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Cultures, Communities and Design

Factors Sustaining City’s Distinctiveness. Case Study Surabaya, Indonesia
L. Sigit Arifin


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Cities always have their own spatial organization and distinctive patterns of change through time, which result in patterns of community behaviors and dynamics of which are specific to the city’s identity. Learning from history, a big city was started with small settlements or villages close to the river. Some of them had famous stories about their old kingdom which were told from generation to generation. Learning from old cities in several countries, we can detect how history has played an important role and has been giving a good ambience of the city. Such as the dominance of river transportation in the old days gives the special ambience to its cities and the residents as well. Surabaya was chosen as the second largest city in Indonesia that has 729 old years (since 1273). Keputran village is one of the historical villages inherited from royal Surabaya in the past. This study aims to define factors that sustain the Keputran village identity in Surabaya, by looking at the history and the present condition of the Keputran village. Hermeneutic Phenomenology approach was chosen to grasp people’s daily life and the history that has been told. How life is performed in a rhythm of a knitting of the past stories stitching with present daily life. A temporal porosity is experienced while eating in the street, taking a nap in a shady corner, or drinking a cup of coffee in a ‘warung’. It is as if daily life is knitted and connected through temporal passages that represent the simple momentary experience of occasion. Thus, these everyday occasions construct Keputran village identity. This study found factors which are sustaining Keputran village’s identity: consistency to celebrate the traditional events to express their spiritual values, people’s memory that supports people’s interactions, and their daily life on space experience. Even Though, people ‘s lifestyles have changed, Keputran villages still survive until nowadays.


Lilianny Sigit Arifin is a Professor at the Architecture Department, Petra Christian University. Having close to 40 years of experience in academia, her main research interests are the challenges and opportunities that Kampung in cities face with accelerating social change, focusing on the social dimension of sustainable communities. Her research expertise lies in Housing and Human Settlements and design for social sustainability involving community based, participatory approach. She got research grants from the government three years continually 2013-2015, to determine the original characteristics of Kampungs as a spontaneous settlement in Surabaya. She is also interested in hermeneutic phenomenology approach to analyze the people’s experience in Kampungs and develops courses about Housing and Psychology with service learning methods as a field learning experience for students.