March 1, 2024

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UTM Students Shine at ISCA 2023: Exploring Medan’s Heritage and Architecture

Medan, Indonesia, August 10, 2023 – Two third-year students of Landscape Architecture at the Faculty of Built Environment and Surveying, University Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Afifah Aliyaah Afandi and Umamageswary Murugiah, embarked on a transformative journey by attending the ten-day International Summer Course Architecture 2023 (ISCA 2023) hosted by Universitas Sumatera Utara (USU).

ISCA 2023, held from August 1st to 10th, 2023, in Medan, Indonesia, gathered a diverse cohort of 78 participants from different universities, representing various fields including architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, and urban planning. This unique summer course offered a hybrid learning experience, accommodating both hybrid and fully physical attendance options. Its overarching goal was to align with the vision of the USU Bachelor of Architecture program, aiming to achieve excellence and international recognition within the local context. This vision is in harmony with the Faculty of Engineering and the broader mission of Universitas Sumatera Utara, reinforcing USU’s commitment to internationalization and expanding its network of guest universities, in alignment with the institution’s Strategic Plan.

The ISCA 2023 summer course featured a multifaceted program, encompassing guest lectures, group discussions, and immersive site surveys in key areas of Medan, including Kesawan, Pos Bloc Medan, and the city’s heritage precinct. A one-day “Digging4Data” training, conducted in collaboration with Pusat Dokumentasi Arsitektur (PDA), was integrated into the program, providing participants with practical research tools. The training was spearheaded by three eminent researchers: Pauline K.M. van Roosmalen and Huib Akihary, Dutch architectural historians and colonial architecture experts in Indonesia, and Nadia Purwestri, an expert with a rich background in architectural heritage conservation. This training illuminated new methods for conducting built environment research in Indonesia, focusing on the period between 1620 and 1950.

One of the highlights of the program was the opportunity for participants to explore the rich architectural heritage of Medan. Notable historical landmarks, such as the Tjong A Fie Mansion, a masterpiece reflecting a blend of Chinese, Malay, and Art Deco architectural styles, captivated their attention. This architectural gem, with its intricate design following feng shui principles and a central open-air courtyard symbolizing the “Well of Heaven,” left an indelible impression.

Participants also had the privilege of visiting the BKS PPS Building, also known as the Avros Building, a historical structure dating back to the Dutch colonial era. Designed by G.H Mulder and constructed between 1918 and 1919, this building showcased the rise of rationalism in the early twentieth century. Its simple yet elegant art nouveau design, open gallery-style balconies on each floor, and distinctive green dome adapted to the tropical climate were standout features. The Avros Building’s historical significance was further underscored by the presence of old clocks and bells, crafted by the renowned Bonaventura Eijsbouts factory in Asten, Netherlands, which remain in operation to this day, maintaining the building’s authentic colonial-era atmosphere.

Throughout the summer course, participants diligently collected data and presented their analysis findings. Activities such as group discussions, crit sessions, progress presentations, and final presentations enriched the learning experience. The summer course left participants with a heightened awareness of heritage preservation, particularly in Medan. The “Digging 4 Data” course equipped them with valuable skills to gather data from internet sources and conceptualize historical areas using the Historic Urban Landscape Approach.

In recognition of their outstanding performance during ISCA 2023, Afifah Aliyaah and Umamageswary received accolades as the course’s best participant and group, highlighting their exceptional contributions. Their remarkable achievements serve as a milestone for future collaboration between UTM and USU. This partnership holds great potential for additional courses and programs related to heritage and cultural studies, fostering ongoing academic and research collaboration between the two institutions.

Figure 1 : The recipients of best group award


Figure 2 : The recipients of best participant award


Figure 3 : UTM participants with Dr. Lim Boon Seng of UiTM Perak, Dr. Ulrike Herbig of TU Wien, Dr. Hilma Tamiami Fachrudin and Ms. Keumala Shatila Harahap


Figure 4 : Group presentation by group 3


Figure 5 : Group presentation by group 1


Figure 6 : Group photo on first day of site survey at Kesawan, Medan


Figure 7 : BKS PPS Building, also known as Avros Building


Figure 8 : Capturing a moment at AVROS clock dome


Figure 9 : Narator of Tjong A Fie mansion explained Tjong A Fie family photo


Figure 10 : Participants visited Brastagi upon finishing the scheduled course


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