BSD City: a response to Jakarta’s rapid urbanisation

An overview of BSD City. Image: Sinar Mas Land.

Carissa Widjojo works on strategic planning and corporate strategy at Sinar Mas Land, the Indonesian property developer behind the Bumi Serpong Damia garden city.

Indonesia is projected to have 32m people seeking housing in its urban areas by 2030. In parallel, the nation’s demographic profile is in transition, with a growing working-age population, but also a larger, aging group with specific needs and spending power. As the nation’s capital and one of the most rapidly growing cities in the world, Jakarta’s development will be the focal point of Indonesia’s rapid urbanisation.

Consequently, Indonesia urgently needs innovative, creative and sustainable property solutions. We need to prioritise the management of natural resources and preserve equitable standards both for established communities and the ones we create.

The self-contained satellite city of Bumi Serpong Damai (BSD), located in the south west of Jakarta, is the realization of over 20 years of meticulous planning. The city’s development is already in its second phase and will continue up until 2020, with a third and final phase set to be completed by 2035. This cityscape of 6,000 hectares is setting a new standard for modern living and is the hallmark of planned integrated townships in Indonesia.

BSD City’s development plan incorporates five toll roads, two of which are already in place, with feeder links to busways for both local and capital city access. In addition, a double track rail connection has been implemented for regional transport. A dedicated water treatment plant and reliable power infrastructure ensure that the utility requirements of its inhabitants are met. In addition, the city’s purpose-built nursery ensures that the landscape flourishes in tandem with rapid urban development. Furthermore, there are over 65 educational establishments and three hospitals, a variety of markets, entertainment centres, sports and leisure facilities.

BSD City focuses on four key areas: climate, including pedestrian comfort; water; waste; and energy management. Our mission is to preserve the natural beauty of the Cisadane river basin, ensure that BSD is an environmentally conscious city of the future for the benefit of all, embrace the needs of adjacent traditional village communities and new residents, and seek an alternative to city congestion and pollution.

Tackling the Biggest Challenges of our Time

Topics of energy, water, food security and climate change are increasingly important in today’s rapidly urbanising world. Some estimates suggest that Indonesia could cut as much as 15 per cent of its energy demands by 2030 through energy efficient buildings. BSD City itself contains over 400 hectares of green space and parks, contributing to effective water retention and air quality.

The provision of adequate water is often recognised as the next global challenge. While Jakarta relies primarily on the use of wells, BSD City has the potential to attain almost complete water independence, and net zero potable water waste, via the use of water management systems and extensive greening. Filtering and treating wastewater for reuse in sanitation, road cleaning and irrigation has been highly effective.

The design for an office park in BSD City. Image: Sinar Mas Land.

The built environment is a massive consumer of energy. Among other countries in Asia, Indonesia’s reliance on energy from low-cost coal contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. Over the lifespan of a building, considerable energy can be wasted through inefficient design. On top of this, there is the cost of fuel for the rising numbers of private vehicles on traffic-congested roads.

We address these challenges through the provision of reliable public transport, pedestrian sidewalks and bicycle lanes that offer cost-effective alternatives to the private vehicle. Energy efficient buildings, oriented to avoid east and west elevations with reflective roof surfaces, help minimise solar impact and reduce the urban heat island effect. Such measures also channel local wind effectively for pedestrian comfort during the day, along with shade from tree-lined streets.

Creativity in design can generate natural ventilation in multi-storey buildings. Meanwhile the use of renewable energy – in particular solar – and the use of energy efficient building materials ensure further savings.

Championing Sustainable Master Planning

In developing Asian cities of the future, there is an emerging trend to reduce the dominance of multi-lane streets and private vehicles. Asian cities are also aiming to avoid monolithic land use and limit suburban sprawl.

Central to the development of each phase of BSD City is the establishment of comprehensive supporting facilities for inhabitants. These facilities are selected with lifestyle synergy in mind. They include global university campuses, hospital districts, enterprise zones, residential villages, retail and entertainment recreational areas. All of these facilities are destinations in themselves, and are the antithesis of repetitive single use land developments of the past.

Our planning studies include concepts such as “walkability” – creating easy access on foot or bicycle for short journeys, to local nodes comprising schools, local retail and services, which are connected to other hubs via public transport.

Over the next decade we expect to build 150,000 new homes in BSD City alone, as the garden city grows to over one million residents. At this level of responsibility, it is essential that we remain open, accessible and transparent.

With the rapidly growing urban population in Greater Jakarta, our city needs to be ready to accommodate this. The decisions we make today regarding urban services, infrastructure and environment sustainability will determine our future. Now is the time for us to let go of our short-term tunnel vision, and instead to adopt a future-focused mindset, so that our children and businesses can grow and prosper seamlessly in a healthy living environment.

Carissa Widjojo works in strategic planning and corporate strategy at Sinar Mas Land, an Indonesian real estate consultancy which is a partner on the New Cities Summit, to be held in Jakarta on 9-11 June.

