MA Studies > Interior design > Interior design alumnus > Addiena Irzan

Addiena Irzan

Bali in Globalized Tourism: A Misspelled?

This essay focuses on tourism as a globalized biggest industry in the world and how it is creating problems, which need to be solved by a spatial design solution, specifically in Bali. Tourism and globalization are the terms that cannot be separated. Throughout the world, together they are joining forces to create more and more problems, particularly in developing countries. Yet calling it responsible for creating problems perhaps would generate a skeptical view on tourism. As it is the biggest industry in the world, which generates modernization, creating millions of jobs worldwide, and have a great contribution for the economic growth of a country and/or a region. These positive impacts considered not equal to the problems that can be simplified as a process of destruction. Problems that is bigger than its positive impacts. Tourism deteriorates physical environment, it contributes to the erosion of distinct beliefs and values or can be said as a producer of globalized forms of culture, and it is also an insecure foundation on which to build an economical growth in a nation.1 Looking at these problems, it is hard to not be skeptical. But we must keep in mind that every problem has a solution, especially in this case, through spatial design. As in this era of globalized tourism, spaces are being created by the process of taking more and giving less. It is the question of creating more and giving more that need to be answered in spatial design for tourism, in this case to Bali.


Tourism has been the foundation of growth to Bali since the time it was ‘discovered’ in the colonial days. Currently, the effect to almost every aspect it brings has made Bali the victim of its own success. What is happening now is there is no Bali in glo-bali-zed tourism the world has created, Bali has become a misspelled in the term. The global is slowly erasing the local physically, socially and economically.


Initially, it is best to analyze what has been the cause of the intense and hyper development that is happening worldwide as an inevitable effect of tourism. What can be the trigger of tourism as it is today? Globalization is the best answer to this question. Globalization that happens specifically in developing countries can be seen as a new form of colonialism. Arif Dirlik suggests this view in his essay: “Architecture of Global Modernity, Colonialism and Places.”2 Dirlik discusses the issue of the colonial in architecture, first of the time before the World War II, and now, under the regime of globalization.3 He focused on Shanghai, of how it is now becoming the perfect location for the long process of globalization. Further, Dirlik gave a perfect example of Shanghai’s symbol of history and identity, an area called the Bund, is being build extensively due to make way of this new form of colonialism:


“And indeed, the buildings of the Bund, symbols of Shanghai history and identity supposedly protected by historic preservation laws, are in the process of being converted into business and entertainment centers in keeping with the aspirations to globality and the voracious appetites of foreign entrepreneurs who have descended upon Shanghai as the new location for hyperdevelopment.”4


Dirlik introduced a concept of the relationship between nationalism and globalization parallels that between nationalism and colonialism. Colonialism generated nationalism. Nationalism, on the other hand, has been a colonizing activity itself, in erasing local differences in order to create a homogenous national culture. It also served as an agent of modernization: played a central part in the formation of globalization, as it brings the local onto the global it also brings the global into everyday life everywhere. Yet, globalization is also about colonialism, if we understand the terms as taking space away from those who make various uses of it and putting it in the service of non-local conceptions and goals of spatial utility.5


In conclusion of his essay, Dirlik suggested that spatial design today should affirm life and livelihood against the abstractions of a placeless architecture driven by the fetishism of development. The problem with the architecture of globalization ultimately is that it is a negation of the social as such. It may make sense under contemporary imbalances of power to let globalization have it spaces and to rebuild architectures of sociability in locations that have not completely lost memories of the social.6


I agree with Dirlik’s view on colonialism and globalization. Whereas in Bali, the foreign that represents the global seems to be taking over everything in the livelihood of the domestic, which represents the Balinese locals. Physically it deteriorates the environment: over development causing coastline erosion, disappearing agricultural land, water shortage, lack of infrastructure, also pollution and waste problems. Socially it causes erosion of its distinct values: the locals feel alienated. Economically it also causes problems, because the prosperity generated by tourism doesn’t really contribute to the locals and as land value skyrocketed, the locals became materialistic, their land is increasingly sold to foreigners and investors. The question now is: what other aspect of spatial design to be approached apart from paying attention to these aspects? The concept behind its generic form that is been structured throughout the world can be a good place to start for answering this question.


George Ritzer in his essay: “Can Globalized Commercial Architecture be Anything but Highly McDonaldized?”,7introduced two concepts that lies beneath the generic form of globalized architecture which are the “McDonaldization” and “nothing”. Both concepts are responsible for the vast majority of commercial architecture, e.g. superstores, shopping malls, franchises; they are generic, repeated endlessly in more or less the same form. And this process of globalization is more associated with the generic than the unique.8


McDonald’s products and services are used as a metaphor in the elements that forms this concept. McDonaldization comprised of 4 elements: efficiency, calculability, predictability, and irrationalities of rationality. Efficiency by means that architecture is being created by end product oriented manner through efficiency of the process.Calculability is an emphasis on quantity rather than quality. Predictabilityinvolves the production and consumption of essentially the same products or services from one time or place to another. Irrationalities of rationality spawned by McDonaldization are dehumanization, the mass-produced design of large commercial architecture firms that is alienating.9The “nothing” is another concept Reitzer presented in the spatial design, that is more associated to the loss of “something” which he believes as a loss within monumental richness. In conclusion Ritzer implied that there are reasons to welcome these concepts but also there are reasons to fear of drowning in these concepts.10


Conclusively, to reflect on these concepts of globalization and to what extent we can use it in spatial design as a solution, will eventually be the necessity for the future of Bali. In the end, to truly bring back Bali in globalized tourism.






1   “Tourism Geography” by Stephen Williams, Routledge, London, 1998

2  “Architecture of Global Modernity, Colonialism and Places” is an essay by Arif Dirlik in “The Domestic and The Foreign in Architecture” edited by Sang Lee and Ruth Baumeister, 010 Publisher, Rotterdam, 2007 

3  ibid., pg. 37

4  ibid., pg. 43

5  ibid., pg. 44

6  ibid., pg. 46

7  “Can Globalized Commercial Architecture be Anything but Highly McDonaldized?” is an essay by George Ritzer in “The Domestic and The Foreign in Architecture” edited by Sang Lee and Ruth Baumeister, 010 Publisher, Rotterdam, 2007

8  ibid., pg. 123

9  ibid., pg. 123-124

10  ibid., pg. 145