Indonesian architect Realrich Sjarief set up RAW Architecture with a view to reviving architecture’s relationship to crafts, building and people. Using Guha, his own live-and-work base in Jakarta as our case study, we welcome RAW onto our list of exciting, emerging studios for the Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory 2021. 

Who: RAW Architecture

Founded in 2011 by Realrich Sjarief, RAW Architecture (or Realrich Architecture Workshop) is a boutique studio in Jakarta, consisting of architects, but also ‘thinkers and craftsmen’, says Sjarief. He goes on to explain that building and crafts are very important in his practice. Architectural design is in fact only one part of a wider, multi-layered practice that encompasses three different platforms. The architecture studio tackles design challenges and leads Sjarief’s sustainable and contextual approach; then, his DOT Workshop laboratory works on building construction and technologies; while Omah Library is the enterprise’s research hub. 

‘I try to re-establish the long history of craftsmanship in my family, who have been builders one way or another for three generations,’ he says. ‘We count 60 years of practice since Indonesia’s independence. My father’s practice had to shut down in the 1998 economic crisis. Around that time, in 2000, I started my journey into architecture. RAW Architecture is reviving this idea of a harmonic relationship between the craftsman, designer, people, and buildings as a whole. It has become the manifestation of this belief.’

As a result, RAW’s work feels rooted to its place, being at the same time modern and experimental. Much of its portfolio consists of contemporary new-builds (such as Alfa Omega School, and Guha, a live/work renovation and extension project, below) that feel organic and at home in their context. ‘We want to deliver unique, relevant, and climate-responsive buildings produced through collaborative research and explorations,’ he says. 

concrete, bamboo and nature mix at RAW architecture’s live/work space, seen here the entrance

What: Guha

This complex is the main base, in life and work, of Indonesian architect Realrich Sjarief in Jakarta’s Taman Villa Meruya neighbourhood. Containing the architect’s own home, his office, RAW Architecture, as well as Omah Library and a separate retail unit, Guha is a live/work composition that combines old and new; natural, native building materials of the region, such as bamboo, and modern concrete; contemporary, urbane forms and spaces, and rich planting and architectural gardens.

Guha consists of an existing building that has been renovated and redesigned, and a brand-new extension. The new element includes three bamboo structures that house the architecture studio. Working with bamboo was a challenge the practice learned a lot from, explains the architect: ‘The design and construction process of Guha’s bamboo parts helped us learn about integrated designs that use natural fibre composite materials with manmade, industrial ones to create sustainable architecture. Working with bamboo offers a sense of discovery but also uncertainty, as research and development in bamboo construction technologies has not yet been adequately developed.’

The build was led by local craftsmen and comprises three floors and a metal roof to the east of the existing building, supported by the bamboo structure. Traditional techniques meet contemporary technologies to produce a result that works with its context – visually, as well as climatically. Natural ventilation and an abundance of planting help to passively air and cool down the building.

foliage at the entrance of RAW architecture’s live/work space

Why: Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory 2021

Conceived in 2000 as our index of emerging architectural talent, the Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory is our magazine’s annual listing of promising practices from across the globe. The project has, over the years, spanned styles and continents, while always championing the best and most exciting young studios and showcasing inspiring work with an emphasis on the residential realm. Now including more than 500 alumni and counting, the Architects’ Directory is back for its 21st edition. Join us as we launch this year’s survey – 20 young studios, from Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, the USA, and the UK, with plenty of promise, ideas and exciting architecture.

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courtyard elevation and green wall at RAW architecture’s live/work space
bamboo structure at RAW architecture’s live/work space
vaulted interior at RAW architecture’s live/work space
library at RAW architecture’s live/work space