Trails of Ghijsels in Batavia (1): John Peet & Co. Office Building and Misery of Berends Schout’s Tombstone

This building is sited in Kali Besar West, Batavia (now Jl. Kali Besar Barat). Ghijsels designed for John Peet & Co Office Premises in 1919 and then in 1920 the construction was applied.

It has two floors facades with five bays. The heavy cornice is interrupted in the center of facades in part of main entrance. The open gallery on the ground floor was designed as a passageway for pedestrians.

The gallery at street level was conceived as second facade and delivered the visitor to the first floor, so the office were protected from direct sunlight and remained cool. Ghijsels used of rounded corner forms for the cornice and ornamental bands that softened the straight lines of the facade. It created a harmonious exterior.

When I entered the gallery for passageway, the windows have been installed in the gallery openings but interior has remained almost completely in its original state.

After we entered the entrance doors, we’ll two up stairs. This design is frequently used in several Ghijsels’s work.

Today, the present occupant of this former John Peet & Co office building is Japan company, Toshiba. The owner ahs extended this building in to the Jl. Roa Malaka. In the backyard space we found old tombstone with the Holland inscription. I’ll try to translate it: Tombstone of Berend Schout. Born in Hoogezand 6 September 1893. Died in 17 May 1945 as the Japanese prisoner…”. Owwhh…

About this tombstone, the security commander of the Toyota Company said that originally this tombstone was from backyard of this building, but there’s nobody knew about the original site of this tombstone exactly.

What a pity of Meneer Berend Schout…

Warmest Regards,
Mahandis Yoanata Thamrin

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On Mission
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
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”.

Warmest Regards,
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.


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