the hardwork of two sides. We hope that the two universities will do the academic manually.

One of the students, Tengku Nor Asiah Binti Tengku Abdul Rahim said that she was very excited and happy with the trip. She learned a lot of things especially the unique culture of the Javanese and she missed the delicious food such as Aram-Aram. She also said that she was very lucky to have new friends from the trip. Siti Aminah binti Umar said that the trip gave her a new kind of experience and made her to be a better person and appreciate everything that she had. She felt that she was very blessed to join the trip.

Last but not least, the 5 days trip of landscape architecture students from Department of Landscape Architecture, Faculty of Built Environment lead by Dr. Ismail Said went to Surakarta and Yogyakarta gives a lots of advantage and benefit for each two universities in creating a strong relationships after the visit besides gained many information such as life style experiences , a different social-culture understanding, improving the generic skills through the design workshop is the most valuable experience for all students.

The support of many of great stylish, creativity, generosity and enthusiasm must be mentioned up front too, Dr.Ismail Said and Pak Wisnu, Mr. Ahmad Hanifa Irawan , Pak Alpha , Pak Agong and also others who get involved in this collaboration who helped polish our skills and enriched our information with wisdom words and gorgeous creativity, besides very generous in the sharing of their knowledge, languages , experiences, jokes and body languages have been incredibly inspired us. We can never thank them enough.