Community Discussion in Palu: Bottom-Up Approach for Public Space Construction

14, 26 July & 23 August 2021 | PALU – UCLG ASPAC, in collaboration with the local government of Palu, facilitated a three-day Focus Group Discussion (FGD) as a bottom-up approach for public space development in Huntap (permanent resident) in Balaroa, area severely hit by disaster back in 2018. It was also supported by the Architecture Department at the University of Tadulako (UNTAD) and the Indonesian Institute of Architects (IAI) in Central Sulawesi. Community participation is important in the revitalisation of post-disaster public spaces in Palu City to create opportunities for local economic development and enable greater participation in empowering citizens of all ages, gender, and social status.

#1 FGD – 14 July 2021
The agenda was to cultivate ideas and suggestions from the community. Representatives from vulnerable groups: children, youth, elderly, disabled, and women were present and shared their suggestions to be used as preliminary data for the basic design of public space. The discussion was also joined by the Head of Balaroa District, 15 community members, lecturers of the Architecture Department of UNTAD, and members of IAI Central Sulawesi.

Discussion on the first FGD resulted in suggestions on the development of Baruga (traditional building) as the main area with the second floor in traditional concept on the area of 245 m2. The first floor can function as a learning room, a centre of information about disaster mitigation, and a mini library with pictures of disaster in Balaroa, while the second floor can function as a space for discussion (polibu). Suggestions included a playing area, garden and productive plants, and culinary area in the public space, as well as material utilisation for the construction.

The UNTAD and IAI Team would visualise community ideas into a preliminary public space design to be presented in the second community meeting with the presence of local government divisions of Palu City and other stakeholders in Balaroa.

#2 FGD – 26 July 2021
The second community meeting and was attended by 24 participants from the Local Department of Spatial Planning and Land, Housing Service, Department of Housing and Residential Areas, Environmental Services, Ministry of Public Works and Housing, Settlement Infrastructure Implementation Working Unit, Sub-District Head of West Palu, Head of Balaroa District, and local people of Balaroa.

Upon presentation of material to be discussed in the second FGD and preliminary public space design, participants provided feedback as shown below:

Picture: the Second Community Meeting/ FGD 2, 26 July 2021.


  1. A memorial wall showing the synopsis of the event on 28 September 2018 and information on mitigation disasters to help the community learn about disasters, and disasters risk reduction;
  2. Suggestion to use environmentally friendly material for groundwater recharge and consider drainage and sanitation, and for the public space to provide a playground for kids and a breastfeeding area;
  3. Suggestion to apply 30% pavement, incorporate Public Space regulation in Palu, electrical installation, and access for disables;
  4. Suggestion to consider the access and size of the corridor from the memorial wall to selfie area as well as construction material, design of stairs must be kids-friendly;
  5. Suggestion to also consult Public Works Services, Department of Housing and Settlement Area, and experts regarding the regulation of public space construction, earthquake resistant structure, and development permit;
  6. Suggestion for the public space to provide evacuation routes and meeting points in the event of disasters or emergencies by considering the topography of Balaroa;
  7. Suggestion for the public space to use Balaroa trees as one of the vegetation on the site;
  8. Suggestion that the preliminary design to provide a canopy of trees and a natural green cover and the name of public space to have local characters.
  9. Construction to be carried out soon.

Upon discussion, UNTAD and IAI revised the preliminary design of public space at Balaroa to be used as presentation material to the Mayor of Palu City in the third of the community meeting.

#3 FGD – 23 August 2021
The third FGD was held in the virtual meeting also and facilitated by the Secretariat of Palu City and Regional Planning Agency. The event was attended by the Vice Mayor of Palu City, dr. Reny A. Lamadjido as well as various local government divisions/units, UNTAD, IAI, Head of Balaroa Village and the local community.


Picture: the third Community Meeting/ FGD 3, 23 August 2021.


On the presentation of the revised design, it was informed that the focus was on community needs to be developed into a land area of 245 m2.

Suggestions in the third community meeting included:

  1. Consider the need for green open space on Palu city-scale because there would be space conversion and kinds of vegetation on the public space;
  2. Public space construction still requires data and technical input;
  3. The suggestion that land on drainage site at Huntap Balaroa can be an additional green open space;
  4. Suggestion to consider the R3P documents (Rencana Rehabilitasi Rekonstruksi Pasca Bencana/post-disaster reconstruction rehabilitation plan) of Regional Disaster Management Agency of Palu City;
  5. Suggestion to engage the local community to also participate in managing private green open spaces in their homes;
  6. The community can do reforestation in Huntap Balaroa such as planning the vegetation.

 Public space construction in Palu is a solidarity action between Cités Unies France (CUF) and UCLG ASPAC. This project has started from 2018 and both parties agreed to prioritise local involvement and project success despite challenges.