GaWC Research Bulletin 47

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This Research Bulletin has been published in T Bunnell, LBW Drummond and KC Ho (eds) (2002) Critical Reflections on Cities in Southeast Asia Singapore: Times Academic, 243-264.

Please refer to the published version when quoting the paper.


Corporate Cities - Urban Gateways or Gated Communities against the City? The Case of Lippo, Jakarta

T. Hogan and C. Houston*


Jakarta is big and flat. It is sited on a river delta plain on the northern coast of West Java and has a tropical climate. It is the world's eleventh largest city, being one of sixteen megacities in developing countries, or one of twenty-one in the world. There are only two other megacities in the Southeast Asian region: Bangkok and Manila, both of which share some significant common characteristics with Jakarta. All three cities are the capitals of their nation states and all three are primate cities: Metro Manila is nearly one quarter the population of the Philippines, Greater Bangkok is one fifth the population of Thailand, and Jakarta is nearly ten per cent of Indonesia. Whilst the population of Jakarta is estimated to be approximately 12 million in 1998, the Greater urban region, JABOTABEK, incorporating Tangerang to the west, Bogor to the South and Bekasi to the east, contains at least 17 to 20 million people (Susantono 1999; Firman 1998). The sub-urbanization process is also rapid with fast population growth rates in the outer areas of Jakarta coupled with some population decline in the inner city region. Sub-urbanization should not be understood as the creation of dormitory commuter suburbs as to be found in the cities of Australia and North America for example. Rather, urban sprawl is incorporating and transforming already existing regional towns that contain their own eclectic mixes of industries, services, and housing.

The Greater Jakarta megacity is also the source of greatest population and economic growth rates in Indonesia. The annual population growth rate of Jakarta is nearly twice that of the nation as a whole. Before the 1998 crash, the Gross Domestic Product of the city was 3 percent higher than national rates with the key areas of production being construction, utilities, trade and services, and finance (Japan External Trade Organization 1994). Jakarta as the nation's capital is also the seat of government and is the dominant centre of investment, being the residence of Indonesia's largest banks and corporations and the site of many multinational company branch headquarters.

Whilst rapid growth will always have its attendant problems most of these demographic and economic factors might be seen as positive signs of progressive development. That is, until one examines the infrastructure, planning and environmental dimensions of life in Jakarta. Eighty five percent of new housing stock is informal, the home-made housing of the urban poor. The master plan for greater Jakarta (Jakarta 2005) is a conceptually fine blueprint but is ineffective and non-functioning. In the words of two commentators, it is without a long-term development goal (Sari and Susantono 1998). At a time of economic and political upheaval, there is little political will to implement even the minimal key objective of the Jakarta Structure Plan 1985-2005, which is to ensure for Jakarta "a basic system for formulating policies for landuse, sectoral activities and preparation of the more detailed plans" (1991: 4). Both before and after Suharto, the priorities of governing the nation have overwhelmed the planning needs of the nation's primate city.

Thus road traffic congestion is chronic and the rail system still reflects historic needs of colonial regional development rather than the intra-urban needs of the contemporary population. There is a lack of a proper hierarchy of transportation arterial roads and networks and a haphazard dependence on cars and trucks with only 10 percent of traffic in the megacity given over to rail (Kenworthy et al 1999). Jakarta is the only major city in Southeast Asia that still lacks a rapid light rail transit system of any kind. Sprawl is largely unregulated and land speculation on the fringes of Jakarta is rife. The land registry is notoriously incomplete. The provision of an universal, efficient and reliable urban infrastructure of such essential utilities as telecommunications, electricity and gas, potable water and sewerage systems seems still to be a utopian fantasy instead of everyday reality of and for Jakarta's citizenry. In fact, there is no water supply and sewerage system in Jakarta, but each building or group of buildings has a well and a septic tank; some, unfortunately, have none (United Nations Centre for Human Settlement 1996).

Quality of life indicators for Jakarta reveal a city in crisis, and even more so since the economic and political turmoil of 1998. The increase in the level of riots, looting and arson during this period is significant, but increasing crime rates also represent an endemic problem and a long term trend correlating to mass poverty and increased polarisation between the very rich and the rest of Jakarta's population. A recent survey ranks Jakarta as the 35th best Asian city a long way behind its nearest regional competitors: Singapore (4th), Kuala Lumpur (9th), Beijing (10th), Metro Manila (14th) and Bangkok (26th) (Sieu in Firman, 1999: 460).

