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Rara Warakanyaka

MPhil work

Transient Interior and the Alternative Urban Inhabitation

This research explores the role of transient space on the streets of Jakarta, Indonesia: space that is not generated through proper planning, but produced by the traditional activities and cultural supports inhabiting the streets. By incorporating interior ways of seeing, the research addresses space as an urban interior, an artifice that is built by a set of complex experiential, temporal and subjective aspects and which allows temporary inhabitation in the urban context. The research aims to highlight the often concealed potentials of transient space, and reconsider its position within the urban environment. 

In cities like Jakarta, where ‘modern ideology’ is blindly adopted and pursued, discussions around informal inhabitation of the street are often focused on finding suitable methods for eliminating it. With the help of the mainstream media, the general public perceives the space as the ‘other’, as a disruptive urban element. Although various disciplines have raised the topic of informal transient space and acknowledged its potential as an economic, social, political and spatial force, it is still rarely seen as a product of a creative practice due to its size, visual attributes and close association with marginalised communities.

This project investigates the production and occupational aspects of transient space on the street of Jakarta by incorporating both ethnographical and phenomenological approaches. As an urban interior, this space is built upon multiple narratives and complex environmental systems; however, due to its status as an ‘informal’ spatial practice, most of those aspects are kept hidden or concealed. Thereby the approaches used have to be able to unpack or to make visible all of those hidden narratives through careful observation and encounters. 

The findings of this research are expected to establish a theoretical and design framework for how interior practice could actively participate in the development of the urban environment. This research also aims to help gradually overcome the marginalised stereotype built upon the informal transient inhabitation by raising awareness of its potential in accommodating city’s livelihood, especially in the present days where people are becoming more nomadic and opt to constant change. 


  • MPhil


    School of Architecture


    Architecture Research, 2019–

  • Rara is a designer and researcher with a background in architecture and interior design.

    She previously represented Edinburgh College of Art at Shanghai College of Fashion, Donghua University, as a flying academic, delivering courses to fashion interior students. She has also lectured in the Department of Architecture, Faculty of Engineering, Universitas Indonesia, teaching Interior Architectural Design Studio from 2016–18.

    Rara is part of the research and design team in the Architectural Design Research Cluster, Universitas Indonesia, where most of her projects explored the way people inhabit interior spaces. She is also a managing editor of

    She loves to travel and has always been fascinated by cities.

  • Degrees

  • MFA Interior Architectural Design, Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh, 2016; BArch Interior Architeture, Universitas Indonesia, 2012
  • Experience

  • Flying Academic at Shanghai College of Fashion, Edinburgh College of Art, Shanghai, 2018–19; Lecturer, Universitas Indonesia, Depok, 2016–18; Managing Editor, Interiority Journal, 2017–present
  • Exhibitions

  • ECA Degree Show, Evolution House, Edinburgh, 2016; Tanahku Indonesia Vol.1, dia.lo.gue Artspace, Jakarta, 2017
  • Awards

  • LPDP Awardee, 2014–16; LPDP Awardee, 2019–23
  • Conferences

  • Feeling at Home in Starbucks: Revealing Transient Urban Interior, UIA 2017 Seoul World Architects Congress, UIA, 2017; Let There Be Light: The Informal Interiorization in High-Density Urban Settlement, CUI '17/V. International Contemporary Urban Issues Conference Istanbul, DAKAM, 2017; Understanding the Importance of Time in Interior Architectural Design Method, International Conference on Architectural Education in Asia (eduARCHsia), Universitas Islam Indonesia, 2017; The Role and Presence of Cultural Objects as Temporal Attributes in Balinese Ngaben Ritual, The Asian Conference on Arts and Cultures, 2014; Understanding the Heart of Living Space in Balinese Traditional House Through Cinematic Approach, HABITechno International Conference “Innovation Housing and Settlement Technology”, ITB, 2013
  • Publications

  • Tracing the Progression of Inhabitation through Interior Surface in Semarang Old Town, Interiority, 1(1), 2018, pp.64–78; Live Beyond Buildings: The street as the everyday living space in Istanbul, Turkey, Environment-Behaviour Proceedings Journal, 2(6), 2017, p.303