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[Bali life] Waterproofing for rooftop garden make me think about sustainability

Hi I am Takeshi, founder and architect of

The second treehouse will be completed soon. What I'm doing now is creating a rooftop garden on top of a shipping container that forms the base of the treehouse. To do this, I need to waterproof the top of the container, make sure it drains well, and also create topsoil for the plants to grow in. I've been doing this job for nearly a year now, partly because I've been doing it in my spare time, but also because this work was initially asked a contractor and they didn't do well. So, I am redoing this by myself.

I have been living in Bali for 10 years now and the villas here don't last long. Many foreigners sign a land lease for 25 years and then build their villas on top of it. After 25 years, if you don't renew the lease on the land, the buildings you put up on top will be taken away. You hear people say, "What am I going to do?" but there's nothing to worry about. I am almost certain that the villas I build will not last for 25 years (^^;).

I am a person who studies everything I do, so I studied concrete, metal, wood, etc. to the utmost of my ability when building's office. The more I study, the more I realise that many buildings in Bali are built to a frightening quality. I have honestly never seen villas built with holes dug into the bedrock below to make a foundation. The concrete villas are made by people kneading them with shovels. In many cases, they are painted onto concrete blocks that do not seem to have any rebar in them, or even if they do, they are made to standards unthinkable in other countries.

Quality of building is about whether or not we are trying to build them properly. I often go to the HQ of Ministry of Development Planning (Bappenas) in Jakarta and I admire the grandeur of the building. The building was apparently built over 150 years ago as a facility for Freemasons. In other words, when you look at the 150-year-old building that is still standing today, the current poor quality building is not caused by technology or the availability of building materials, but it is about mentality.

This story leads us to talk about sustainability. Sustainability is foresight. Unless you have the ability to look ahead, you can't think about sustainability. We know that reusing rather than recycling is not only better for the environment, but also economically. Prioritising short-term "price" and not considering the lifetime "value" of the item is a well-known paradox of sustainability. We know it, but we can't stop. The same can be said of the villas in Bali.

Our office construction is only about a third of the way through the plan, even though it took four years so far ;-). I'm trying to build a building that has a value and so I'm happy with that! But I guess my family and staff would like to see it completed sooner rather than later.

This is the 2nd treehouse exactly 1 year ago, so I still see the progress.

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