The main sources of ill health amongst the city's citizens, however, are as much environmental as socio-economic. Closely tied to rapid industrialization and automobile dependence, pollution levels - air, water and land - are well beyond United Nations standard threshold levels and will continue to increase at rising rates into the foreseeable future. The vast majority of wastewater is discharged without treatment. The annual cost of air pollution alone to Jakarta is estimated to be almost one billion US dollars per annum and it is estimated that air pollutants and biochemical oxygen demand substances are increasing two to three times faster than the economy (Douglass and Ling, 2000: 4f.). The major source of air pollution is motor vehicles. If not addressed with some urgency, Jakarta's already heavy dependence on private road transport and the problem of air pollution will become chronic over the next two decades. Environmental degradation of the coastal plain hinterland has caused severe water shortages in the dry seasons and flooding in the wet seasons. Although there is almost no monitoring of ground pollution in Jakarta, a relatively unregulated and rapidly developing industrialisation process is resulting in indiscriminate dumping of solid and toxic waste disposal on public land and into the river delta system. Yet the government allocates less than 0.5 per cent of the GDP to cleaning up the urban environment (Douglass and Ling 2000: 13).

In sum, according to most environmental measures Jakarta is in a mess, and significantly more so than any other megacity in Southeast Asia. The scale and escalation of this mess discourages even the most optimistic of urban reformers. Yet such megacities will continue to be a major habitat of citizens in the twenty first century, and urban innovation, while of course always desirable, is now more than ever a necessity. Megacities need to be economically viable, ecologically sustainable and politically governable. Ideally, they should also be good places to live, offering a degree of social and political empowerment to their denizens and their governing authorities accountable to those whom they purport to represent.

Following Peter Hall in Cities in Civilization (1998) we define 'urban innovation' as the marriage of culture and technology to solve urban (spatial) problems. Hall argues that cities have always been the prime crucibles of cultural creativity. Modernity represents the onset of new levels of technological innovation, especially in the great industrial cities of nineteenth century Europe and twentieth century North America. He suggests that we are now facing a new era in which megacities are themselves the laboratories for urban innovation specifically directed at solving the problems of urban living in historically unprecedented conditions of agglomeration and complexity (Hall 1996; 1998). Our question here, then, is how does Hall's case for urban innovation apply to Southeast Asian cities? More specifically, in what ways are interventions in greater Jakarta developing innovative and diverse responses to problems of urban order, civic and cultural life? Here we will focus on the rise of corporate cities in general and on 'Lippo Land' in particular, the imagined no less than realized urban spaces developing under the influence of Lippo Corporation's benign rule.

Unlike the systematic collective provision of urban infrastructure by governments in the twentieth century (and this was not only true of communist nation-states but also of western liberal and social democracies), into the new century public-private partnerships and even completely privatized provision is not an uncommon pattern throughout the world. This trend does not mean a diminution of the role and scale of national, regional and urban government interventions but it does signal a significant shift in scope, focus and method. It is timely, therefore, to examine one such example in private urban collective provision. This paper uses a case study of two corporate edge cities to commence an exploration into the larger question of private urban innovation as the collective provision of urban infrastructure to solve problems of post-colonial megacities. 


Drive 35 kilometres west of Central Jakarta and through the heat and air pollution haze one can espy the tower blocks of an entirely new city - Lippo Karawaci (or Lippo Village). Drive the same distance, this time east-south-east of Central Jakarta, and one encounters another significant new city - Lippo Cikarang (or Lippo City). Both cities - east and west - are owned by the one corporation, the Lippo Group of companies. Both were planned at the beginning of the nineties and are now fully functioning cities of approximately 30,000 residents each. The Lippo Group is planning for both to house one million people by the year 2020. Not simply suburban real estate developments but private cities, the Lippo Group has overseen the provision of a full array of urban facilities and systems enabling the integration of residential, commercial, industrial, educational, health, social and recreational services and activities. This construction of an expansive infrastructure, from hospitals to factories, demarcates these two developments from the other fifteen or so New Town developments that have sprung up in recent years throughout Greater Jakarta.

The Lippo Group itself is a collection of companies and subsidiaries with Lippo Bank, one of the ten biggest firms in Indonesia, at its centre. Like nearly all of Indonesia's banks, Lippo Bank was shaken by the economic and social crises of 1998. According to Firman (1999), in the first half of 1998 26 private banks were listed for liquidation and four others taken over by the Government. Lippo Group's diverse interests in both mainland China and Hong Kong have enabled its bank to survive and the Group as a whole to reconsolidate its interests. Both Mochtar Riady, born to immigrant Chinese parents in Java, and his sons, James and Stephen, have extensive business and personal networks in the USA, Hong Kong and mainland China, where the Lippo Group is also investing in the building of retail, commercial, tourist and city developments, if not yet on the same scale as in Jakarta (see Backman 1999 for a more critical perspective).

