JAKARTA – The Australian Embassy has a new home in the Indonesian capital, which was completed earlier this year. Melbourne-based firm Denton Corker Marshall has built the miniature town in the south of the most populated city in the country.

The embassy precinct is made up is made up of three distinct components: the area for government agencies; an executive residence; and thirty-two private houses for staff. The 4.2-ha site was one of very few available locations in the area of appropriate size and is organised into zones, with the most private areas pushed towards the south. As part of the landscaping of the complex, four massive mature Banyan trees – a species which features on the Indonesian coat of arms and represents the partnership between the two countries – were relocated to ornament the area surrounding the entrance to the Chancery.

Taking the ‘centre stage’, the Chancery in the northern-most zone is the area that accommodates the fourteen government agencies. Although it appears to feature twelve individual towers, in reality this is a singular building, linked internally to form a ring around a central courtyard. The deception creates an external aesthetic which is reminiscent of a cityscape. The materiality of the cladding is its key feature: ‘Each of the towers is clad in a different metal,’ says the architect. ‘Zinc, copper, steel and aluminium – in clear and gold – are used as they are metals which are mined in Australia, thus reflect the country’s natural resources and mineral wealth.’ Metal façade specialist Zahner, an American engineering and fabrication company, is responsible for manufacturing the 70 000 panels required to cover the elevations of the five-storey towers.

In the shadow of the powerful, metallic mass of the Chancery, the other two components are slightly underwhelming by comparison. The executive residence in the heart of the complex is the home of the governing body’s Head of Mission and is orientated perpendicular to its neighbours. Despite being built up from an assembly of cuboid volumes – like a small stack of Duplo blocks – the formation is simple and neat. A reflective pool centres the composition.

At the south of the site sit two parallel rows of sixteen houses, which provide staff accommodation. Styled like townhouse terraces, the apartments share a vibrant, communal green space. The front elevations of the houses are systematically aligned, with some set back and others protruding outwards. Green roofs help with rainwater retention which is harvested for use throughout the site.

Photos John Gollings