Alam Sutera commits Rp 450 billion for GWK statue

by I Wayan Juniarta on 2013-08-23

The giant property developer PT Alam Sutera Realty (ASR) has committed to provide up to Rp 450 billion (US$41.67 million) in fresh money to continue the construction of Garuda Wisnu Kencana (GWK), Indonesia’s tallest statue and a new cultural icon for Bali.

The commitment ended a 16-years hiatus that saw the development of the statue and its surrounding cultural park paralyzed by a regime change, a nationwide financial crisis, as well as an internal turf war involving an influential figure inside the managing company and foundation tasked with overseeing the project.

During that difficult period, Nyoman Nuarta, the Bali-born Bandung-based sculptor who initiated the project, had strived adamantly to continue the construction of the statue, directing most of his personal resources and funds to the project. The 20-meter tall bust of Wisnu, the head part of the mythical bird Garuda, and several other minor parts that have been installed on site at the GWK Cultural Park in Ungasan, are concrete evidence of Nuarta’s persistence.

“PT Alam Sutera Realty will provide the funds required to finish the construction of the statue. Rp 300 billion will be allocated for the statue, while the remaining Rp 150 billion will be used to improve infrastructure in the 60-hectare site of GWK cultural park, including beautification of the parks, installing high-powered lamps to enable visitors to enjoy the spectacle at nighttime, and other things,” Harjanto Tirtohadiguno, the founder of ASR, also tapped to head the GWK managing company PT Garuda Adhimatra Indonesia (GAIN), said in a press conference on Thursday.

The media gathering was attended by Nyoman Nuarta, former tourism and culture minister, Gde Ardika, and cultural expert Jean Couteau. It was held to announce the groundbreaking ceremony for the statue is slated for Friday afternoon.

In its final form, the GWK statue will be 75 meters (m) tall with a wingspan of 64m. The statue will stand on a lofty pedestal that will bring the total height of the monument to 126m, some 30m taller than the Statue of Liberty in the US. The outer skin of the statue measures 22,000 square meters and its volume is eleven times that of the Statue of Liberty.

Harjanto admitted that it was the publicly-listed property company’s first venture into building a gigantic monument.

ASR rose to prominence in the mid-1990s after successfully acquiring a 900-hectare plot of land in Tangerang, Banten, and transforming it into a mixed-use integrated site comprising residential and commercial complexes.

“But I believe in the ideals and objectives that Pak Nuarta is trying to achieve through this cultural monument. Moreover, I also believe that this project, this site, and this island possess great economic potential. It is my job to balance the idealistic side of this project and its economic side,” he declared.

It was that belief, he pointed out, that underlined both the companies’ policy to put the completion of the GWK statue as the top priority. He revealed that the plan had been drawn for the establishment of an integrated tourism complex in certain parts of the GWK cultural park, but it would be pursued once the GWK statue had reached its completion.

“Moreover, we are fully aware that the high-density approach with its high-rise buildings, the kind of approach we utilize in Jakarta, will not work here. We will build a very different thing here, and, most importantly, we will do that by following the guidance of the Balinese traditional culture, norms and values.”

Gde Ardika, who currently serves as the chairman of Yayasan Garuda Wisnu Kencana, a foundation tasked with overseeing and developing the cultural content of the park, assured that any future development in the site would not pose a threat to the local culture.

“In fact, the foundation has drawn basic guidelines, as well as dividing the site into areas for specific purposes, in accordance with traditional Balinese principles, and the managing company has agreed to abide by those guidelines,” he said.

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