Lippo Karawaci is built on a 500 hectare site with plans to develop a further 550 hectares in the next two years. The initial buildings constructed in 1992 and 1993 included Indonesia's first kindergarten to grade 12 school where English is the medium of instruction and taught by native English speakers, 1500 landed properties, a 300 bed Hospital, a 200 room five star Hotel, a country club and golf-club, a 300 shop 'Super-Mall' covering over 220,00 square metres and 3 office towers (Benton 1999:17). Since then a number of other significant buildings have been erected including two further office towers of twenty and forty-two storeys respectively, and a fifty two storey apartment building, purportedly the tallest development in the Southern Hemisphere. Whilst the business district at the front of the city as one enters from the Jakarta tollway on the Lippo-built and owned interchange is visually striking, the symbolic centre of the city is arguably the educational facilities. In addition to the international standard school, Sekolah Perlita Harapan, which provides 1500 children including expatriates with 3 swimming pools, an equestrian centre, 2 gymnasia housing 12 badminton courts, as well theatre, music, art and science facilities, there are two other schools providing cheaper education and a university. Universitas Pelita Harapan commenced in 1995 and is housed in a nine storey office block and the city's five storey carpark building. Its current enrolment is 4,000 students but the projected enrolment for 2010 is 25,000 students. A 30 hectare campus is planned for the second stage of the city development. The importance given to world class educational facilities is central to the development philosophy of the Lippo Group so as to ensure the attraction to the area of the upwardly mobile middle class connected to the new informational economy.

A competing icon of the city to that of the skyscraper apartment and business blocks is the American designed golf course. Covering 65 hectares, the 18-hole course contains a lake and a golf apartments estate in the centre. The lake acts as the drainage system for the city. The home of James Riady and family is on the island at the middle of the lake, symbolising the company's commitment to the project but also, consciously or otherwise, echoing the traditional symbolism of Javanese sultanate and Chinese emperor systems of authority.

There are currently some 30,000 residents housed in an array of thematised estates, 40,000 workers employed in the city and on any one day anywhere between 5000 and 50,000 transients or day visitors, many of whom are attracted to shop at the Super-mall. According to Gordon Benton, the Town Manager and Planner, Lippo Karawaci is unique in Indonesia for its efficient, reliable and clean infrastructure: "it is the only township throughout the nation to have drinking water from the tap, municipally-treated central sewerage system, all services underground, hierarchical and traffic-calmed street designs, and [.] a Town Management Division" (Benton 1999:18). This Town Management Division is effectively the City government and runs its own security system.

The housing estates clone the thematic estates of Orange County, Irvine and other corporate city developments in Southern California. At Lippo Karawaci there are such estates as 'Taman Mediterranean Golf', 'Taman Paris', 'Taman Boston', and 'Taman Kyoto'. Properties are sold off the plan and while individual consumers can alter and renovate their homes they must be carried out in accordance with the town code and pre-designed estate styles. Currently, there are 167 designs available for purchase, with new designs being added every two to four weeks. The lack of Islamic references in any of the housing precincts however is striking (more on this later). By contrast, despite the committed Christian religious beliefs of James Riady, a number of designs take account of the principles of feng shui: according to one interviewee, the fourth step in the extensive pool in the Country Club was jackhammered after consultation with a feng shui master, while floors four and thirteen were omitted from the high-rise apartments. Significant, too, is the current absence of religious centres: although there has always been on the master plan three churches and three mosques, the congregations have had to raise the money to acquire the sites and build the buildings themselves. This is particularly difficult for the majority of poorer Muslims working in the various commercial services at Lippo.

The Super-mall shopping centre is not only located close to the Town Centre and the Hotel/Country Club/Golf Club complex. The shopping centre contains within its airconditioned walls a large fun park and pagoda and concert stage. There is also a Taman Sari Village Centre, consisting of a children's playground and neighbourhood centre, restaurants, boutiques, post office, pharmacy and drycleaners all designed in a 'cool Sunda-cum-Bali architectural atmosphere' (promotional pamphlet). The design might be nativist but the effect is reminiscent of medieval revivalism of village green preservation societies in England. During the political turmoil of May 1998, the Super-Mall was put out of action by looting and arson and the repair work has taken over two years to complete. In the interim period, an outdoor Vegetable Market and Garden Centre has been developed.

There are no industrial parks in Lippo Karawaci but there is a business park/trade centre consisting of 400 units of 3 and 4 storey shophouses. While there are other industrial estates just outside the borders of the city the Lippo Group's investment in industrial zones is focussed on Lippo Cikarang.

