The island of Batam is part of the Riau Islands in Indonesia, on the other side of the Singapore Strait. Batam was listed as the fastest growing city in the world in 2015, with its proximity to Singapore being a major advantage.
Despite this mind-blowing statistic, Batam is not the sort of place you read about on a regular basis. In Indonesian media, the main news has been about the airport expansion and a new bridge from Batam to Bintan (the main tourist island of the Riau Islands).
This is why I like to visit for myself and see what it is like on the ground. I visited Batam in August 2022, and this article shows the progress of some of the big projects under construction.
This map shows the places mentioned in this article. A full list of projects can be viewed at Future Batam.
[Map of Batam construction projects.]
Batam Construction Projects
Batam is so haphazardly planned that there isn’t a place that feels like the city centre. Even though there is a “Batam Center”, it is Nagoya that most resembles the centre of Batam.
Nagoya (no relation to Nagoya) has more shops and places to stay, and it is where one of the biggest developments on the island is happening.
CitraPlaza Nagoya is a Mega Superblock (as opposed to other projects here that are labeled as Superblocks) that is taking up several blocks of prime real estate.
There are 9 towers planned in total, with the tallest expected to be 60 floors high. There is one tower that is almost finished, providing a new landmark for the Nagoya area.
Another tower is under construction next to the first one.
Next to the tower under construction is the sales office.
The sales office is next to Nagoya Citywalk, which is a plaza and mall that forms part of the complex.
There is a model of CitraPlaza Nagoya inside Nagoya Citywalk.
The roads are so jumbled here that I had a hard time finding my bearings, but I was able to work out where I was from the domed building on the model.
The dome is a kids’ entertainment complex called Fun World.
Some blocks haven’t been fully cleared yet, leaving behind remnants of what used to be here.
Pollux Habibie Meisterstadt
Pollux Habibie Meisterstadt is another “mega-superblock” with multiple towers on one block of land. There are 10 buildings of similar size and design and one signature tower with a planned height of 100 floors.
Meisterstadt is in Batam Center, and the first four buildings in the front row have been completed. Meisterstadt is on a hill, so it stands from a distance. I first saw this when arriving by ferry at the Batam Center ferry terminal.
I got a taxi back to the ferry terminal on another day so I could see if I could walk to Meisterstadt. Batam Center is a hard place to walk around, so it doesn’t surprise me that Nagoya is a preferred area. Batam wants to be the new Singapore, but they are making the same urban planning mistakes as new America.
I arrived at Meisterstadt to see a gated entrance into the shophouse street in front of the towers. I have written before about building better new cities in Southeast Asia, and one of my pet peeves is these developments that are separated from the city street grid. Developments that build multiple identical towers also a bad design practice in my view.
Behind the completed towers is a greenfield area that is reserved for the next two rows of towers and the signature tower.
Behind the Pollux Habibie Meisterstadt project is the Venisian Mall project. I saw some advertising for this with Venetion gondolas in an outside setting, which explains why it is also called Venisian Open Air Mall.
Nagoya Hill Condominium
When I visit cities for construction reports I always take photos of advertisements for new apartment projects. Sometimes it is how I find out what is being built, and it is also interesting to see which project is doing the most advertising. Nagoya Hill Condominium was one of the projects that was advertising prominently.
Nagoya Hill Condominium is next to the Nagoya Hill Mall, and as the name suggests, it is on a hill in Nagoya. They have carved out a chunk of the hill to fit this condo project on the hill.
Nagoya Thamrin City
Nagoya Thamrin City is a superblock composed of apartments, hotels, office spaces, and shophouses. I could see Nagoya Thamrin City from the Nagoya Hill Mall, but I couldn’t work out how to walk there (without looking at Google Maps). The Nagoya Hill Condominium is between the mall and Nagoya Thamrin City, so I figured I will reserve judgement on walking there until the construction mess of the condo project is cleaned up.
I walked round to the other side of the hill to find the main entrance to the Nagoya Thamrin City complex. It was disappointing to see what looked like a new road without footpaths.
I was there just a few days after Aston Hotel opened, so I went up and had a look around.
favehotel Nagoya (stylised in lower case. making my spell checker angry at me) is another hotel in this complex, and it is surrounded by shophouses.
Imagine having a blank slate to build a new urban area, and you don’t include footpaths. This row of shophouses has a little bit of footpath in front of the shops, but it was easier to just walk on the road with the cars. And not only did they not give enough space for pedestrians, but where are the trees?
That was my Batam trip for 2022. I didn’t make to Bintan on this trip, so if I ever go there I might do an update on how Batam is progressing.
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