During our last Sunday afternoon in Bandung, we spend time, after seeing the Car-Free City, driving around. After reading about the work of the Dutch architect C.P. Wolff Schoemaker in the publication Tropical Modernity, it was time for MovingCities to see his work first-hand.
As we’re just now starting to explore the intermingling of the Indonesian colonial city and the current wave of urbanization that is changing the image of the Indonesian city, it is interesting to refer back to some of the debates that happened in the architectural circles in the 1920-30s Dutch East Indies. From the aforementioned publication we picked up following analysis:
The two opposing parties in the debate on architecture each had its own vision of the Indo-European architectural style that was to be developed. The party with a European orientation wanted an architecture that was based on modern European architecture but that nevertheless closely matched the tropical environment and ‘an East Indian expression full of character.’ Wolff Schoemaker was the main proponent of this view. The other party wanted an architecture rooted in the architectural history of the Indonesian archipelago, though enhanced with the technical advances of Western architecture.
Our drive took us along The Groote Postweg (Great Post Road), today the Asia Afrika Street, which was built in the early 19th century 11 miles north of the then capital of Bandung. The change of streetname was due to the the first Asian-African Conference in 1955 – also known as the Bandung Conference – which was held in Bandung by President Soekarno, a conference that was attended by head of states representing twenty-nine countries and colonies from Asia and Africa. Today, this road is still the spine of the city and in the heart of that spine lay two art-deco style hotels hotels at either sides of the road. One is the The Preanger Hotel (architect: Wolff Schoemaker, 1927) and the other is the Savoy Homann (architect: Albert Aalbers, 1939).