Romo Mangun architecture

Catholic priest Yusef Bilyarta Mangunwijaya (Romo Mangun; 1929-1999) was an award-winning Indonesian novelist, theologian, activist and architect. In 1992 he won a prestigious architecture award from Aga Khan, an international Islamic foundation, for his innovative redesign of a riverside slum area called Kali Code in Yogyakarta.

On an August trip to Indonesia, I had the opportunity to visit three of Father Mangun's sites—the Kali Code complex, a Marian Grotto in the hills above Borobudur that Mangun designed in 1969, and the architect's former home in northeast Yogyakarta.

Mangun believed construction budgets should be put into workers' wages, not expensive supplies. His designs are marked by a thoughtful mix of reclaimed and environmentally friendly materials. Small spaces are defined by changes in level. Judicious use of color knits everything together.