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Withering Heights

Bali Debates the Need for Allowing Building Higher than 15 Meters High

(11/18/2011) Recent suggestions to change provincial zoning laws to allow the construction of buildings taller than 15 meters in height in order to reduce growing pressure on limited property resources in Bali, is earning comments, both for and against the proposed change, from various elements of Balinese Society.

Bali’s vice-governor A.A. Ngurah Puspayoga, told the Bali Post that he was committed to opposing any efforts to allow taller buildings in Bali, viewing desires for skyscraping buildings as threatening Bali’s endemic culture.

Puspayoga said that Bali has earned the world’s respect for its strong cultural identity. According to the Vice-Governor, the style of building and architecture in Bali is a cultural tradition handed down from past generations and now forms an intrinsic part of Bali’s unique identity.

Puspayoga said: “Because of this, I remain committed that buildings in Bali should not be higher than 15 meters high. If this happens, for whatever reason, Bali will no longer be Bali. Bali will lose is charm and have lost its pride.”

Responding to those who insist new regulations to allow taller buildings in Bali is necessitated by Bali’s interests projected one hundred years into the future, Puspayoga said it was better if future generations deal with the dynamics of their own time. He said a more pressing issue of the current era was how to achieve a more equitable distribution of development between the north and south of Bali.

In the vice-governors scale of priorities, he also sees the need for infrastructure improvement, as a much more pressing need than a new building code in trying to improve the public’s welfare.

Other opinions from across Bali regarding the need for higher buildings in Bali:

Nyoman Parta, S.H. – PDI-P Politician

“I have observed development over the past three years in which 3,400 hectares of agricultural land has had its function diverted. Because of this, I have begun to think that buildings of more than 15 meters are needed in certain areas. I hope the experts can create a comprehensive plan where buildings can be higher than 15 meters. Unlike other regions rich in natural resources, Bali has only its land and culture. In order to protect agricultural lands, building of more than 15 meters should not be allowed on agricultural lands, buffer zones, protected forests, city forests and areas surrounding religious temples. For specific area dedicated to government projects, such as hospitals, it should be considered whether or not buildings of more than 15 meters should be allowed.”

Made Sudana, S.H. - PDI-P Politician

“Buildings of more than 15 meters high need to be discussed now in order to anticipate developments 20-50 years into the future. Because of this, buildings of more than 15 meters should be allowed and zoned to specific areas, “ said Sudana.

Sudana is of the opinion that tall buildings should not be allowed near agricultural fields, but should be allowed in areas of former excavation to allow low-cost apartments to be built.

I Made Arjaya – PDIP Politician

“In principle, I have yet to agree with changing regulations to allow taller building because we need to take a holistic approach, considering the historical, sociological and rules-of-the-game implications. Remember, Bali is a tourism destination based on the Hindu cultural values of ‘Tri Hita Karana.' Bali is different from Hawaii, Thailand, and Cebu in the Philippines. I ask, who is it that is actually leading the call for taller buildings? Is it investors, contractors or the Balinese? If buildings of more than 15 meters are allowed, how many Balinese will be able to build houses of more than two storeys? I am not yet in agreement for a change to the rules on building heights.”

Tjok Kertiyasa - Golkar politician

“I agree with studies to allow buildings of more than 15 meters to provide an opportunity to the public to innovate in anticipation of the future. Nonetheless, buildings of more than 15 meters must retain Balinese building styles. On one hand taller buildings should be allowed but problems on the ground, such as sewage, need to be intelligently handled. Meanwhile, criterion of balance and Hindu religious values must be accommodated. Developments above 15 meters should be directed to areas that are sparsely populated. Secondly, the public seeking to have better-organized neighborhoods need the taller buildings. Because of this we need to create a new zoning reguation.”