Delta Silicon Industrial Park comprises some 180 hectares of the 1000 hectares that makes up Lippo Cikarang. Lippo Cikarang, too, is only partly occupied and the general quality of infrastructure investment, although relatively high, is considerably less than at Lippo Karawaci. Though the original plan envisioned the development of an industrial estate supplemented by some residential uses, the revised Concept Masterplan intends the site "to develop into a viable city of its own serving as a new centre to the surrounding industrial and sub-urban housing" (Lippo City Masterplan: 7). Lippo Cikarang too provides a variety of housing styles and sizes, from expensive condominiums (Taman Olympia) to other more modest rows of terraces (Edward and Mary) to dormitory housing for workers in the industrial parks. The city centre boasts a four star hotel, shopping mall, office towers, convention centre, hospital (unfinished), golf driving range, a waterworld and club facilities, as well as several well-resourced English medium and local schools.

The Delta Silicon industrial park itself, well-landscaped and greened compared to the mass of slum housing built up between itself and Bekasi, has as the name suggests high hopes of becoming not only a hub for export manufacture but also a local portal to the global high-technology economy. Despite, however, attracting some pharmaceutical companies, the industrial park has been unable to bypass the concentration of semi-skilled and routine assembly work common to Indonesia and house many 'clean', more knowledge-based and information-type services. Nor has it been able to act as a command centre for local and international capital. Still, although exact numbers are unclear, Delta Silicon is base to over 250 different manufacturing and trading enterprises.


There is nothing new about the concept of New Towns. The term itself is an appropriation of the Garden City movement's idea that the reform of the industrial cities of dreadful night in England and elsewhere could be reformed via the modelling of alternative city living at their edge. The Garden City movement promised a reconnection of nature to the city and the establishment of alternating rhythms of work and leisure by planning cities that integrated industrial, housing, commercial and recreational settings (Hall 1996).

Three things happened in the implementation of Garden City ideals that radically distorted the initial ideals of the first reformers: the garden city ideal was implemented as a garden suburbia, with the complete separation of different urban activities into zones broken by green belts and arterial road systems; the population density levels were radically reduced with an emphasis on bungalow housing in private suburban real estate developments; and third but not least, the populist nature of the social movement was subjugated and replaced by the state which in turn refocussed on the development and provision of mass public housing - especially in high rise flats and walk-up two or three storey apartments in new estates made possible by the cheap application of modernist architectural and building principles after World War Two. Here the emphasis was on modernising the infrastructure of the existing industrial urban centres using the latest innovations in technology and building materials and applying the rational-bureaucratic principles of Fabian planning ('gas and water socialism'). In effect, then, there were two kinds of new towns in Western European, North American and Australian cities in the long economic boom after World War Two: private real estate corporations designing and development garden estates with a strong emphasis on detached bungalow housing in dormitory commuter suburbs, and public housing estates for the working classes in new town edge developments. Both movements placed a maximum emphasis on zone planning, traffic calming and cul-de-sacs of local roads, green belts separating different use zones and a heavy dependence on the automobile as the mode of transport of choice.

In both cases these new town developments were framed by a larger accountability to urban and regional planning departments and their elaboration of legal and civil codes for shaping the long term development of cities. This was an era of public and proactive planning by the state itself. It is this modernist, social democratic form of urban planning (or ideal and practice of garden cities) that has been adopted and adapted in the entirely novel settings of Southeast Asian cities, most spectacularly in Singapore but also in Kuala Lumpur and to a lesser extent and much more recently in the three southeast Asian megacities.

The Garden City movement, however, also belongs to a much older lineage and tradition of reactive urban reform that dates back to the work of Robert Owen in the late eighteenth century, and to that of the company town. It is Robert Owen and his first experiment at New Lanark in Scotland that sets the prototype of the paternalist capitalist who builds the city in his own image but in the name and interests of its workers. Examples abound in both the United Kingdom and North America especially but most experiments failed not from lack of capital but from the vagaries of the boom-bust cycle of capitalism and the resentment of workers in the employ of the paternalist capitalist. Where both factors coincided, the collapse of the town followed. Others, however, simply merged into the advancing sprawl of bigger cities or the company would sell off the various housing stock to its inhabitants or to other corporations. Moreover, the death of the North American company town correlates with the historic transition from entrepreneurial family capitalism to managerial corporate capitalism (Fordism, Taylorism).

