Trading in style: students designing shelters for Indonesia’s street vendors

Indonesian street vendors are the new muses of Australian and Indonesian architecture students, who are creating sustainable shelters to help vendors keep trading in style.

Known as Pedagang Kaki Lima (‘five legs’), the travelling street vendors not only play a crucial role in Indonesia’s economy, they’ve also become an icon of resilience and bravery following the January 2016 Jakarta terrorist attacks—where photos of vendors and the meme “keep calm and BBQ satay” were shared widely on Twitter.

But when these roving stalls become more ‘permanent’ and encroach on public space— particularly in busier streets—they’re often moved on by authorities.

A new exchange program allows students to spend a week designing new shelters in Sydney before travelling to Bandung (Indonesia’s third largest city) to build and test the designs.

It was initiated by Dr Rizal Muslimin of the University of Sydney, in collaboration with Dr Aswin Indraprastha and Dr Andry Widyowijatnoko of the Institut Teknologi Bandung, and is supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Consul-General of the Republic of Indonesia.

In January 2016 eight students from Bandung and six from Sydney took part in the program, with the brief to create attractive but userfriendly shelters. The designs included portable, versatile shelters for serving food during the day and selling clothes at night— all taking into account local costs and readily-available materials, such as bamboo.

Their easily-portable designs could also be useful in Australian marketplaces, Rizal says.

“For example Sydney’s great creative events and markets are normally sheltered by standard, permanent structures. It would be great if these temporary designs could be equally attractive and integral to similar events in Australia.”

Credit for banner image: Rizal Muslimin.