Tariq Khalil


The Years of Building Dangerously

Retronesia: The Years of Building Dangerously is the first must-have guide to Indonesia’s most creative architectural period. 

In the 1950s and 1960s, professional architects were a rarity in Indonesia, but the talent pool was overflowing with adventurers. At a time when retro style revival has never been more popular, Retronesia cuts through cultural amnesia to celebrate virtually unknown treasures of mid-century Modernism across the archipelago.

This style atlas systematically examines the cultural and political forces shaping design during 1950s to mid-1960s Indonesia – providing readers with over 50 curated destinations. Retronesia has crafted oral histories into bite sized biographies to provide compelling accounts of public life and ambition. Meticulously photographed surviving examples give insight into the worlds of work, rest, and play, from classic public housing, futurist state institutions, once-luxurious townhouses and villas, to the faded glamour of volcanic hill station retreats.

Retronesia is a travel guide to Indonesia like no other.

The Author

Tariq Khalil

“Tariq is an enigma who has led a double life…Slim and handsome with dark Indian features, his strong Scottish accent came out of nowhere and hit me like a truck.” Daniel Ziv

Tariq Khalil lives and works in Indonesia. His photography has always related to buildings and their histories. Over a period of two years, he traced and linked the old and new homes of his family on either side of the India–Pakistan border. ‘Places were Home’ was exhibited as a solo show at Asia House London in 2007 then as a group show with ‘Lines of Control’, which travelled across the UK, Dubai, and Karachi.

Retronesia has been featured in Kompas, Indonesia’s national daily newspaper, Indonesia’s national weekly Tempo Magazine, BBC Indonesia, the Indonesian Observer, Vice News, the Sydney Morning Herald, and New Mandala. Tariq is also an occasional columnist for Brava magazine, writing about all things retro.


Like biting into a durian: Indonesia’s weird architecture of the ’50s and ’60s.

– The Sydney Morning Herald


Khalil’s book Retronesia: The Years of Building Dangerously provides a sort of time travel to the early years of post-independence Indonesia, where everything, including buildings, seemed to have boundless possibilities.

– Vice News


Tariq Khalil explores…architectural design that is unique, odd, freewheeling and unregulated.

– Tempo


This book is unique because when we read it we understand the world of architecture, anthropology, archeology and history all at once…

– Kompas


A sophisticated architectural “coffee table book” that works more like a snapshot of a larger project to write a social history of an architectural style of Indonesia.

– New Mandala


October 26, 2018

After Dark/Festival Club • Ubud, Bali

If these walls could talk! ’50s futurism, tropical art deco, Indo-European Indische: Indonesia is home to a little-known trove of architectural treasures. Join unlikely explorer and retro enthusiast Tariq Khalil for an illustrated odyssey across the archipelago with mid-century style as your guide.

October 25, 2018

Pecha Kucha • Ubud, Bali

Global performance phenomenon Pecha Kucha – now in more than 900 cities – sees Festival artists present 20 images for 20 seconds each. Tariq Khalil takes the audience on the ultimate retro exploration of Indonesia.