I just finished reading a unique book, the title is “Ir. Frans Johan Louwrens Ghijsels: Architect in Indonesia (1910-1929)”, Seram Press, Published in association with Periplus Editions. Not many bookstores sell it in Jakarta. Rarely! I’m feeling lucky now.
The past time will be forgotten by people in the next future. They have forgotten all about their history. Here, I understood implied as Dutch said, ”…een veroanchtzaam aspect van de koloniale geschiedenis…” .
Yes, I did. Th
e Misery of colonial history: It was happened in Indonesia. People don’t know their origin history of this Jakarta city. This book also gave enlighten me. Aufklarung!
Where It all Begun
Ghijsels was born on 8 September 1882 in Tulung Agung, East Java. In 21 years old, he started to study architecture at the Polytechnic in Deft. He was awarded Bachelor’s Degree in 1907. Then, 3 years later, he completed his engineering study.
After finished his study, he worked at the bureau of G. van Arkel in Amsterdam until 22 July 1910, because he was appointed as engineer by Municipal Work Department, Batavia. Before went to Nederlandche Indies, He has married with Marries Elisabeth Johanna Antonia de Regt on 8 September 1910.
So, the year of 1910 was a starting point of Ghijels’ career. Why? Because since he touched down in Batavia, he has got personal and career development.
His first opportunity was starting to work on 1 November 1910 at The Municipal Work Department, managed by Ir. H. Biezeveld. Other business, He worked as an independent architect in Batavia.
The first project in Municipal Work Department was to design for rebuilding and extending the Hotel van Horck, Garut in 1912. Concerned about pavilions, dining room, and a recreation room.
In period of 1912-1929 many buildings were designed by Ghijsels in several big cities (Batavia, Chirebon, Bandong, Jogjakarta, Soerabaia, Makasar) in Nederlandsch Indies, included: office building, hospitals, churches, schools, utility works, shops and garages, hotels, recreation, urban development project, and residential districts and houses.
The Bureau AIA
Ghijsels and H. Von Essen, and the contractor F. Stolz found the AIA (Algemeen Ingenieurs en Architectenbureau) in 1916. Von Essen left the firm before 1921, where as Stolz left in 1921. The office established in Utrechstraat (Jl.Kopi-Batavia). Afterwards, many names joined the AIA such as HA Hes, FBH Asselbergs, and PJ Graaf. After 1919, the office address was in Roa Malakka No.29 (west bank of Batavia)
In 1927 AIA had a branch in Soerabaia and Jogjakarta. Then in 1932 AIA opened new branch in Bandong.
Family Consequences of 1927
On 1 June 1927, his wife and daughters sailed to Holland, left Netherlandsch Indies. They were never to return for the reason of child’s education and health. Ghijsels faced the consequences of the most difficult decision. His wife lived in Switzerland as like many European women, but his daughters went to Dutch boarding School in Montreux.
The Maestro Gallery: Art Deco
Let’s see the famous buildings in Batavia, which designed by Ghijsels (year in the parentheses represent construction period):
KPM Hospital Petamboeran (1914-15) –now RS PELNI
KPM Head Office (1917-18) -now Kantor Departemen Perhubungan Laut in Jl. Medan Merdeka Selatan
Office of John Peet & Co. (1920) -now PT Toshiba Jl. Kalibesar Barat
Office of Maintz & Co. (1920) -now PT Samudera
Indonesia Jl Kalibesar Barat
Roman Catholic Church H. Jozef (1923) –Gereja Katolik Jl. Matraman Raya No. 129, East Jakarta.
Office of Geo Wehry & Co (1926) –now “an empty premises” in Jl. Kunir No.2
Bataviaasch Niewsblad (1927) –demolished, Jl. Pintu Air
Lodge for Freemasons (1925) –now BAPPENAS Jl. Taman Suropati
Training College ”Vereeniging Associatie van Oost & West (1918) –Jl. Gunung Sahari
Boarding School: Jan Pieterz. Coentichting (1923-27) –Jl Sultan Agung, Menteng Pulo
School Complex for the Association of Christian Schools (1927) –now SMA Jl. Diponegoro
Station BEOS (1929) –did you know?
Hotel Des Indes (1930) –demolished, Duta Merlin
Club House for Roemer Visscher Society (1928) –Cikini
Tjikini Swimming Pool (1925)
Renovation Plan of Societiet Harmonie (1928)– demolished 1985
Parts of Municipal Urban Development in Menteng (1920)
Nassauchurch (1936) –Gereja Protestan Jemaah Paulus Jl.Imam Bonjol
Ghijsels’ Journey End
Unfortunately, There is nobody knew, when he returned to Holland. However, he was passed away on 2 March 1947 in Holland.
The next journal will tell you about parts of the performing of Ghijsels in Batavia that I visited. My curiosity, research and exploration about the performing of Ghijsesls has not been finishing yet. Join with me in the next adventure traveling to next buildings.
This journal may be a little story, lack of information or history, so simple to describe the great history. However, Ghijesels said regarding his art deco style quoted from Greek philosophy, “Simplicity is the shortest path to beauty”.
Mahandis Yoanata Thamrin
“Ir. Frans Johan Louwrens Ghijsels: Architect in Indonesia (1910-1929)”, Seram Press – The Netherlands, Published in association with Periplus Editions.
The photograph is reproduced from that book, p. 33.