Indonesian firm SHAU with APTA and Studio Cilaki 45 has designed a 15-hectare vice presidential palace complex in Nusantara, the new capital of Indonesia in East Kalimantan. Titled ‘Huma Betang Umai’ –meaning Mother Long House, the design interprets the indigenous Dayak long house into a contemporary, sustainable-regenerative, and people-centric palace. The project has been chosen as one of the winners based on a national open competition staged between 28 March-28 June 2022, organized by the Ministry of Public Works and Housing. While the masterplan and infrastructure of the new capital are being planned to host 1.7-1.9 million inhabitants by 2045, the vice presidential palace construction is planned to commence in 2024.
The existing site is a hill covered with mostly eucalyptus trees for pulp production. In the 1980s under the Soeharto regime, the primary rainforests have been replaced by non-environment-friendly mono-cultural production forests. Currently, there is still a patch of rainforest left on the site, which must be preserved and extended to reforest the whole site. An orchid trail and a recreational retention lake are envisioned to be open for public use.
In general, palaces have always been about the representation of power. Yet today, in the age of planetary emergency, any new type of government building should showcase responsible and performative design while at the same time providing plenty of public spaces for the people.
The main building is placed on the hilltop, with other buildings terracing downward following the topography. The passive design concept is dominant: all long facades are oriented to minimize solar heat on the East-West surfaces and enable self-shading. This layout additionally provides a view of the botanical garden in the South. The mosque is oriented differently. Roofs and terraces are planted lushly to further reduce heat gains and help with rainwater management. Thin floorplans help to maximize cross ventilation and natural lighting to save energy. A hybrid ventilation system with air conditioning and fan necessary at peak hours tackles the hot and humid environment with reduced operational energy. Furthermore, a reflective pond and courtyards are designed to boost a more comfortable microclimate. A circular elevated and covered walkway connects the main building, mosque, secretariat, and supporting buildings. A monumental staircase equipped with a funicular is open to the public. The palace roof can accommodate 4000 solar panels each 500W with peak power of 2000KWp which produces 2,8 GWh/year of energy -assuming 1400 kWh/kWp/year- which can provide 100% of energy for the palace with a 25% surplus. This calculation refers to an exemplary green building with the use of hybrid air conditioning in Singapore.