photos credit Ganny Gozaly and dpavilion architects
I do often wonder about container architecture; whether it is done because it is cheap, or whether it is done as an attention grabber. One certainly knows where the Indonesian firm dpavilion architects stand; they call their building Contertainer, and tell the Contemporist it is "an amalgam of two words: container and entertainer. From its outer look, at a glance one can see an architectural form made of several brightly painted containers--red, yellow, blue and light green--in attractive position and composition, thus forming a contertainer."
They certainly have fun with them in their manifesto, which starts with the statement that "Architecture is Dead."
In the architect's blog, they go on at some length to define what they mean by entertainment in this context. It is worth reading:
Principal architects of dpavilion, Edwin Nafarin, once muttered: "I want to create architecture that would please many". Contertainer is one of his works that manifests his architectural creed.....
Contertainer Is situated in Batu, East Jawa, Indonesia. Batu is a relatively new town which still retains a strong agricultural nuance. Perhaps it is a town with a village-like atmosphere. Contertainer is a public facility, consisting of a polyclinic and a library, where ordinary people can come and use the facilities for free. The appearance of the contertainer in town can be perceived through various angles, for the appearance of an architectural work would be followed by many effects which it produces.
Along with the development of Indonesian towns and cities, aside from the rise of wealth, there is also a widening gap between the haves and the have nots. The have nots get more and more marginalized, their access to educational and health care services becomes more obscure, due to the increase of related fees. Such is an effect of global economy system, which mechanism is akin to the law of the jungle. This contertainer is a social attempt to entertain lower class people through free library access and health care service, so they would be able to have a better living quality amidst the fast-moving world.
The word entertain tends to be associated with the bliss of big cities: discotheques, pubs, movie theatres, theme parks, game zones, etc.; those "artificial" amusements. But here, at a country town called Batu, the term entertain is a bit "corrupted"; it is a real amusement for the lower class people, the ordinary people. They need proper health care service and access to quality readings in order to make them more confident as total, existing human beings.
On the other hand, in 1960s, Rendra, an Indonesian literary figure, reminded us that "in our country, the cities grow as the distributors of foreign products". This contertainer seems to embodies his criticism. Foreign products which inundated Indonesia are freighted in tens of thousand containers. Aside from entertaining lower class people, contertainer provides an allusion: "don't keep our cities the distributors of foreign products. Stop it. Let's use the containers as architectural pieces!".
Sometimes a shipping container is just a shipping container; sometimes it is a political statement too. More at dpavilion architects
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