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Dutch Indies country house

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Dutch Indies country house

Dutch Indies country houses (known as landhuizen, landhuis or thuyen) are Dutch colonial country houses in the Dutch Indies, now Indonesia. Many country houses were built by the Dutch in its colonial settlements during the 18th century, such as Galle, Cape Town, and CuraƧao, but none as solidly built and as grandeur as the Dutch colonial country houses of Batavia; much of Batavia's reputation as 'Queen of the East' rested on the grandeur of these 18th-century mansion.


Architecturally, in the beginning, they were conceived as replicas of the Dutch architecture. Later, the design include features from Javanese vernacular architecture, partly to response to the tropical climate. This distinctive type of architecture, fusion of Western and Javanese architecture, became known later as the Indies Style from the Dutch East Indies. The Indies Style is the first form of a fusion of Dutch and local architecture which gave rise to subsequent style of early Dutch Rationalist architecture in Indonesia. Despite the heritage of this structure and its protected status, many of the Indies country houses were left to deteriorate or completely demolished, often due to lack of maintenance management. Many of these houses were within the complex owned by the National Police, often transformed into a dormitory albeit with improper conservation method.


In 17th century Netherlands, increasing importance of Holland as a major maritime nation with a growing commercial empire overseas, particularly in the East, had generated capital for the merchant classes of Amsterdam. These increasingly wealthy merchants began to invest their profits in a second residence outside Amsterdam. This second residence, or landhuizen, ranged from modest rural retreats to luxurious manor houses, and typically seats along the river Amstel and Vecht. In Batavia, similar trend occurred in middle 18th century. When Batavia grew increasingly unhealthy during the 18th century, wealthy Dutch East India Company officials were the first to flee Batavia and build for themselves grand country houses in the surrounding countryside, typically situated between the rivers and roads that led into Batavia.

The officials of the Dutch East India Company were able to build country houses outside the walled city Batavia when the Ommelanden (the hinterland that lay immediately beyond the walled city) had been pacified and kept free from attacks by Javanese insurgents who were trying to evict the Dutch occupiers. This was achieved by establishing a circular line of fortified field posts at places like Antjol, Jacatra, Noordwijk, Rijswijk, Angke and Vijfhoek; most of which were established in the middle of 17th century.

The first houses were wooden structures, but as time went by, these became opulent country houses in luxurious pleasure gardens, often with its own music pavilion and belfry.

The Indies Style

The Indies Style appeared very pronounced in the country houses of the Dutch Indies. This new architectural style appeared in late 18th-century and gradually become more developed as it try to conform with the tropical climate of Java and Sumatra. The style can be divided into three major prototype: Dutch Style country houses, Transitional Dutch Indies country houses, and Indies style country houses. Many of these Batavian country houses are completely demolished but at least one prototype of the three major style survives as of 2015.

Dutch Style country houses

Country houses in the Dutch Style (Nederlandse stijl) were popular between 1730-1770. It is typically a two-storeyed country houses of almost exact replicas of their Dutch counterparts. The Dutch influence are the hipped roof, closed and solidly built facade, and high windows. This country houses are often equipped with belfries, musical pavilion, and a European pleasure garden without any consideration of its tropical surrounding. The only concession to the tropical climate is the relatively large roof overhang compared with the original Dutch country houses. Also, unlike their Dutch counterparts, Batavian estates included extensive ancillary quarters to accommodate the large number of servants, often in the rear of the house. The interior was usually larger than its Dutch counterpart, with ceiling that is much taller.

Samples of country houses belonging to this style are Weltevreden country house, Groeneveld House in Condet, Reinier de Klerk country house (now the building of the National Archives of Indonesia), and Jan Schreuder country house.

Transitional Dutch Indies country houses

Also known as Nederlands-Indische stijl, the style appeared between 1750-1800. The structure and form of this type of country house shows a process of acculturation to the tropical climate on the part of the Dutch. It is still a two-storey structure, but the facades are protected from solar radiation and heavy rain by extremely large overhanging roof which projects on all sides of the house. The roof profile resembles the local joglo-style roof traditionally reserved for Javanese noblemen. The upper floor is usually reached by external staircase and often the central portion was left open to encourage maximum ventilation; as well as tall windows with louvered shutters. The style was also popular in Sumatra.

Samples of this type of country houses is Rumah Cililitan Besar (1775), which still survives but seriously deteriorates. Other examples are Pondok Gedeh country house and Cengkareng country house.

Indies style country houses

Also known as Indo-European house (Indo Europeesche Stijl) or Indische stijl, this type of country houses appear between 1790-1820. The form of these country houses represents the perfect expression of the intermingling of Dutch and indigenous (Javanese) architecture. Country houses of this type consisted of a single storey with front verandahs (pringgitan) and rear verandahs (gadri), covered by a high, pitched roof which extended over the verandahs. Often the verandahs were connected to side galleries for full climatic protection. The verandah often had potted palms, cool concrete or marble tiles covered with split bamboo mats. The western reference appears in the neo-classical Tuscan columns supporting the large roof overhang and the decorated doors and windows.

Many of these original Indies country houses have been demolished, very few of the original have survived today. The style was replicated all around the archipelago in later period. One of the few surviving example is Cimanggis house, albeit in a seriously deteriorating condition with its roof collapsed somewhere before 2013. Other examples are Japan House (built for Andries Hartsinck by the end of 18th century, demolished in 1996), Tjitrap (Citeureup) house, Telukpucung house and Camis house.

Decline of the country houses

With the dissolution of the VOC, the country houses were becoming less popular. During the 19th century, there were two groups of architectural movement in the Dutch East Indies: the universally accepted but steadily decreasing in popularity neoclassical style, appropriate for a colonial empire; and the Modernist, which gives rise to a neo-vernacular school of architecture which combined with Art Deco to create a new modern tropical style dubbed as New Indies Style. Whereas the earlier Indies Style were essentially Indonesian houses with European trim, by the early 20th century, the trend was for modernist influences being expressed in essentially European buildings with Indonesian trim. Practical measures carried over from the earlier Indies Style, which responded to the Indonesian climate, included overhanging eaves, larger windows and ventilation in the walls.


Dutch Indies country house Wikipedia

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