C20 Surabaya

Surabaya is a hot city. It was 41 degrees when we arrived, but we were welcomed into the very ‘cool’ library and event space called C20. The name comes from the the street they are located—Dr. Cipto—and until recently they were at number 20. Now they are next door at number 22. But still, the idea of carbon dioxide remains pertinent in this 2nd largest city in Indonesia.

The layout of C20 was beautiful designed by a local architect, and the atmosphere is studious but friendly. I am met by Andriew and Anitha. And although Anitha has lost her voice (due to a throat virus) she still has plenty to say in clear whispers about their program and their history.

C20 started life in 2008 and brought together a loose band of interested and competent artists who wanted to see the public gathering space for conversation and knowledge expand. Public space is a complicated noun in Surabaya, likewise in the rest of Indonesia. Notwithstanding the particular traditional kampung spaces, urban private spaces are kind of left to bleed into interesting quasi public spaces.

C20 refers to itself as a collaborative lab space for study interaction and creativity. Their self described mission is to facilitate new forms of knowledge, innovation and new possibilities, based on critical thinking, openness, and resourcefulness. Based on a shared ecosystem of ideas, data, and a shared collection of books, films, and media, they are interested in building a local network that is connected to the national and international networks.

The C20 library collection of 5, 500 texts is supplemented with donations and many texts which are acquired from Singapore and Australia. They also conduct events on an open call basis as well as their own program of activities which includes an annual design festival Design it Yourself, a series of walking tours called Manic Street Walkers, and a comprehensive online publication Ayorek which draws on existing content and creates new content about culture and the city. In addition to this they also rent their space out for events and workshops.

Looking forward to collaborating with this excellent collective in the future!


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