Laretna T. Adishakti
Indonesia, Born 1958
“Heritage conservation is an integral part of my life,” says Laretna Adishakti. “My spirit is there.” For the much respected Indonesian architect, heritage is any cultural tradition that is a legacy of our collective past and reflects our living environment, including art and culture, oral tradition, flora and fauna, artefacts, buildings and monuments — the entire “cultural landscape”.
Adishakti, popularly known as Sita, was born into a family of conservationists who stimulated her interest in Indonesia’s traditions and inspired her studies: she received an engineering degree from Gadjah Mada University in her native Yogyakarta (1982), a master’s in architecture from the University of Wisconsin (USA, 1988) and a doctorate in engineering from Japan’s Kyoto University (1997).
Employed as a lecturer in several disciplines at Gadjah Mada University since 1983, Adishakti has, in her words, “spread as many heritage ‘viruses’ as possible” to encourage Indonesians to conserve their rich heritage. As head of the country’s leading heritage conservation organizations, she is spearheading a campaign to protect the city of Yogyakarta, the cultural heart of Java; restoring the endangered Tamansari Water Castle, once a sacred site for a sultan and his entourage; and studying the cultural landscape of Borobudur Temple and its environment to ensure its proper heritage management. Adishakti’s influence also extends internationally through her lectures and as a member of UNESCO-ICCROM’s Asian Academy for Heritage Management and of the International Council on Monuments and Sites.
Complementing her architecture and heritage projects, Adishakti is a devotee of the arts, including Indonesian flower arranging.
Published in 2006