Contesting Historic Urban Space: Dispute over Heritage Conservation of Colonial Alun-Alun in Serang, Indonesia

M. A.A. Syahid, K. R. Kurniawan

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Urban preservation program in many cities has been challenged by particular interests and heterogeneous perspectives towards the idea of building a modern city. The dispute often rises over uncertain controversial spatial planning to erect any new large structure on historic urban space. In the case of colonial alun-alun of Serang, the issue occurred when the city ex-mayor designed to build a new Masjid Agung (Great Mosque) on the remaining empty spaces of alun-alun, amidst the pros and cons amongst urban activists, religious groups, and community. Contrary to all expectations, due to the political regime changes, the new government deals with the former idea by collaborating together with university team by justifying in academic attitude to assess the feasibility of the alun-alun to bear such project. The results instead indicated the un-feasibility of it, primarily due to its registered later status as cagar budaya (cultural heritage). It certainly triggered more disputes following the unsatisfactory comments, heated debates and rebuttals during the open presentation session with the government and public citizens of Serang city. This article hence is the proceeding of authors' experiences after conducting the feasibility study for 2 (two) months, by discussing and encouraging extensive views about the dynamics of power relations involving academics, bureaucrats, and urban citizens in contesting the historic urban space as urban heritage beyond the 'scientific' study. Therefore, besides putting efforts on mere analysis the importance of alun-alun of Serang and its heritage values, this article also inclines to underline the intentions of local strategies in utilizing presevation issues as tools throughout political decisions for succeeding multiple aims. The research method then investigates the prescribed regulations, law, urban policies and its implementations in regards with the spatial planning and preservation actions in the level of city. The result of this research is also expected to exemplify the conservation process of colonial alun-alun as an architectural element, urban space, and cultural heritage in local cities of Indonesia.

Original languageEnglish
Article number012068
JournalIOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2019
Event4th International Conference in Planning in the 2019 Era of Uncertainty, ICPEU 2019 - Malang City, Indonesia
Duration: 12 Mar 201913 Mar 2019


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