the 1920’s when the Dutch decided to gradually move its colonial
capital to Bandung, it was the heyday of Art Deco. That is the reason
why until today Bandung still holds some of the best examples of
Tropical Art Deco architecture in the world. Bandung then prospered with
more and more large plantations and large companies headquartered here.
By 1939 Bandung’s cinchona plantations produced 90% of the world’s
quinine, while Dutch coffers were filled with the sale of coffee grown
around the city. As the new town became the home of the Dutch wealthy
elite, Bandung came to be known as “Parijs van Java” – the Paris of
As your train arrives at the Bandung station, you are
already greeted by a fine example of Dutch architecture. When you
disembark from the train, turn right and you will find an authentic
interior of an Art Deco building. Constructed in 1884, Bandung’s train
station still maintains its authenticity and originality up to this day.
Savoy Homann Hotel as well as the Grand Hotel Preanger are both
prominent examples of well-preserved Art Deco architecture. The Preanger
Hotel was built in 1929 by a Java-born Dutch architect, Charles Prosper
Wolff Schoemaker, who previously worked for a famed American Architect,
Frank Lloyd Wright. Schoemaker, who was then lecturer at the Bandoengsche Technische Hoogeschool, now the Bandung Institute of Technology
, hired Soekarno, a draftsman who was also his student. History has it
that this student draftsman would ultimately become the founding father
and the first President of the Republic of Indonesia. The Grand Hotel
Preanger has been modernized, but its original sections are maintained.
There are other buildings associated with Schoemaker’s name. On Braga Street, his creations include Majestic Cinema, now the First Asian-African Conference Museum, and the adjoining Societeit Concordia Club House,
currently Gedung Merdeka. The neo-gothic, Art Deco Catholic Cathedral
of St. Petrus splendidly stands on Merdeka Street, a block from Braga
Street. Schoemaker’s masterpiece is Villa Isola on Dr.
Setiabudhi Street, built in 1933 as a residence of a millionaire, D.W.
Beretty. The house later turned into a hotel and is now used as the main
office of a nationally-renowned university. This architectural jewel is
considered as “Indonesia’s greatest contribution to the world of art-deco”, boasting curvaceous shapes that blend beautifully with the terraced garden landscape.
prominent name that is also equally renowned for Bandung’s Art Deco
architecture is Albert Frederick Aalbers. Born in Rotterdam, the Dutch
architect moved to Bandung in 1928 to try his luck in the Dutch East
Indies. The architect’s signature style, ‘Streamlined Deco’ on the
façade, and ‘Tropical Deco’ inside, can be seen on Denis Bank, now Bank Jabar on Braga Street, and the nearby Savoy Homann Hotel.
Perhaps the most well-known art deco building stands precisely in the center of the city. The Gedung Sate, the building that is now the governor’s office, was completed in 1920, and designed by J. Gerber. Famous for its skewer-like antenna - Satay or Sate
- which gives the building its popular name, it combines neo-classical
style with native elements and creates grandeur and a unique mixture of
Western and Eastern atmosphere.
The Dutch East Indies
architectural trails can still be seen in Bandung. The high concrete
walls and decorated windows structure still stand silently today as a
reminder of a bygone era, within which different cultures were
assimilated. So, what are you waiting for? Pay a visit to the past. Be
the one to witness, that there is still a little bit of ‘Europe’ in