A line of people hiking through a dense rainforest near Bandung, Indonesia

From Sydney to Bandung: Students share insights from Indonesia

19 September 2023
Expanding horizons through global experience
Students from the Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning travelled to Indonesia to participate in a global studio exploring innovative approaches to creating sustainable urban environments. The experience opened them up to new perspectives and transformative insights.

The annual studio, led by the School of Architecture, Planning and Policy Development (SAPPD) at the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), offers students a unique chance to immerse themselves in a different culture, gain fresh perspectives, and contribute to meaningful projects addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

We caught up with students Cheyenne Mistry and Chantelle Guevara, to learn more about the experience.

Finding new perspectives in Lebak Siliwangi

Exterior shot of a banana tree and rooftops in Bandung, Indonesia

The SAPPD studio brought students to Bandung Indonesia for an immersive learning experience

For Cheyenne Mistry, a Master of Urban Design student, participating in the SAPPD Global Studio was a chance to step out of her comfort zone and gain a deeper understanding of social geography and sustainability challenges.  

What added to her excitement was the collaborative setting of the program, where she would work alongside peers with diverse backgrounds and global experts in the field.

“I took this studio to be immersed in that experience, not just for my own learning, but also for the opportunity to give back to other communities in a meaningful way."

As an urban designer, she was eager to immerse herself in a new cultural setting and gain insights into different social and community values that shape urban environments. The studio involved field visits to informal communities in Lebak Siliwangi to better understand their approach to urban challenges.

People hiking through a clearing near Bandung, Indonesia

Through lectures, field visits and studio work, students explored innovative approaches to creating sustainable urban environments.

"The local community was so welcoming and generous in wanting to share their home and culture with us," Cheyenne recalls.

The adaptability and resilience of the community left a lasting impression on Cheyenne. She was inspired by the effectiveness of their bottom-up approach to decision-making. 

“We tend to think we need more space, and the innovation and evolution within the community have shown that you can adapt to this in quite simple ways,” she reflects. “It just takes social collaboration.” 

“This experience also challenged my perspectives; building off existing practices by paying close attention to the community, is sometimes more effective than trying to impose entirely new planning or policy decisions.”

Learning through collaboration

Exterior walls decorated with murals in Bandung, Indonesia

Students had the chance to better understand informal urbanism by visiting communities in Lebak Siliwangi.

Chantelle Guevara, a Bachelor of Design student, saw the SAPPD Global Studio as a unique learning opportunity beyond the classroom. She was particularly drawn to the program because it would allow her to delve deeply into the topics she explored in the DESN3003 Design for Social Impact unit.

"I was really keen to explore the beautiful city of Bandung by myself and try new food to make the most of my experience. But I think that most of all, I was looking forward to getting amongst the Indonesian people and learning as much as I could in my short time there,” shares Chantelle.

What left the deepest impact on her was the genuine kindness and generosity of the people she encountered through the program.

A motorbike in a narrow laneway in Bandung, Indonesia

The global experience has been transformative for participating students.

“Whether it was the staff and students of ITB or the residents of Lebak Siliwangi, every person I interacted with was so kind and made me feel so welcomed,” she recalls. “Thinking back on it now, it was these kinds of experiences with these incredibly kind people that I will never forget.”

Reflecting on the studio, Chantelle acknowledges how her perspective on design has broadened by engaging with topics of urbanism and informality. As an interaction design student, she was able to experience how interdisciplinary collaboration can enhance the design process.

“Engaging with peers from multiple disciplines and learning backgrounds made me value these alternative perspectives and what they can contribute towards a design solution.”

A transformative opportunity

Cheyenne and Chantelle's experience illustrates how global opportunities foster personal growth, cultural understanding, and a deeper appreciation for global challenges and solutions. By participating in programs like the SAPPD Global Studio, students not only broaden their horizons but also become better equipped to make a positive impact on the world. 

Images supplied by Cheyenne Mistry

Student participation in the SAPPD Global Studio was supported by the Australian Government's New Colombo Plan, a program that assists Australian undergraduates to study in the Indo-Pacific region.

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