Strange but true to say, the Lippo Group and its urban experiments represent a reappearance of both types of new town urban innovation. Karawaci and Cikarang are company towns that are modelled on the imaginary of garden city design principles. On the one hand, they represent a throwback to nineteenth century liberal capitalist organization whereby family companies work in a relatively unregulated environment and where nation-state governance and social and contractual forms of trust between companies are weak. On the other hand, these two corporate cities reflect both the lessons and the aspirations of the garden city movement both as social movement in the first half of the twentieth century and as state-planned new towns in the second half of the twentieth century. The Lippo Group appears to have two goals: first, to make both short and long term profits in speculative real estate developments; and second, to express its own utopian hopes for designing the good multi-functional polis that can act as both model and provocation for emulation and extension to Jakarta as a whole and to other megacities in the region (Benton, 2000). These two goals are not necessarily incompatible but they do have overlapping timelines and within the corporation are embodied by various personalities with ever-changing levels of prioritization and self-consciousness. This is not the place to tell such a story, but it promises many fascinating insights into corporate managerial culture and the invisible economies of desire that have always shaped entrepreneurial capitalism.

How best to interpret these aspirations and experiments? Irrespective of the mixed and complex motives of the company and its executive members what are the outcomes of these developments? Do these model new towns represent urban innovations that effectively intervene to solve some of the large-scale problems of economic viability, environmental sustainability and political governance that characterize the development processes of Jakarta? 


In part the answer to these questions will depend on one's frame of interpretation. There are at least four popular frames of interpretation to hand in contemporary urban social theory that might help us to understand the rise of the new corporate cities at the edge of megacities. First, there is an argument that claims the global cities of the new information age contest and secede from the territorial power of nation-states. Second, and in contrast to the first argument, a dissenting frame claims that the city is the crucible for a reorganization of the nation state project and its production of nationalism, rather than its supercession. A third frame attends more to the local urban ecology of class, ethnicity, gender identity and placemaking. Fourth but not least, there is the question of the role and place of technological innovation in these new cities.

The most popular thesis is also the boldest: globalization and the rise of the global city. Roland Robertson defines globalization as the "compression of the world and the intensification of consciousness of the world as a whole" (in Hogan 1996: 282). It is Manuel Castells, Saskia Sassen and Peter Hall, however, who have turned globalization arguments into an argument about global cities. In Castell's synoptic view, for example, global cities are the dominant nodes of the abstract space of flows. In particular, informational cities are technopoles that are the 'milieux of innovation' in the new informational and communications age, which Castells dubs as the network society. For Castells, megacities are by definition global cities, for they disconnect the city from its regional hinterland and the nation-state project. They purportedly articulate the elites to the abstract and global space of flows by facilitating increased mobility, concentrating the elites in new places of identity formation and other non-places - such as international airports, hotels and mega-malls - that are designed to mediate abstract power and communication flows. Castells also asserts that the same processes which articulate the new class of symbolic analysts also leads to the fragmentation and disorganization of the poor in these megacities (Castells 1996).

Castells' argument for the informational city in an era of globalization would seem to devalue the role of the nation-state and the world nation-state system. In this view, the city is the key site of mediation of global flows which short circuits and disempowers the nation-state. Accordingly, corporate cities like Lippo Karawaci and Lippo Cikarang might be best interpreted as prime exemplars of the new informational city that provides a space for the new symbolic analyst elites. However, the case for Lippo Karawaci is stronger than for Lippo Cikarang for at least three reasons. First, Cikarang is located in the official industrial zone to the east of Jakarta. Second, Karawaci is located within seven minutes of the international airport and the mooted national airport. This location seems to be a self-consciously planned move by the Lippo Group as signalled by its extensive acquisition of a land bank connecting the two airport zones and by its initial investment in constructing a major road interchange at the entrance to the city that fronts the tollway from central Jakarta. Thirdly, as we have already noted above, Lippo Karawaci packages an array of international first class facilities and services to provide a cosmopolitan lifestyle for its globally mobile inhabitants. The centrality and iconic nature of the golf course symbolises the kind of citizen sought by the corporation.

Matters are more complex, however, than would seem to be the case in the informational global city frame. Michael Douglass (2000), for example, has argued that whilst globalization increases the power of cities vis a vis the nation state it also increases local territorial and civic power struggles so that the mediation of global and local politics is provided in part by territorial polities at local, regional and nation-state levels. This is to point back to what Zygmunt Bauman has already noted: what is globalization for some is localization for others, meaning the two processes and their subjects are dialectically related (Bauman in Beilharz 2000).

