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Indonesia Design Magazine I 11th Anniversary

Construction Guru

Ir. Davy Sukamta, Fellow P.E.

Principal, Davy Sukamta & Partners, Structural Engineers, Indonesia


We often attribute the splendor of a building, especially a skyscraper, towards the talents of the architect only. This is not entirely wrong, but when we try to understand how the beautiful building is actually built, the mechanism of construction planning and technology of the building needs closer examination. Construction expert Davy Sukamta is a prominent figure in the business and Indonesia’s icon in the field of structural design. In recent years, he has also successfully made a name for himself abroad. Responsibility, relentless innovation and authoritative knowledge about the technology of structural design have turned his structural consulting firm into the number one player in the field.

What’s the story behind your involvement in the world of design, especially in the structural design field?
I have been interested in the field of structural design since I was at university. I have always admired tall buildings and their structures when I read about them in the available literature during my university years.

Could you tell us about your first professional project?
My first professional project was a factory building in Bogor, which I designed when I was still studying at university. I applied steel and composite constructions for the building. I had to look for literature on my own because in my classes, details about steel structural design were not comprehensively taught.

You have a long portfolio throughout your career constructing well-known towers. Is there any specific philosophy that you apply when you accept a project and begin to work on it?
We always pick the project selectively and do it with a hundred percent commitment. There is no allocated time quota in finishing a project. Our main emphasis is that the
resulting design is accurate and good. We feel satisfied with our works if they are excellent. In the early when we make fee proposal, we consider the attitude and responsibility of the client towards existing regulations, towards the quality of the building and towards the stakeholders of the project. We try to avoid working for a client who is only profit-oriented.

What’s the biggest challenge for you in doing a project?
Teamwork with a client has a different dynamic for each project. When working for foreign clients, we strive to show them how we, Indonesian people, are ready to compete at the international stage. We also want to show that we have a very high level of capability and responsibility, and that we have managed to become the ‘trendsetter’ in our own country. With local clients, we want to invite all participants to work responsibly and not just work to achieve profit. The main challenge comes from how to position ourselves in order to steer and motivate the whole team into a better direction. Attitude and responsibility is the main challenge in order to finish a design well.

Among your many works, which one is your favorite, considering from the design to the level of difficulty?
Pakubuwono Signature, a 50 story residential tower with the height of 252 meters. The building is designed from scratch by local Indonesian designers. We joined the project from the outset, and we managed to create an efficient structure thanks to a good dialog with the client, architect and other teams. For the building, we applied a lateral resisting system in the form of core wall and outrigger. Another building worth mentioning is Gedung Gudang Garam that employs a base isolation system with earthquake-resistant device that separates the super-structure from its foundation. This is the first skyscraper in South East Asia to apply this base isolation system. The building’s design is far more complicated compared to other similar structures.

And what do you think about the development of structural design in Indonesia thus far?
In terms of structural design technology, we are not that far behind most developed countries such as America and Japan. However, the obstacle that we have to face is the large number of designers who tend to take the easy way out by creating low-quality designs – either because they don’t know how to do it or because they don’t care. If we want to be recognized, then we must show excellent performance. In terms of construction process, we need skilled field workers with proper and legal certifications, something that our government should help manage. We also need expert staff that are not only exceptional in hands-on techniques but are also well versed in building structure issues. This is still a rare occurrence. Furthermore, the form work technology used for concrete construction is a bit obsolete, as with the lifting capacity for the cranes commonly used in construction, which is too small. In addition, the production capacity for steel fabricators is also limited so it will be difficult to satisfy the demands of steel construction in the future. 

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