As the sky grew dark among the outer hills of Yogyakarta, we spoke with members from Bumi Langit, a permaculture farm practicing sustainable design and development in Indonesia. Sitting around the outside table with founder Iskandar Waworuntu and teacher Meru Segare, we discussed our visit and personal experience of Bumi Langit along with their philosophies of design.
During the discussion, Iskandar Waworuntu brought up notions of design in relation to lifecycle. In essence, many aspects of the farm from material choice, to system design and methods included an understanding of holistic cycles. Earlier in the afternoon, we undertook a tour around the grounds of Bumi Langit with farmer Salas. Salas introduced and explained many of the simple yet effective design solutions they had employed from a functional perspective. One notable example was the bio gas chamber, which utilised animal waste to produce methane gas. The methane gas was then piped directly into the main kitchen, where it could be used for cooking via the gas stove. This complete system solution highlighted elements of sustainable design practice, where a waste product could be used as the basis of another system.
The sustainable life cycle of systems to support themselves, therefore, was one of the key ideas of permaculture practiced at Bumi Langit. As coffee and boiled cassava were served to our table, Iskandar Waworuntu asked us whether we had read the book Cradle to Cradle. He emphasised the concept that design should minimise waste, by mimicking natural systems. In the book, Braungart & McDonough (2002) state:
“Rather than being designed around a natural and cultural landscape, most modern urban areas simply grow, as has often been said, like a cancer, spreading more and more of themselves, eradicating the living environment in the process…” (Braungart & McDonough 2002, p. 33)
In contrast, the design of a permaculture farm (such as Bumi Langit) incorporates natural processes and cycles to benefit and fuel the system, aiming for a balance between humans and nature (Bumi Langit n.d.). In this sense, the relationship and interaction between the environment and humans is interdependent, and is required in order for the farm to function.
As the coffee was finished, we thanked Iskandar Waworuntu and Meru Segare for letting us explore the farm and their home. Our experiences and design research over the day had provided a deep insight into functional, environmental design. Personally, the philosophies of the farm and design elements were inspiring, and left me pondering as we drove down the hill back to the main city of Yogyakarta, if the implication of these ideas across societies could cause future cultural change.
Braungart, M. & McDonough, W. 2002, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the way we make things, North Point Press, New York.
Bumi Langit n.d., Who we are, viewed 9 April 2016,<http://www.bumilangit.org/index.html>.
Bumi Langit n.d., Farm, viewed 9 April 2016,<http://www.bumilangit.org/farm/index.html>.
The Strange Two 2016, Bumi Langit Farm: Heaven on Earth, viewed 9 April 2016,<http://www.thestrangetwo.com/bumi-langit-farm-heaven-earth/>.