21 November 2018, The Tablet

Building community

Architecture and faith

Building community

Part of Romo Mangun's Kali Code settlement in Yogyakarta


Thirty-five years ago, on the banks of the river Code in the city of Yogyakarta, on the island of Java, Indonesia, construction began on a remarkable settlement that would secure the reputation of a maverick Indonesian architect, novelist, political activist and priest.

If not totally neglected during his lifetime Yusuf Bilyarta Mangunwijaya (inset), popularly known as Romo Mangun (“Fr Mangun”), operated at a considerable remove from the mainstream. Yet he was a remarkable architect whose work drew praise from figures such as B.V. Doshi, Fumihiko Maki and Frank Gehry.

To Western eyes his ecclesiastical buildings might be Basil Spence’s earthier tropical cousins: adventures in humane modernism that fuse local materials and contemporary  style with just enough form to keep them at a safe distance from the sort of alternative eco-structures you get at Glastonbury Festival.

Get Instant Access

Continue Reading

Register for free to read this article in full

Subscribe for unlimited access

From just £30 quarterly

  Complete access to all Tablet website content including all premium content.
  The full weekly edition in print and digital including our 179 years archive.
  PDF version to view on iPad, iPhone or computer.

Already a subscriber? Login