Why create this workbook?
Remember a year ago when everything was in disarray? The pandemic completely shifted the frameworks of society, and our lives became heavily involved within the digital space. The online environment meant that many people could work or attend school from any space that has internet. This pattern was evident for a lot of people but was especially apparent for many international students. Many international students had to go back to their home countries abruptly and attended school with little to massive time differences. For myself, the disruption in my school routine became the foundation of my undergraduate thesis.
I went back to Jakarta, Indonesia, in March 2020. I spent most of my hours indoors due to the pandemic and only left the house when required. But those small and short trips within the city left a more significant impression on me. We spend so much of our time indoors during the pandemic, and the outdoors seemed like a fresh breath of air. The limited indoor space made it much easier for me to take in the environment with more detail and thought. I remember looking out of the window during a car ride and found myself spotting an electrical distribution transformer on the edge of the street. I knew many distribution transformers and how their design looked around my neighborhood, but I never noticed this particular design and location. In the past, the frequent trips within the city made the landscape feel insignificant, making it fade into the background. And so, that's how my investigation of Jakarta's landscape began and shaped my thesis project that focuses on infrastructure.
Why infrastructure? Being forced to stay indoors made me realize how unique Jakarta's landscape is. One of the many aspects that make up a city's identity and uniqueness (and its problems) is its infrastructure. It is the foundation of a city and keeps it operating, but why is this topic not understood well within the community? They are visible and noticeable but hidden at the same time. For myself, I have heard the term so many times, especially in the news or in economic terms, but I never quite understood the essence of it. To understand the topic more and encourage people to learn about it, I set my thesis topic on it.
So what is infrastructure? According to Oxford Languages, Infrastructure is "the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities (e.g. buildings, roads, power supplies) needed for the operation of a society or enterprise." So an infrastructure includes educational programs, emergency services, transportation systems, and even waste management. It consists of both services and physical structures. Still, I decided to focus more on its physical aspect because it was the one that I related the most because of being physically situated in Jakarta. To narrow it down, I focused on five categories within infrastructure: transportation, communications, energy, and water and waste management. For my thesis, I wanted to highlight recurring problems within the categories and highlight the hidden aspects. Some of these problems include floods, traffic, and economic disparity. The floods are caused by mistreatment of built waterways, the waste vehicles congest the traffic, and the highway shows the financial difference in structures. On the other hand, the hidden aspects include the longness of the main highway, the significant role of the distribution transformers, and the colors of Jakarta's signages.
An effective method to bring attention and a new pov of navigating and living in the city is to look at a topic from a different angle. That's where a workbook comes into mind. A workbook, usually for kids, is set up in a similar matter as infrastructure. They have a set framework for the questions that are answered within. Infrastructure is also created within a structured rule that people can use based on their needs. Not only that, the workbook form increases accessibility and approachability to a difficult and invisible topic. And so I created the Infrastructure Workbook Jakarta Edition.
My project investigates the topic through twelve workbook activities that focus on transportation, communications, energy, and waste and water management. These categories make Jakarta up and are vital in keeping the city functioning, but frequent problems get in the way. This workbook will allow people to relearn their environment and become less ignorant. I had asked my friends from Jakarta to fill several workbook pages. It was interesting that most of my friends experience a similar ignorance that I experienced regarding infrastructure. One of my friends filled a coloring page of Jakarta's signages. It was to my surprise that she didn't recognize which colors belong to which. I previously thought that the road signs in Jakarta were pretty noticeable, but it was clear that people's knowledge of infrastructure was all over the place. So I was pleased that they could learn new things about Jakarta. Not only that, but the workbook will also show new ways of navigating and living in Jakarta, becoming more appreciative of the infrastructure, and noticing the small details. Through better insight into a city's infrastructure, people would better understand their living conditions and system — becoming more critical of what has existed. I hope this project shows the workbook's potential and creates the foundation for developing other city editions.
Infrastructure Workbook Jakarta Edition is a workbook for people from Jakarta that investigates infrastructure through twelve workbook activities that allow people to relearn their environment. The workbook delves into five categories of infrastructure which include: Transportation, Communications, Energy, Waste and Water Management.
01. Why Infrastructure Workbook?
02. Dive into the workbook
03. See people’s answers
04. Download the workbook
05. Workbook Instructions
06. Submit a filled page/book!
© Felitasari (Tata) Rekso