Andra Matin: Creating Inspiration
Andra Matin, also known as Aang, is a household name in architecture. He has 30 years in the industry under his belt, has received international awards, and his designs have inspired many other creative minds. In his interview with Indonesia Design, he talks about the less glamorous side of architecture, his recent “Prihal” exhibition, inspirations and many more.
From 27 November until 11 December 2019, the National Gallery of Indonesia had a different entrance than it usually has. A wooden corridor was added in front of the main hall, where one side of the walls depicted a timeline of more than 800 architectural projects that were handled by andramatin, the architecture firm that Aang founded in 1998. It made an impressive entrance into the exhibition called “Prihal”.
Many of andramatin’s projects are well known, but a lot of the 49 mockups exhibited in the main hall are the less popular ones. “I think, the popular ones don’t need to be highlighted because they are more accessible and the information is out there in the media. So we decided to highlight more of the non-commercial projects, like Rumah Purun and Desa Ilmu [in Purwakarta],” Aang said. The exhibition was curated by architects Danny Wicaksono and Artiandi Akbar.
The exhibition didn’t only display successful projects, but also the cancelled ones. “When people are to look for an architecture firm, they can be prepared to experience failures once in a while. Not every project gets to see a happy ending. Surviving 20 years in this business is not easy,” Aang explained. “Prihal” also displayed material exploration, stories from office life and returning clients. “Returning clients happen when there is trust. They don’t only see your design, but how you can make them trust you,” Aang added. Amongst the returning clients are the Banyuwangi District, Tulang Bawang Barat (Tubaba) District and the well-known Indonesian actor, Nicholas Saputra. Seeing the title, which derives from the Indonesian word perihal, which means “about”, the exhibition basically talks about the many sides of Aang.
He mentioned Le Corbusier as one of his biggest influencers, from the thinking process to the details. Like the works of this Swiss-French architect, Aang’s work also incorporates elements of surprise. “I think it’s important for people to leave a building and have memorable impressions,” he says. From the design of his own house to Rendo Park in Ende and As Sobur Mosque in Tubaba, you can see how he walks the talk.
Aang always applies local and traditional elements in his architectural design, though it might not look it to untrained eyes. His remarks on this was, “Traditional elements are not only about ornaments. There is the procession, scale, proportion, and many more. I like to emphasise those rather than ornamental things. For instance, walking up to Pura Bekasih and walking through the gate, the path stays elevated. In Borobodur, the statues are more simple on the top compared to the ones on the lower levels. So we can find other essences to apply to our design.” Aside from that, he also likes to use local materials. A case in point, using bricks that are traditionally used to construct temples in Bali for the Katamama Suites in Seminyak.
“An architect has to think about what’s right, like how to effectively use energy. Aesthetic is important, but don’t let it drive your design. When your design is based on honesty and righteousness, aesthetic will follow,” is his advice to young architects.