• Addina F

Bandung Creative Communities as the Potential for Sustainable City Development

Bandung is Indonesia’s second-largest metropolitan with the third-largest city population. Bandung is considered as a major community, design, and cultural hub in Indonesia. Bandung as a metropolitan city now is battling a lot of problems. Fortunately, Bandung has a lot of creative communities built by citizens to help each other for their city development. The communities themselves are created collaboratively by people in various fields and backgrounds. Some of the creative communities have the potential as a collaborative service to develop in the future. This article will discuss some creative communities in general aspects and their potential as a collaborative service for sustainable city development, especially in Bandung.


Bandung is considered a major city in the community, design, and cultural hub in Indonesia that the economy is mainly built upon tourism, business, creative industry, and food production industry. Creative culture has shaped some of Bandung’s economy; local businesses sell products made by local designers such as books, magazines, fashion products, and also furniture or home products. The creative culture and communities are arising from the youth generation that is mostly entrepreneurs, designers, and college students.

As a metropolitan city with a total area of 166 square meters filled with 2.5 billion people, now battling with a lot of city problems. The city suffers from air pollution because of the traffic; people tend to use private cars or motorbike rather than public transportation. Public transportation is cheap and provides multiple routes throughout the city but there is no clear routes information about it. Some of the green space of the city is taken over by the commercial building development.

The crisis and necessity to change the current government and public sector structure leads the concerned citizens to created communities, programs, or initiatives to form more co-operative solutions for the issues. The communities itself are created by collaborative citizens, as a group of people who collaboratively solve problems or open new possibilities (The Challenge of Co-production, 2009).

Creative Communities

There are a lot of creative communities related to city development issues and creative industry in Bandung. These creative communities are with the most promising and potential cases. Their initiatives are in the third stage of social innovation1, which is Prototyping and Pilots; where ideas get tested in practice (related to the iteration, trial and error, linking users, and conflict interest) through formal pilots, prototypes, and randomized controlled trials (The Open Book of Social Innovation, 2010).

A. Bike BDG

BikeBDG (Bike Bandung) is a bike-sharing program made in 2011 by a community that concerned with the city transportation issue and traffic. The idea is to provide bicycles as one of the alternative transportation in the city. The community provides 150 bicycles in 10 integrated bicycle rental shelters in the city. Their aim is to improve people in choosing alternative solutions for environmental-friendly transportation and to reduce traffic in Bandung. This program is the first bike-sharing in South East Asia.

B. Bandung Berkebun

Bandung Berkebun is an urban farming initiative by a creative community since 2010 that aims to transform unproductive or negative spaces into an urban gardens. This community also educates youth, adults, and seniors through workshops, class, and sharing sessions about gardening and green lifestyle to build their awareness about the environment and sustainability. This initiative is growing bigger in 34 cities in Indonesia called Indonesia Berkebun.

C. Peta Angkot Bandung

Peta Angkot Bandung is an initiative by the youth community that is concerned with the public transportation facilities' information in the city since 2011. The aim is to develop and to share and distribute Bandung’s public transportation to the people. The community develop diagram and city map with the public transportation system and distribute it in a café, events, and workshop. This community educates students through workshops, sharing sessions, events, and social media about the importance of using public transportation. This initiative is growing in Bandung’s young generation, mostly university students.


Taking a look at the examples of the initiatives; these creative communities have common characteristics (Based on Creative Communities: People Inventing Sustainable Ways of Living, 2007. A Laboratory of Ideas. Diffuse Creativity and New Ways of Doing.) ; 1) Rooted with location and context issue, 2) Use local resources, 3) Promote new way of social exchange, 4) Linked to other networks or similar initiatives, and 5) Collaborative. They have one crucial thing that triggered/inspired by the local crisis, and poor performance by the government and the aim is to be the agent of change for better sustainable living in the city. These initiatives are called urban acupuncture, as a move that can give energy to the area and create the context for social innovation, and these small-scale symbolic projects can have energy that can make the city more open to the social innovation.

The current condition of the initiatives is an important measuring tool for the government to see if it’s potential to develop or not. There are some of the next steps after prototyping for social innovation:

1. Sustaining: The phase when the idea becomes everyday practice. Involves sharpening ideas and identifying income streams to ensure long-term financial sustainability. If it’s the public sector, this means about budgets, teams, resources, and legislation.

2. Scaling & Diffusion: At this stage, there are strategies for growing and spreading initiatives. Started to see demand and supply in the market, commissions, and policy.

3. Systemic Change: This phase is the goal of social innovation. Systemic change is the change of many elements; social movements, business models, laws, regulations, and entirely new ways of thinking. Systemic innovation commonly involves changes in the public sector, economy, and usually for a long period. (The Open Book of Social Innovation, 2010)


In this article, all of the initiatives made by the creative communities are co-production. Co-production itself is the model, which public services can begin to prevent social problems. Understanding that this is only possible by providing a catalyst for citizens. It means public services build a mutual support system that can tackle problems and encouraging behavior that will prevent these problems happening in the first place, and build the social networks that can make this possible. It means public services reshaping themselves. (The Challenge of Co-Production, 2009). The first step is to take social innovation as a kick-off point or catalyst to society. The city needs citizen collaboration for the development because of engaging citizens in the whole system change processes. Citizens played a critical role in redesigning the system. The result of the collaboration between local and national authorities, experts, and local citizens will formulate and implemented as a series of community-based interventions (Open Book of Social Innovation, 2010).

To sum up, by involving citizens in the design and implementation of the programmed, the initiative of social innovation will be served as a learning process for the citizens to develop their city. This means that the collaborative citizens’ initiatives can be a potential services for sustainable city development.

(AF, 2017)

Networks and Services

Politecnico di Milano