Jakarta. The sidewalks along the streets of Sudirman and MH Thamrin in Central Jakarta are undergoing a major change with more and more buildings removing their fences to allow spacious pedestrian areas.
At least 25 multi-story buildings on Sudirman-Thamrin streets currently have no fences, with some using plants as borders with public spaces.
But most of the roughly 70 big buildings along Jakarta’s busiest streets are still surrounded by tall fences despite calls by the city government to remove them.
Governor Anies Baswedan has been encouraging building owners to remove fences since the city co-hosted the 2018 Asian Games.
Earlier this month, Anies reiterated the call as he attended an event to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Chief Editors’ Forum.
While acknowledging security concerns as the main reason for tall fencing in the capital city, Anies promised to help increase security arrangements for buildings that agree to remove fences from the property.
Deputy Governor Ahmad Riza Patria is also a fan of fenceless buildings and he pointed to the legendary state-owned shopping center Sarinah on Jalan Thamrin that recently introduced a new concept of open spaces for visitors and pedestrians after the reconstruction project.
Sarinah’s surrounding yards are now blended with the city’s sidewalks under the new landscape policy.
"We certainly want all buildings along the streets of Sudirman-Thamrin to be more open," Riza said.
The city government is intensifying efforts to expand and improve sidewalks on Sudirman-Thamrin where there are subways and underground stations that invite more pedestrians above the ground. In addition, all crossing bridges along the main streets have been renovated and upgraded for more safety, convenience, and a better look.
The ongoing city projects will gain the maximum effects if all building owners agree to remove their fences, according to urban landscape expert Yayat Supriatna.
“Fenceless buildings are more pedestrian-friendly. It would be better if they provide pedestrian lines along the building’s corridors,” Yayat said in a recent interview.
According to him, many Jakarta governors have persuaded building owners to keep their yards open or at least use living fences, but without much success.
On the other hand, building owners and landlords have a reasonable ground to construct security fences because many street protests often take place along Sudirman-Thamrin and sometimes they go violent. In January 2016, a group of militants shot firearms and detonated bombs near the Sarinah building.
“The idea [of removing fences across Sudirman-Thamirn] has been in discussions since a long time ago, but security concerns and potential disturbance from crimes, demonstrations, and terrorism force building owners to construct fences,” Yayat said.
“The Jakarta government must provide security, safety, and clean environment insurances before they can effectively get building owners to remove their fences,” he added.
And why should building owners demolish fences when many government buildings on the same streets like the Education Ministry are still surrounded by fences of more than two meters in height?
Nevertheless, a number of Jakarta residents spoke in favor of fenceless buildings on conditions that security issues are settled first.
“There need to be stricter measures on security and cleanliness around the office area because an open access will allow people to come and go freely,” said Bella Barliana, 22, who works at a renowned bank on Jalan Thamrin.
Kamilla Ramadhania, an employee of a media company on Jalan Sudirman, agreed that fenceless buildings are good for pedestrians but warned that “not all of them are good people”.
“I have no problem with that plan because it will benefit people on sidewalks but we need better security,” Kamilla said.
In October 2020, street protests against the job creation law left at least 46 TransJakarta bus stations severely damaged and caused Rp 65 billion in property losses to the city government.
"Vandalism often occurs during demonstrations," according to a Jakarta resident who identified himself only as Hendi.
The following is the list of buildings along Sudirman-Thamrin which have no fence:
1 Indonesia Stock Exchange
2 Mandiri Tower
3 Sequis Center
4 Graha CIMB Niaga
5 Ratu Plaza
6 FX Sudirman
8 (building under construction)
9 (building under construction)
10 Intiland Tower
12 BCA Tower
14 The Plaza
15 Topas Tower
16 Gedung Jaya
17 Sari Pacific
19 Oil Center
20 Plaza Bank Index
23 Sudirman Plaza
24 Millennium Centennial Center
25 (building under construction)
The following is the list of buildings along Sudirman-Thamrin which have fences:
1 Tax Directorate
2 Plaza Asia
3 Sudirman Tower
4 Asuransi MSIG Indonesia
5 Makarim And Taira
6 Graha Metropolitan Asia
7 Administrative Reforms Ministry
8 Panin Bank
9 Education Ministry
10 Le Meridien
11 Grand Sahid Jaya
12 Da Vinci
11 Mid Plaza
12 Wisma Nugra Santana
13 Astra Tower
14 Prince Center building
15 Wisma Keiai
16 Graha BNI
17 Plaza Galeon
18 Plaza Indonesia and Grand Hyatt
19 Japanese Embassy
20 Lippo Thamrin
21 Election Supervisory Agency
22 Thamrin Tower
23 Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs
24 Religious Affairs Ministry
25 Bank Indonesia
26 Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry
27 (building under construction)
28 Bangkok Bank
29 Wisma Mandiri
30 Cakrawala Tower
31 French Embassy
32 Sinarmas Land Plaza
34 Deustche Bank
35 Mandarin Oriental
36 German Embassy
37 The City Tower
38 Wisma Indosemen
39 Chase Plaza
40 International Financial Center
41 Mayapada Tower 2
43 (building under construction)
44 Plaza Sentral
45 Atma Jaya