The role of the nation state in local urban development is even more interesting when we move from the rather systemic global frames of reference in much urban social theory to look at the specific histories of Jakarta as framed in the brilliant work of Abidin Kusno in Behind The Postcolonial (in press 2001). Rather than attend to the global dimensions of the new informational city, Kusno reminds his readers that Jakarta as the theatre of the revolutionary national self-consciousness is in fact the prime space and site for becoming 'Indonesian'. This affinity of Jakarta with Indonesia (city/nation; place/identity) not only embodies nationhood in the spaces of the city, but inaugurates a status hierarchy across time-space whereby Jakarta is the pinnacle of Indonesian modernity to which all Indonesians aspire. In brief, Jakarta is the shaper of national consciousness and as such is central to the nation-state project. Kusno is able to demonstrate how the regimes of power as expressed in the politics of city building under Indonesia's first Presidency of Sukarno (1950-1965) through to the second President, Suharto (1966-1998) were distilled in the streets and urban forms of Jakarta. The nationalist and revolutionary project of Sukarno required Jakarta to be the theatre of populist sentiment and participation. He desired Jakarta to become a great city to emulate the imperial and global centres of Europe, North America and East Asia. The centre of Jakarta was re-imagined in the monumentalism of city beautiful and international style modernist architecture. Wide boulevards, baroque fountains and sculptures, and skyscrapers were the order of the day. On the other hand, Sukarno as the charismatic leader sought to call forth the masses as the active subjects, the people of the new revolutionary nation-state called Indonesia. Sukarno loved to hold mass meetings in wide plazas pumping his people with the rhetoric of nation building, the central role of the poor, and the overthrow of imperial and capitalist dynasties from near and afar. Because Sukarno identified himself as 'the tongue of the people' he needed to constantly mobilize crowds on the streets. By the sixties, 'the city of Jakarta became a symbolic representation of state power' (Kusno: 101f.). If Sukarno was the personal embodiment of the will of the people, Jakarta was the synedoche of the nation. Or as Kusno would have it, 'once one identifies with the nation's capital, one is an Indonesian' (103).

By way of contrast, President Suharto's New Order politics required a spatial and political reorganisation of Jakarta even as it remained the prime site of the nation-state developmentalist project imaginary: Suharto's regime, "officially named the New Order, legitimized itself by 'decapitating' the supreme leader, disembodying the single collective body of Sukarno and turning the revolutionary street into a space of discipline and fear." (Kusno 2001:103). This was the negative disciplinary dimension to the New Order imaginary. The positive dimension was the creation of a new regime of desire and identity for the new generation of modern urban Indonesians through the building of elevated highways (to flyover the kampungs), constructing office towers, promoting exclusive dream housing estates and shopping malls. The emphasis was and continues to be on linking these new urban spaces and segregating their subjects from the streets and kampungs of the urban poor. The new middle classes learn to perceive the poor and their living spaces as a danger to both their own hopes and the development of the nation state. The periodic murdering and display of petty criminals on the streets by agents of the state and the Jakarta government's attempt to close the city to migration coupled with the transmigration scheme of the Jakartan poor to outer islands of the Indonesian archipelago are but two examples of this reconceptualisation of the city and of the problems of urban danger, excess and irrationality. In the words of Governor Sadikin for example, because the poor lacked 'urban rationality' they were a constant danger to the state's modernization project and therefore required continuous surveillance and 'the strong arm of the law' (Sadikin in Kusno 2001: 108). The spatial separation and polarization of the poor from the rich made this task of law and order much easier.

How does Kusno's argument, crudely summarised here, help us interpret the rise of the corporate cities of the Lippo Group? For Kusno, the New Order New Towns are not best viewed as examples of Castells' global informational city that secedes from the local politics of the nation-state but rather confirms its centrality in making possible the conditions of upward mobility and escape from 'the city' of the poor (115). In this view, space and its representation is not merely a device of domination and exploitation, but an ordering process whereby the middle class learn also to be good citizens of the New Order developmentalist state by accepting the terms of their positional goods of luxury and liberty as secured through the fixing and surveillance of the poor and through their own self-discipline. The urban middle class learn how to enter and leave the spaces of the city without compromising their own space in the enclaves of their own gated communities.

