Founded in 1995 by Rudy Kelana, Wahana Architects used to be a construction company rather than a design consultancy. “At that time, design consultancies and architecture firms weren’t appreciated like they are now,” Kelana told Indonesia Tatler Homes when we visited his office in South Jakarta. But as time passed, more and more people got hooked on interior design and architecture, until Kelana finally decided to transform Wahana Architects into a design consultancy as well as a construction company.
This transition was made easier after Kelana met his architect partner, Gerard Tambunan, in March 2011. Wahana’s old office was located in the same neighbourhood as Tambunan’s house. The two met accidentally when Kelana attended a 3D design course. At that time, Tambunan had just graduated as an architect from the University of Trisakti. Kelana had heard about Tambunan’s passion for 3D design, so he asked Tambunan to join Wahana Architects. It was the beginning of something very special...
Indonesia Tatler Homes (ITH): Was it always your dream to become an architect?
Rudy Kelana (RK): When I was a teenager, my brother’s best friend, who was an architecture student, came to my house and he brought some of his design work. At that moment, I decided to become an architect. It was as simple as that.
Gerard Tambunan (GT): I always loved to draw, but instead of the usual children’s drawings of houses, I always drew the basement area. In my imagination as a child, the basement connected to the mountain or the sea. And my dad also was an engineer, and he used to take me to see his projects. That was the beginning of my interest in the world of architecture.
ITH: What is the meaning behind the name Wahana Architects?
RK: Wahana means a place in Indonesian. It is actually the place where we have fun together while designing.
ITH: Describe the style of Wahana Architects.
RK: Relaxing, natural, spicy. A lot of spices, just like rendang.
ITH: How about the corporate identity?
RK: For me, humans always dream of freedom. My job is to create a design that provides that feeling of freedom but combined with privacy, and exploring this is a never-ending process. Of course, design is not the solution to all problems—sometimes nature offers its own solutions. But in the end, we try to create emotion for the client.
GT: Many of our clients talk to us after they have actually lived in the projects we’ve designed. They feel that emotion when living in the buildings that we’ve created.
ITH: For Tambunan, tell us your experience when you first joined Wahana Architects.
GT: When I was a fresh graduate, I didn’t know much about architecture, so Kelana always pushed me to do better. He gave me a lot of opportunities and has been a big influence in my career.
ITH: Describe the moment when both of you decided to became partners.
RK: For me, the most important thing about being an architect is passion. We have the same passion, so why not?
ITH: How about the evolution of Wahana Architects from the start until now?
RK: Working on architecture is a never-ending process of finding the connection between buildings and humans. As time passes, we have learned how to explores the human senses to create emotions.
ITH: What do you think is the “ideal” architecture?
RK: I don’t believe in too much exploration of form, but more about the exploration of concepts, and we keep exploring to get the emotion right. For example, when designing a house, most of the inspiration comes from the clients’ lifestyles.
IF: If you were given the chance to turn back time, would you still become an architect?
RK: I can’t imagine myself retiring as an architect. There’s no natural end point.