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Long, strange trip for one old building

PostBy:AMEIJIA        PostDate:2010-08-18

From the country house of a Dutch governor general to an orphanage and then to a mere office building to later an archive building, the National Archive Building is struggling to retain its value as one of the nation's heritage buildings.
As has happened to many historical sites in Jakarta, the building has been lost to new development, particularly to high-rise buildings.
Traveling along the busy Jl. Gajah Mada toward the Kota area, we can see the beautiful building to the left. The building, along with other buildings, earned the title of Batavia, or "Queen of the East".
The house was built in 1760 by Reinier de Klerk, a member of the Dutch highest council, Raad van Indie, or the Council of the Indies. Reinier was later appointed as Dutch governor general in 1777. He lived and held office here until he died in 1780.
Many houses in the area at that time were called buitenverblijven, or "house outside", because they were built on a rural area outside the old city of Batavia.
Built as the house of a high rank citizen during colonial time, the house occupied an enormous plot of land extending much further than the current 9,450-square-meter complex.
The structure comprises of a main building, two separated pavilions on the left and right sides and a U-shaped annex building at the back of the main building.
Themain house is a model of closed Dutch style, so called because it has no open gallery at the front or rear.
"Asan 18th century building, it doesn't have any veranda surrounding it," National Archive Building Foundation director Tamalia Alisjahbana told The Jakarta Post recently.
"If you look at a 19th century building, for example Museum 45 or Gedong Juang, they have big verandas, open doors and windows."
Tamalia said that gradual change in the style of architecture of houses in Batavia was because of the attempt to adapt to the climate and the increasing control of the Dutch against the local rulers.
Batavia was just a small city back then. Around the city was a big city wall surrounded by a moat. This wall and moat is a defense against Banten in the west and Mataram in the east.


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