The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Said Mahathir

Nationality: Indonesia
Thesis: The Impact of Religion Based Policy on Design and User Behaviour in Public Space; A Case Study of Major-Muslim Cities In Indonesia

Key Topics: Religion Based-Policy, Public Space, Design and Behaviour

I am an architect, urban designer, and instructor. I obtained a degree BA in architecture (2009) from the Islamic University of Indonesia (UII) and an MSc in urban planning (2013) from National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) Taiwan. At the moment, I am awarded a full Ph.D. scholarship from the Ministry of Religious Affairs of Indonesia (MORA) and to be able to engage with the DPU in which academia consists of various disciplines, researchers, and professionals from all around the world.

Living and growing up in the most populous Muslim country in the world, Indonesia, particularly Aceh the only province that implemented Sharia Law (Islamic law), as an architect and urban designer with 11 years of experience and 6 years as an instructor and researcher at Ar-Raniry Islamic State University in Indonesia, has developed my curiosity to conduct a research notion on Islamic urbanism in Indonesia. I have special interests in cultural-based policy and its urban development of Islamic cities with Indonesia as an object of study. It is evident that cultural diversity, as well as religious practices amongst a plethora of ethnicities and races within Indonesia society, are the fundamental reasons contributing to not only a formulation of cultural-based policy but also various interpretations by the users on ways of using and perceiving the public spaces (city square, downtown park, neighborhood park, etc.). Therefore, a better understanding of the policies and typology of public spaces in Indonesia based on socio-political, socio-cultural and economic diversities and its structure will define and shape the user experiences as well as accommodate the user needs in public spaces. It is essential in the development of urban areas to provide friendly architectural and urban design work regardless of the user's religion, ethnic, and nationality.

As Jane Jacobs (1961) said “Cities have capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody”. It recapitulated and amplified my curiosities in developing the Islamic concept of “Rahmatan Lil ‘Alamin” (a mercy to all creation) into the urban social and physical dimension of Islamic cities that are applicable not only for particular religious society but also for general public use. This is the gap where my study inserts with extensive Islamic urbanism knowledge in order to create a better society and urban development in the Muslim community amid the globalization stream. 

By scrutinizing the impact of religious and cultural-based policy toward those dimensions of its urban planning and urban design product, this study will enhance our understanding particularly for the involved stakeholder such as the citizen, architects, urban designers, urban planners, principles and researchers, and the government who have been playing role in the development of Muslim society. Such a study is essential to scale up the existence of cultural identity within the Islamic community not only to be preserved but also to be fit up in the development of the world's cultural acculturation.

In relation to my work as a lecturer and researcher, in particular, this study will contribute not only to expand the existing knowledge about Islamic architecture and urbanism but also to enrich research capacity, methodology, and analytical tool required to better understand the problem related to urban planning and design based on local characteristic and its influence on human behavior as well as a solution for Indonesian context. In addition, as an architect and urban designer who actively produces and practices my design in the community, I find it extremely important to upgrade my theoretical understanding of this particular design and planning. My experiences of dealing with stakeholders, ranging from community, local and central government, private sector, researcher, and activist reveal that demand for cultural-identity in every design is increasingly high. Therefore, a researcher and practitioner like me has to regularly enhance my expertise in order to meet the increasing need of society.

In relation to the hobby, I enjoy painting, solving puzzles, assembling model kits, and cycling in my spare time.

Primary supervisor: Prof. Haim Yacobi
Secondary Supervisor: Dr. Kamna Patel