At the end of WW-II, in August 17, 1945, Indonesia proclaimed her independence. This proclamation was not followed by a smooth hand-over of administration. Conflicts with the Dutch provincial government had direct consequences in architecture. First, with the diminishing numbers of Dutch architects, few Indonesian architects were available to take their place. Second, a shortage of building materials contributed to minimal architectural production. Third, the staff of the former Dutch department of public works was asked to take over the duties of Dutch architects. Fourth, construction companies were commissioned by the client to act as architect, which resulted in a very conservative architecture in those years. University graduates in civil engineering were also commissioned to do architectural works, but their number was quite small. Among them was Soekarno, the first President of Indonesia. The designer of a mosque in Bengkulu, he has been an important critic of building in Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia. His political views, including the politics of architecture, is openly nationalistic, are clearly stated in his speeches and addresses, for example: "Let us prove that we can also build the country like the Europeans and Americans do because we are equal." Ref.3 A clover leaf highway, four high rise hotels, and a broad by-pass in Jakarta, are among those projects that were approved by Soekarno to demonstrate the capability of Indonesia.
Western-style projects were purposefully built not so much as a conscious westernization, but rather to prove that modern Indonesia can do the same things the west can do. The Building for the House of Representatives, designed by Suyudi (an Indonesian who is a graduate of a German university) has a very large twin shell roof, reminiscent of Saarinen's TWA airport, and must be viewed as the utmost demonstration of this Indonesian capability. The structural engineer was also Indonesian (the late ir.Soetami). One other architect that Soekarno praised was Frederich Silaban, a former officer of the Netherlands-Indie Department of Public Works. His experience in this office is reflected in his statement: "What is Indonesian architecture? It is an architecture that emerged from utmost tropical climatic utilization. It is not a copy and imitation of indigenous form, so that we may mark our modernity."Ref.4 His Istiqlal State Mosque (the largest in South East Asia in the 1970s), and the head office of the Bank Indonesia, (Fig. 10) are the clearest demonstrations of his concepts. Not surprisingly, Le Corbusier's and Niemeyer's play of brise-soleil are distinguishing characteristics of Silaban's works.
|Fig. 10: Bank Indonesia Building, Jakarta|