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Sustainable Urban Development in Indonesia

Development of a national framework for sustainable development along with implementation guides for pilot eco-district projects in three cities on Java Island: Semarang, Wonosobo, and Yogyakarta.


Central and Southern Asia




Urban Design and Public Space

Project Details


  • Yogyakarta, Semarang, Wonosobo (Indonesia)


  • Consultancy


  • Ministry of Public Works and Housing (PUPR)


  • Krill
  • Vriens & Partners
  • Bérim




The Ecodistrict Programme, initiated under the GCDP (Green City Development Programme), aims to create sustainable urban areas that effectively integrate environmental considerations with urban planning and management.

The approach consists in sustainably integrating all urban components of the GCDP in the planning and design of urban projects: water, solid waste, energy, transportation, economy, open space and community. Based on an understanding of the social economic, geographic, cultural, and historical context of the site, a spatial framework is defined which connects all interventions into one easily communicable narrative. This innovative perspective brings multiple outcomes and co-benefits. It envisions a dot on the horizon for a comprehensive and resilient project and invites all stakeholders to participate in reaching this. The effect of each project is multiplied, and this efficiency is the backbone that defines the Ecodistrict.

Arial view of three pilot cities in Java Island

Under the lead of the Agence Francaise de Development and the Indonesian Ministry of Public Works and Housing, the cities of Yogyakarta, Semarang and Wonosobo were selected as pilot contexts to develop three sustainable Ecodistricts.

In this framework, TSPA team, together with the engineer office BERIM, the architectural firm Krill, the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy and Vriens & Partners – collaborated with the cities’ municipalities to develop the Ecodistrict Programme that aims to be an active instrument to implement Green Cities in Indonesia.

The challenge was not easy, but extremely interesting: is it possible to envision a dot on the horizon for a comprehensive, resilient and shared way to make cities in Indonesia?

To answer this question, the consortium held three onsite workshops, with the goal to engage city planning officials in a process to define the concept of the Ecodistrict and, at the same time, to collectively build a set of targets to successfully realize it in the urban context of Indonesia. As main output of these workshops, an organic set of projects for each district was combined into an integrated report that was released at the end of 2019.

Yogyakarta - Ecodistrict as Example for the Preservation of the Landscape Heritage

The Ecodistrict site is a rural-urban area, and as such one of the materializations of a typical Indonesian urban typology: the peri-urban desakota (desakota means village-city). The mixture of formal urban planning with its efficient infrastructure, spontaneous rural village neighborhoods with walkable streets, the patches of agricultural land, and the river as a backbone, makes for a potentially pleasant and green urban environment. However, the green character is under threat by ongoing urban development.

Therefore, the city wishes to restore and preserve green urban spaces to mitigate the urban heat island effect and improve health conditions for the inhabitants. The Ecodistrict will be a showcase of low carbon, efficient and sustainable urban areas.

To achieve this vision, the series of interconnected projects were proposed within a comprehensive sustainable territorial framework. These include the Green Network, Rain Gardens, Science Park, and the Heritage and Tourism Village project, alongside a Water Supply Management project. By enhancing connectivity through the Green Network, enriching local neighborhoods with accessible open spaces, and ensuring the availability of safe water, the Ecodistrict is poised to evolve into a sustainable, egalitarian, and resilient community. This initiative not only promises a better quality of life for its residents but also aims to serve as a beacon for sustainable urban development across Indonesia.

Semarang - Ecodistrict as Example of Water Management Based Urban Planning

Semarang is a coastal city with a strong relationship to water, both from rivers upstream and from the sea. Because of this, Semarang has the potential of becoming one of the world’s leading cities in water management. The everlasting flood danger, scarcity of water resources and land subsidence bring water management experts from all over the world to share knowledge on this field. The city is continuously improving its water management system, providing new green open spaces to enhance water absorption capacity, designing intricate drainage systems and building impressive flood protection infrastructures, and showcasing this in recreational use of its water bodies.

The Ecodistrict in Semarang aims to showcase intelligent water management, aiming to inspire urban planning across Indonesia. It includes Blue Network - interconnected wetlands and ponds, integrated with drainage and collector canals. This initiative aligns with the urban block regularity—uncommon in Indonesian cities—which facilitates the seamless integration of infrastructure and drainage systems. Streets are transformed into a Green Mobility project to encourage walking and reduce motorized transport. The district also boosts economic benefits through enhanced public facilities, including a market, food court, and creative sector involvement. Additionally, Sustainable Urban Utilities projects manage wastewater and solid waste, minimizing pollution and maintaining clean water within the Blue Network.

Wonosobo - Ecodistrict as a Leverage for Green Economic Development

Wonosobo, located on a hill ridge between Mount Sumbing and Sumburo, benefits from its natural setting, offering potential for biodiversity, food provision, green development, tourism, trade, and water management. Its citizens envision it as a garden city developing as a polynuclear settlement.As the smallest of the three pilot cities within the ecodistrict programme, will function as an ecocity, rather than ecodistrict: The area covers the entire municipal central area, project extents depend on demand and impact

Three project clusters address the challenges the city is facing and foster green development: existing green links and water networks are strengthened and consolidated to form a Blue - Green Network. The redevelopment of market into a Green Economy District aims to transform it into an economic hub with fit-for-purpose policies to incentivise local economic development, reduce traffic loads, while improving the protection of the green spaces in the area.