This post was originally published on the New Cities Foundation's blog.

 
 
 
 

“One of the greatest opportunities facing our region”: Andy Burnham on making work better for older people

Andy Burnham (then health secretary) and Gordon Brown (then prime minister) meeting an older voter in 2010. Image: Getty.

In the Greater Manchester Strategy, published by the Combined Authority in October, we set out our vision for Greater Manchester, including our ambitions for employment.

It’s not simply about getting more people into work – though this is important, given that our employment rate across the region is still below the national average. It’s also about improving the quality of work; creating better jobs with opportunities for people to progress and develop. That’s why we’re working towards a Good Employer Charter to encourage businesses across the region to step up.

But if we want to make a real difference for the people of Greater Manchester, we need to focus on those who currently struggle most to find a job, including people with disabilities, people with fewer qualifications – and older people.

One in three people aged between 50 and 64 in the Greater Manchester area are out of work. Adding in older workers on low pay, nearly half (46.3 per cent) of 50-64 year olds in Greater Manchester are either out of work or in low paid, low quality jobs. This is a bad situation at any age – in your 50s, with fewer chances to get back into work and less time to make up the shortfall in income and savings, it’s terrible.

It’s also bad for the region. People out of work are more likely to have or develop health problems, and need more care and support from our public services. We are also missing out on the skills and experience of thousands of residents. If Greater Manchester’s employment rate for 50-64 year olds matched the UK average, there would be 19,000 more people in work – earning, spending and paying into the local economy. GVA in the region could grow by £800m pa if we achieved this. 

If it’s bad now, it’s only going to get worse unless we act. This is the fastest growing age group among working age people in Greater Manchester. And with the rise in State Pension Age, we are no longer talking about 50-64 year olds, but 50-65, 66 and eventually 67. There are more older workers, and we are working for longer. Many of us are now expecting to work into our 70s to be able to earn enough for our later lives.


As the State Pension age rises, older people without decent work must struggle for longer without an income before they can draw their pension. But if we approach this right, we can improve people’s lives and benefit our local economy at the same time. It makes financial and social sense.

Older people bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the workplace, but we must make sure we provide a work environment that enables them to flourish. If we can help them get into good quality, suitable work, older people will be able to retain their financial independence and continue contributing to the region’s economy.

A report published earlier this week by the Centre for Ageing Better looks at exactly this issue. Part of our strategic partnership with the Centre for Ageing Better, the report is based on research conducted over six months with older residents in five communities with high levels of economic disadvantage across Greater Manchester.

In Brinnington, Stockport, the team met Adrian, in his late 50s. Adrian is a trained electrician, but since being made redundant ten years ago, has only managed to get a few short-term contracts. These short term, zero hours contracts, are “more trouble than they’re worth” and have left Adrian stressed and worse-off financially.

He has been sent on a large number of employment-related courses by JobCentre Plus, and has a CV with two pages listing training he has completed. However, these courses were of little interest to him and did not relate to his aim of finding stable work as an electrician. He told the team he only attended most of the courses so he “doesn’t get in trouble”.

Adrian recognises there are other types of work available, but much of it is warehouse based and as he is not in the best physical health he does not feel this work is suitable. He said he has “given up” on finding work – even though he still has 8 or 9 years to go until State Pension age.

Adrian’s story shows how badly the system is failing people like him – highly skilled, in a trade that’s in high demand, but being put through the motions of support in ways that make no sense for him.

A major finding of the report was the high number of people in this age group who had both caring responsibilities and their own health problems. With the need to manage their own health, and the high cost of paying for care, people found that they were not better off in low paid work. Several people shared stories of the complexity of coming off income support to take up temporary work and how this left them worse off financially – in some cases in severe debt.

The report concludes that changes are needed at every level to tackle chronic worklessness amongst this age group. This is not something that employment and skills services alone can fix, although Adrian’s story shows they can be much better at dealing with people as individuals, and this is something we want to do more on in Greater Manchester. But the health and benefits systems need to work in sync with employment support, and this is a national as well as a local issue.

Employers too need to do more to support older workers and prevent them from falling out of the labour market in the first place. This means more flexible working arrangements to accommodate common challenges such as health issues or caring responsibilities, and ensuring recruitment and other processes don’t discriminate against this age group.  

Greater Manchester has been at the forefront of devolution and has been using its powers to bring together health, skills and employment support to improve the lives of local people. The Working Well programme is a perfect example of this, providing integrated and personalised support to over 18,000 people, and delivering fantastic outcomes and value for money.

Such an approach could clearly be expanded even further to include the needs of older people. Ageing Better’s report shows that more can and needs to be done, and we will use their insights as we prepare our age-friendly strategy for Greater Manchester

We have to act now. In 20 years’ time, over a third of the population of Greater Manchester will be over 50. Making work better for all of us as we age is one of the greatest economic and social opportunities facing our city region.

Andy Burnham is the mayor of Greater Manchester.

For more about the work of Greater Manchester Combined Authority and its Ageing Hub, click here.