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The Brief History of Indonesian Architecture

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Architecture in Indonesia is influenced by cultural diversity, history, and geography in Indonesia. In addition, the colonizers and traders of the past brought about a cultural change that strongly adheres to the style and techniques of building construction. The most intense foreign influence of classical architecture is India, although Chinese and Arab influences are also important. Then the influence of Europe on the art of architecture began to enter since the 18th century and 19th. The following is the brief explanation of the history of Indonesian architecture.


The Period of Classical Architecture Indonesia

In classical architectures of Indonesia, it was actually booming before Buddhist and Hindus kingdom era. However, some architecture work at that time had been amazing and had a great quality in art. Here is the full description about the classical architecture in Indonesia.

  1. Characteristic

Characteristic of classical architecture of Indonesia can be seen from the building of temple with the tower structure. Buddhist and Hindu temples are built of stone, built on the ground with the characteristics of pyramids and decorated with reliefs. Symbolically, the building was as a representation of the legendary Mount Meru, which in Hindu-Buddhist mythology is identified as the abode of the gods.

  1. The work of classical architecture

The famous Buddhist Temple of Borobudur from the 9th century and Prambanan Temple for Hindus in Central Java is also filled with the idea of ​​a macrocosm that is represented by a mountain. In East Asia, although influenced by Indian culture, the Indonesian architecture (archipelago) is more appealing to the elements of local society, and more precisely to the peasant culture.

  1. The booming time of classical architecture

Hindu culture of at least 10 centuries has influenced Indonesian culture before the influence of Islam came. The legacy of classical architecture (Hindu-Buddhism) in Indonesia is very limited to several dozens of temples except the island of Bali is still a lot because of the religious factor of the local population.

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Vernacular architecture in Indonesia

In classical vernacular architecture of Indonesia, itbegan famous while Buddhist and Hindus kingdom era. However, some architecture work at that time had been amazing and had a great quality in art. Here is the full description about the vernacular architecture in Indonesia.

  1. Characteristic

The traditional and vernacular architecture in Indonesia comes from two sources. The first is from large Hindu tradition brought to Indonesia from India via Java. The second is native indigenous architecture. Vernacular houses mostly found in rural areas are built using natural materials such as reed roofs, bamboo, woven bamboo, coconut wood, and stone. The building is a perfect fit with the environment. Houses in the interior of Indonesia are still many who use bamboo, but with the process of modernization, bamboo buildings are little by little replaced with a brick wall building.

This vernacular architecture grows and comes from the people of a region, which is also the identity of each region. Because, the reflected style of the building depicts the traditions of the area. Indonesia is a country rich in ethnicity, so it has various buildings with different vernacular architectural styles. Among these are the custom house Tana Toraja, Rumah Joglo, Rumah Gadang and so on.

  1. The examples of the building of vernacular architecture

The oldest vernacular building in Indonesia today is no more than 150 years old. But from the reliefs on the walls of the 9th century at Borobudur temple in Central Java revealed that there is a close relationship with the contemporary vernacular house architecture that exists today.

The vernacular architecture of Indonesia is also similar to that found throughout the islands of Southeast Asia. Its main characteristic is the use of elevated floors (except in Java), high-sloped roofs resembling saddles and the use of materials from wood and other durable organic materials.

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The influence of Islam for Indonesian architecture

Islamic culture in Indonesia began in 13 AD when in northern Sumatra emerged Pasai Islamic empire in 1292. Two and a half centuries later together with the Europeans, Islam came to Java. Islam does not spread to the Indonesian territory by political power such as in India or Turkey but rather through the spread of culture. Islamic culture in Indonesian architecture can be found in mosques, palaces, and tomb buildings.

The decline of Majapahit Hindu kingdom power in Java marked the changing period of history in Java. The Majapahit culture left its greatness with a series of monumental temples until the fourteenth century. However, this does not mean that the “Classical Age” in Java was subsequently replaced by the “barbaric” and not the beginning of the “Dark Ages”.

Furthermore the Islamic kingdoms continue the old culture of Majapahit which they adopted in a genius. The “New Era” subsequently produced important icons such as the mosques in Demak, Kudus and Banten in the sixteenth century. It is also proven with Imogiri’s grave sites and the palaces of Yogyakarta and Surakarta in the eighteenth century.

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The style of Dutch Colonial Architecture

The colonial buildings in Indonesia, especially the long Dutch period 1602 – 1945, it is very interesting to explore how the cultural cross between west and east in the form of buildings, as well as how the Dutch developed the acclimatization of buildings in the tropics. Dutch colonial architecture in Indonesia is a unique cultural phenomenon that has never been found elsewhere even in Netherland. These buildings are the result of a mixture of colonial and cultural cultures in Indonesia. Here is the detail of the description Dutch style architecture.

  1. Characteristics

The difference between Western and Indonesian concept into architecture is the correlation between the building and the human. Western architecture is a totality of construction. Meanwhile, the East is more subjective, preferring the outer appearance especially the front façade. The natural conditions between sub-tropical Dutch and wet tropical Indonesia are also a major consideration of Dutch buildings in Indonesia.

In fact, the Dutch did not immediately find the right form for their building at the beginning of its development in Indonesia. During the early European colonization of the early 18th century, this type of four seasons building directly grafted the Dutch into the tropical climate of Indonesia. A flat facade with no verandas, large windows, a small vented roof commonly seen in the oldest part of the walled city of the Netherlands, is also used as in old Batavia.

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  1. The examples of building model in Dutch colonialism era.

Dutch architects have a good approach to the nature in which the buildings are located. Their consciousness can be seen from the construction elements of people who are very aware of nature. Karsten in 1936 reported in the article: “Semarangse kantoorgebouwen” or Two Office Building in Semarang Central Java:

On all first and second floors, there are wide doors, windows and vents between them spanning two columns. Room for each floor is very high; 5, 25 m on the first floor and 5 m for the second floor. The higher rooms, windows and ventilation become a good system to allow air circulation on the roof. There are ventilation holes in the upper wall (above the window). Besides the higher space width, open corridors on the West and East sides include the main room of direct sunlight.

When early urbanization took place in Batavia (Jakarta), there were so many people building luxury villas around the city. Its classic architectural style but adaptable to nature is characterized by many ventilation, open windows and corridors widely used as a shield from direct sunlight. In Bandung, Villa Isolla is one example of this fine architecture.

Those are the long story of the architecture in Indonesia. It might be influenced by many countries that have visited Indonesia. However, Indonesian architecture is still fabulous with them all.

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