Looking through our third frame, there is still more to learn if we attend to the specific characteristics of the urban ecology of the middle class consumers of these new towns of luxury and liberty bought at the price of constant vigilance and fear of the neighbouring poor beyond their city gates. Ken Young has labelled the new towns as 'academies in consumerism for the new middle class' (1999: 70). There is a substantive content to the cosmopolitan hybridism that has to be learned, by its practitioners as much as by its marketeers, architects and planners. It is not sufficient to label the lifestyles of the new urban middle class in these new corporate cities 'consumerist' without also learning about what is on the curriculum of these 'academies' themselves. To our surprise the essential urban design principles of Lippo Karawaci and Lippo Cikarang are recognizably inspired by the conceptual heritage of the garden city movement. Our first sighting of these cities was a 'shock of the old', as if Ebenezer Howard and others had absent-mindedly mis-placed their plans in another time and space. This impression is not entirely wrong even if a little reductionist. For one, the original architect of the concept plan for Lippo Cikarang, Meng Ta Cheang, has spent most of his career in Europe. Moreover, James Riady was so enamoured with the North American model of suburban real estate developments such as Orange County, Irvine, Beverly Hills, and Newport Beach that in the early nineties he arranged for his Lippo Karawaci Directors and planners to be flown at the company's expense to Southern California to see how it could be done. As we have noted above, the main housing styles and estate themes are direct clones of such models with minor modifications to allow for different climatic conditions. Even so, as Abidin Kusno and Robert Cowherd have both independently demonstrated in their papers in this book, the design of these estates and housing styles and the appropriation process by their occupants is anything but a simple unilinear process of metropolitan promotion and colonial emulation and consumption or in fact a case of empty cosmopolitanism that inheres in post-colonial globalization.

We might further explore the intricate details of the design imaginary and the urban ecology of the new Jakartan middle class by noting too that Lippo Land, raised from paddy fields on the city's edge, is not concerned to rework or even allude to indigenous (pribumi) or Islamic cultural styles or practices. Rather, its design seeks to engender the creation of new social relations that arise from healthy spaces and forms. Rabinow would call the principles that inspire its architecture and town planning 'middling modernism', its design providing a living space for a universal (not particular) subject whose "needs, potentialities and norms could be . discovered and formalized by science" (1992: 168) and not by revelation.

He contrasts this with a second modern planning discourse, techno-cosmopolitanism, in which technical planning complements already existing cultural and aesthetic spatial practices. We might find techno-cosmopolitan ideals at work in the Malaysian Prime Minister's new office in Putrajaya, with its references to mosque architecture and the orienting of the site's central boulevard towards Mecca (Dovey 2000). But more significantly, the history preserved or commemorated by 'techno-cosmopolitanism', as a theoretical urbanization practice, is always a politicized conservation: history (monuments, styles, culture) becomes in this context "the ground of which society's future form could be legitimated" (Rabinow 1989: 12). Imagined spaces conjure up imagined communities to inhabit them, and vice-versa. "Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret.", writes Calvino (1974: 44).

It is not altogether surprising, then, that the Chinese Indonesian urbanizers behind Lippo Land have chosen middling modernist principles upon which to found a city. Nor is it surprising that the new rich, disproportionately of Chinese origin, have rushed to consume the modern life-styles there on display. Chinese experience in Indonesia hardly encourages techno-cosmopolitan harmonization with, say, Chinese temple forms. (Yet the hypothetical choice of the temple as the signifier of essential Chineseness would necessarily preclude other vernacular styles and practices.) We might, then, consider collapsing in the Indonesian context the difference between Rabinow's two moments of modern planning, to wonder whether Lippo City's inspiration by middling modernist universalism (zoning, green belts, functionality, cultural pastiche) becomes one way of expressing ethnic Chinese identity in the present (see Thung 1998 for a further discussion on Chinese identity in Indonesia). Perhaps this is another way of saying with Ariel Heryanto that Chineseness in Indonesian public culture is being 'de-ethnicized' (1998: 95ff). In other words, middling modernist rationalistic forms might both express and constitute a particular cultural identity in certain pressing political contexts. To document this more thoroughly, however, we need at the same time to study other groups' uses of techno-cosmopolitan discourse, to see for example how Islamist developers, designers and architects may be constituting more particular Islamist spaces, in contradistinction to Chinese ethnic modernism.

We might ask, too, whether working sites of global luxury (like the Lippo Cities) don't facilitate nationalizing projects in another way. In an early work (The Uses of Disorder) Richard Sennett argued that in the boom of affluent suburbs in the 60s and 70s something essential of city life began to die out. In a complex city space there is no "easy myth of solidarity", no "simplicity in a concept of who I am by what I do and what I believe" (1970: 57). By contrast in the class specific rise of corporate cities, as in the so-called white flight to the suburbs, the multiplicity of contact points disappears, leading to a "gradual simplification of social interactions and forums for public exchange" (ibid: 51). Sennett here is not thinking of nationalism, but if the disorder of the street made it difficult to identify with the homogenized identities proffered by the post-colonial state, couldn't Lippo City ironically allow for an easier Indonesianization, not a separation from Indonesia via a global connection? If the defining norms of the nation, as inscribed in Lippo City, were presented as more technocratically universal, constructed around life-styles and not ways of life, it would make sense for Chinese Indonesians in particular to be at the forefront of such a change. Paradoxically, perhaps, a consumerist life-style with its own finely-grained distinctions might allow wealthy Chinese to cloak themselves in the protective material of a new lowest denominator nationalism, while - along with a Javanese elite - distinguish themselves in class terms.

