Active Materiality as The Basis of Architectural Design in Dealing with Pollution


  • Ruth Kartika Purnasasmita Universitas Indonesia
  • Yandi Andri Yatmo Universitas Indonesia
  • Paramita Atmodiwirjo Universitas Indonesia



materiality, living material, material growth, active-passive, pollution


This paper describes the architectural design process based on an understanding of living materials’ properties and their growth process in response to pollution. The development of the design method was based on the existence of living materials and their potential to be the active unit of architecture. Living materials could actively grow and adapt through their reactions to external factors, in this case, pollution, allowing the material to be in a passive phase temporarily due to the forces. This paper focuses on the development of design methods based on the understanding of algae, fungi, and lichen as the living materials that will detect and detoxify air and soil pollution around Daan Mogot, West Jakarta. By conducting research through design, this paper then proposes architectural design by injecting the active-passive growth process of living materials (algae, fungi, and lichen) into the context using split and absorb mechanisms. In response to pollution, the active and passive schemes of living materials become the foundation of architectural design. This paper then proposes the term "active materiality," considering the existence and capability of the living materials as the active unit. The development of an architectural design method in this study demonstrates the possibility of design ideas to enhance dialogue between humans, other living things, and the environment and to develop programming to respond to environmental issues.


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Author Biographies

Ruth Kartika Purnasasmita, Universitas Indonesia

Graduate Student, Department of Architecture, Faculty of Engineering, Universitas Indonesia
contributed to research design preparation and literature review, data collection, data visualization, data analysis, and article drafting.



Yandi Andri Yatmo, Universitas Indonesia

Yandi Andri Yatmo is a professor of architecture at Universitas Indonesia. He obtained his PhD degree from the School of Architecture at the University of Sheffield, where he previously studied for Postgraduate Diploma in Architecture (with RIBA part 1 and 2) and Master of Architecture. Yandi was awarded Kenneth H. Murta Prize in Architecture from University of Sheffield in 2001, Holcim Award Asia Pacific in 2011, National Lecturer Award in 2012, IAI Jakarta Award in 2012 and a number of design competition prizes at national and international levels. His professional experiences include working for Singapore Housing and Development Board (HDB), Encona Engineering and during the recent years he has been engaged with various research-based design works. His current works are primarily on design theories and methods and their relevance to design practice. He is particularly interested in developing research-based design, evidence-based design, as well as various design approaches that are rooted on the society everyday life and community participation. He is currently an editorial board member for International Journal of Technology, the chair of Architectural Education Board for Indonesian Architects' Institute (IAI), the member of Advisory Team for Universitas Indonesia Campus, and the leader of architectural design research cluster at the Department of Architecture, Universitas Indonesia.

Research Interest Design methods, research-based design, evidence-based design, participatory design Expertise Architectural design


Paramita Atmodiwirjo, Universitas Indonesia

Paramita Atmodiwirjo teaches architecture at the Universitas Indonesia since 1998. She obtained a PhD in Architecture at the University of Sheffield. Previously she studied for her first degree at the Universitas Indonesia and Master of Architectural Studies at the University of Sheffield. Her research interests are on the relationship between architecture, interior and the users’ behavior, and how such relationship should be the basis for designing for the users’ well-being. She is particularly focuses on the importance of human body in our understanding of architecture and interior, and the needs to pay attention to users with special needs including children, elderly, diffable people and patients in healthcare setting. She is also active in developing learning methods for architectural education, to promote students’ creativity and awareness of the relationship between users and space. She also works closely with schools and communities in various community engagement projects to improve the quality of spaces for learning and living. She has also been involved in the development of national standards for educational facilities with the Board of National Standard of Education (BSNP). She has been awarded Holcim Awards Asia Pacific 2011, Teaching Excellence Award 2014 from Faculty of Engineering Universitas Indonesia, IAI Jakarta Award 2012 and Community Engagement Award from Universitas Indonesia in 2010 and 2011. She is the member of scientific committee for Asian Journal of Environment-Behavior Studies (ajE-Bs), and the secretary for International Association For Lifewide Learning (IAFLL).



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How to Cite

Purnasasmita, R. K., Yatmo, Y. A., & Atmodiwirjo, P. (2023). Active Materiality as The Basis of Architectural Design in Dealing with Pollution. EMARA: Indonesian Journal of Architecture, 8(1), 1–13.