Garuda Magazine, October 1994

The Wijaya Touch

At his home in Bali's beach resort town of Sanur,
Wijaya has created a jungle-style garden, complete with pools and ponds, a temple, stone carvings and elaborate paving.

Amandari Hotel

Listening to Made Wijaya talk about gardens is like hearing the tinkle of moonlight in a Debussy composition. So sublime is the feeling, and so palpable the presence of the feeling, and so palpable the presence of the tropics, that one is lost in the theatre of his enterprise.

Creator of some of finest gardens in Indonesia, Wijaya is now influencing gardens as far a field as Singapore, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Australia. Some of the most alluring gardens in Bali and Jakarta – like the gardens in the Batujimbar complex, the La Taverna Hotel at Sanur, the Australian embassy in Jakarta and the Bali Oberoi –owe their beauty to his sensitive touch.

When Wijaya jumped ship and swam ashore in Bali 20 years ago, he arrived as Michael White, a name he has long since abandoned. Making Bali his home, he worked as a tennis coach, masseur, architect and lecturer, along the way writing the Encyclopaedia of Balinese Architecture. He also contributed a regular column, entitled Stranger in Paradise, to the island’s first English-language daily newspaper. During this time, he also became the island’s only all-mate, one-man Scottish legong dancer.

Villa Bebek, Sanur

Having become completely engrossed in the island’s culture and traditions, Wijaya was asked to landscape the gardens of the Bali Oberoi, a hotel designed by his architect friend Peter Muller. It was his first big landscaping job. He was smitten, realizing he had found his natural calling. Wijaya turned the Oberoi’s already famed gardens into a fairytale landscape, full of touches that were to become his trademark. In later years. The gardens he made were secret places, full of generous nooks and mysterious crannies; places where the unexpected is always just around the corner. Richly textured, with acute attention to lighting, sculptures and pavilions abound, all completely at home in this carefully careless atmosphere.

Wijaya became more audacious in his designs and themes. Mixing and matching various types of materials for pathways and walls, and incorporating water features, he transformed many properties with his instinctive attraction to the seductive and sublime. His latest masterpiece is the Four Seasons Resort, in Bali’s dry Bukit area. Flowing and free best describes this natural landscape that is reminiscent of Bali’s classical villages. Its naturalness is enhanced by a careful choice of plants native to the area.

Villa Bebek, Sanur

Part of Wijaya’s triumph is based on the fact that he regards nature with the utmost reverence. For a garden to be successful, it must harmonize drama, poetry, theme, composition, plants appropriate to climate and soil conditions and lighting. “A landscaper is part midwife, part botanist, part sculptor and part architect, “he says.” This is particularly true in the case of tropical gardens, which are violently kinetic by nature.”

Wijaya and his Balinese family live at Villa Bebek, a Wijaya-designed garden compound at Sanur. It is an-other tribute to his mastery. Its pools and ponds, Balinese temple, crazy paving and stone carvings astonish and thrill at the same time. Wijaya is now concentrating on taking his distinct brand of “Balinese flavour” to the world.-DR

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PT. Wijaya Tribwana International
Jln. Pengembak No.9B Mertasari, Sanur 80228, Bali - Indonesia. Ph: (62-361) 287668, Fax: (62-361) 286731

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