To turn to the fourth frame of interpretation, which is to view these corporate cities as urban innovations which marry culture to technological change, these two Lippo cities model how private companies can provide more efficient and reliable infrastructure than previously achieved in Jakarta: communications, sewerage, water, solid waste disposal, security and so forth. They also provide an integrated community life-structure for its residents: recreational, shopping malls, health and educational facilities of a world-class standard. This infrastructure also models the world's best practice in terms of zone planning, green belting, traffic calming, etc. As we have already noted, however, order and cleanliness in a picturesque setting are on offer at a price: the thematising (through pre-packaging) of aesthetics and the exclusion of those who cannot pay the price of joy on the market (to paraphrase Ruskin's humorous parody of the romantic poet, John Keats). The only way in which corporate cities can claim to model the new city to the urban poor is to fall back on the pieties of the multiplier and trickle down models of development theory. In practice they are models for emulation - in cultivating the desire of future middle class participants. Further, the two cities remain predicated on the motor vehicle and so do not contest the primary source of air pollution and traffic congestion in Greater Jakarta. The environmental consciousness of these developments is about lifestyle, not ecological sustainability. Golf courses are not good examples of nature at work.

The economic viability of the two cities of course is integrally related to the ultimate fate of Greater Jakarta. Nevertheless the diversification of economic activities (Karawaci) and industrial estates (Cikarang) is crucial to their long term viability. The hinterland kampungs surrounding the two cities provides the greater part of their labour forces. The policing of these urban poor and working classes and their surveillance at the cross borders of the two cities is a daily task of the two corporate city private security forces and planning teams. It is symbolic of the wider question of urban politics and the policing of the private/public split that is endemic to liberal democracies also. In this case will private affluence reinforce public squalor or can private collective provision start to overcome the pressing needs and deprivations of the urban huddled masses of Greater Jakarta? The extraordinary effectiveness of getting these two cities from the drawing boards to living embodied reality in the space of a decade is testimony to the ambition and discipline of the Lippo Group directors. This is in itself is a challenge to public authorities in an era in which they have shown themselves to be lethargic, inefficient and corrupt. Nevertheless, the Lippo Group exists in the last analysis to extract profit from their activities and investments and so the question of political authority and accountability in corporate cities remains disturbingly ambiguous, especially to those habituated to the expectations of liberal democracy and a public sphere instituted at the local and regional as well as nation state levels of governance.

Whether or not these two corporate cities represent urban innovations for the long term reform of Greater Jakarta remains an open question on at least two fronts: the ultimate sustainability of the projects, and the possibility of emulating such a model. On the first front, the jury is still out on the commercial success of the two cities. It will be interesting to observe how successful Lippo group is in obtaining their ultimate goal of one million residents in each city and on what timeline. What is certain is that Lippo Karawaci and Lippo Cikarang are gated communities for the new upper middle class - and in the specific dynamics of urban and national politics of Indonesia - for the Chinese Indonesian upper middle class in particular. The history of gated communities along ethnic and class lines in other climes and locations does not encourage enthusiasm for the fate of Lippo Karawaci and Lippo Cikarang should they become expensive ghettoes of the Chinese Indonesians.


We thank Gordon Benton, John Hopton, Tony Torrens, Meng Ta Cheang, Bambang Susantono, Thung Yu Lan, Henny Warsilah and Yekti Manuati for their time and reflections freely offered to us about Lippo and the contemporary challenges of emergent megacities in Asia. We are particularly grateful to Ibidin Kusno for sharing with us two chapters in proof form of his forthcoming book Behind the Post-Colonial. As can seen by our discussion in this paper we are indebted to his analysis of Jakarta as 'urban space and the making of the National Subject'. We are grateful to Lisa Drummond and the organisers of the Southeast Asian Urban Futures workshop, Singapore, 2000. We acknowledge financial support by the Australian Research Council. Trevor is also appreciative of the hospitality, intellectual stimulation and technological support provided by Peter Newman, Professor of City Policy and Director of Institute for Sustainability and Technology Policy, Murdoch University, during the redrafting process. Needless to say, none of these interlocutors is responsible for the views developed here.


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* Trevor Hogan and Christopher Houston, School of Social Sciences, La Trobe University, Victoria, 3086, Australia.

Edited and posted on the web on 14th June 2001

Note: This Research Bulletin has been published in T Bunnell, LBW Drummond and KC Ho (eds) (2002) Critical Reflections on Cities in Southeast Asia Singapore: Times Academic, 243-264