The Other Side of The World

April 14th, 2009 by Ted


I’ve been doing a lot of traveling lately… Asia, New York, New Orleans. On each of the trips, design has been at the reigns. I’d like to take a minute to describe my travels to Asia during one week in March and share a once-in-a-lifetime project I’ve been involved with at Georgia Tech this spring.

A group of 9 architects, 1 industrial designer (me), 1 anthropologist, and 2 health system engineers have been working since January to design a health clinic for a village in Sukadana, West Kalimantan. Kalimantan, otherwise known as Borneo to us westerners, is an island in Indonesia situated on the equator, exactly 12 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. The weather is a constant 85° with 90% humidity, making HOTlanta seem like the arctic.

Who are we working for? An American MD named Kinari Webb and her health organization named Health in Harmony provides integrated essential health care and environmental education to the citizens of Sukadana. It is one of Health in Harmony’s missions to reduce the local illegal logging industry towards preservation of the Bornean rainforest, home to one of the planet’s largest assets of flora and fauna including wild orangutans! It turns out Dr. Webb had a connection to a fellow at Georgia Tech, who pulled resources to organize the course.

After months of work, six students from our group were sent to Borneo (expenses paid via a grant) to present architectural plans as proposals to the organization. During an intense 3-day charette, we gathered their feedback in order to create a more informed design. Those involved in the charette included Dr. Webb, her health clinic staff, and the community who would ultimately be using and building the clinic. Each day of the design discussions took place at Health in Harmony’s current health clinic which is a 3-room house next to the ocean.

We returned from Asia full of ideas, rice, and a realistic outlook on what life looks like in Indonesia. On a personal note, it was humbling to be in a place so disconnected from western culture and so full of noise and LIFE. This information is being pumped into a final, refined design that will be handed over to the Health in Harmony group in a few weeks at a final presentation in Atlanta. Those architectural plans will be used to gather funding in America to be put towards construction starting in November.

See some pics of my journey after the jump

The location was very remote, meaning we were on an average of 1.5 planes per day.
The final list of places visited is as follows:

Seoul, South Korea
Jakarta, Java, Indonesia
Semarang, Java, Indonesia
Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia
Pontianak, Kalimantan, Indonesia
Ketapang, Kalimantan, Indonesia
Sukadana, Kalimantan, Indonesia
Pangkalan bur, Kalimantan, Indonesia

The Sultan’s Palace in Yogyakarta, Java

One of the 7 wonders of the world, Borobudur, a 5th century buddhist monument, overlooking foggy mountains.


Children ride bicycles by our van on the way across the island of Java. They carry flags celebrating the harvesting of rice.

We take a break hiking through the rainforest.

We find a man cutting down a 100+ year old rain forest tree for lumber.

We find a man cutting down a 100+ year old rain forest tree for lumber.

The main street in Sukadana. In Indonesia, motorbikes are KING!

A typical house in rural Kalimantan. This may house 4-8 people.

The existing Health in Harmony clinic. The local government had setup tents on this day, as doctors were arriving to provide free cataract surgery.

We present our architectural plans to the health clinic staff. They covered the walls and our models sat on the table.


We get a tour of the health clinic’s site neighboring, which will be used to build the new clinic and now houses a seedling nursery to help grow replacement trees.

Down the road from the clinic, looking out onto the bay. The water was a constant 70°… great for swimming.

We spent one night in Seoul, Korea. Big contrast between Korea and Indonesia.

See more photos and Videos HERE

Category: Asia, Design, Misc. Comment: 2 Comments »

2 Responses

  1. Larry Says:

    wow, sometimes it’s nice to forget everything at home and expose urself to new things. very cool post, ted!

  2. Epidemik Coalition » Blog Archive » Around the World Says:

    [...] Ted’s headed back to Borneo to continue the work from when he went overseas earlier this year and the complimentary Estate LA 5-Panel cap that he’s wearing in this photo is going with him. It’s pretty cool to realize that in a matter of 5 days, that cap will have traveled from Los Angeles > Atlanta > Brooklyn > Borneo. Category: Misc., ATL Life, New York, Hats, Caps, Asia, Los Angeles Comment: Leave a Comment [...]

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