Urban Farming: Growing Your Food at Home


While most people might regard gardening as a hobby, a family in Serpong decided to take their interest in gardening to another level by making ‘urban farming’ central to their way of life. Instead of having a dedicated greenhouse, plants are grown all around the house and on their roof garden. As a result, the house not only looks good – it also provides for the family’s everyday needs in terms of vegetables and spices.

Photos by Arno Santosa

In today’s fast-moving world many people have decided to go against the current by actively adopting a slower lifestyle. DIY hobbies are blooming as people start to enjoy the process of actually making things. We met up with an elderly couple in Serpong who prefer gardening as their way of enjoying the process of making and growing things. The couple’s interest in plants is not only for aesthetics: they grow plants to supply food for the family with surpluses often shared with their neighbours. This passion has set the theme for their new home.

They went to architect Sigit Kusumawijaya, whom they met at a gardening forum called Indonesia Berkebun, to design their dream home. Sharing the same passion, Sigit was more than willing to help. “Besides the basic living spaces, they had this special requirement that made this house not only special for them but surely also for me. They are more expert that me when it comes gardening, so I looked to them for their advice, especially for the garden space design,” shares Sigit.

The house is made up of two masses under one sloping roof. The ground floor has a living room and a dining room, as well as a kitchen and a bedroom. What makes these rooms special is that, as well as benefitting from plenty of natural daylight and fresh air circulation, they also enjoy a calming view of the garden.

Smaller in size, the first floor has the master bedroom and a rooftop garden. The master bedroom is oriented to the front side of the house so the owners can look out over the neighbourhood as well as having a view of their own garden. The rooftop garden, on the other side, adds visual interest at the back of the house. Being located in different masses, these two rooms are connected with a bridge, which is festooned with vines on one side.

The garden marks the perimeter of the house, but it is also integrated into the house itself. Plants have been used in the wall panels, on the terrace and even in the living room as accents to the interior decoration.

With a huge passion for plants, the owners decided to open their door for those who want to learn about gardening - from adults to kindergarten pupils. Sigit made two entrances to make this possible: one door to access the house, and another one with a ramp that leads to the roof top garden.

The rooftop garden needed careful attention in both the design and construction stages since the owner wanted to use similar plants on this level as in the main garden. “It needed thicker structural beams and columns since it would have to hold the mass of soil, the plants, huge amounts of water, and of course, the visiting guests. We put about a 60 cm depth of soil onto a waterproof flooring that allows the owners to grow vegetables high above the ground,” says Sigit. This area has a selection of vegetables and other edible plants, as well as plants with veltical garden method.

While offering a sustainable lifestyle, the owners and the architect also express their beliefs on food self-sufficiency and reducing imports from other countries with this one-of-a-kind house. The owners appeared more than contented with their new house!

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Barbara Hahijary
Barbara earned her bachelor's degree in architecture from the Interior Architecture Program of the University of Indonesia in 2013. Historical or heritage buildings, as well as utilitarian design, fascinates her as it is the interaction between people and architecture that remains her favourite topic to explore. Besides architecture, her interests include design, handcrafts, literature and social issues.