The Firm

Oct 2012|News from de Reus

Early Foreign Architects in Bali and Indonesia

It is interesting to note that while de Reus’ personal transformational experience was profound, it was by no means unique—Bali has exerted a magical effect upon foreigners since 1597, when two Dutch sailors jumped ship to become the island’s first expatriates. More than three centuries would subsequently pass, and Bali’s medieval society thrived in splendid isolation with little outside attention or interference. This would suddenly change in the first decades of the 20th century, when the island gained world fame and nicknames like the “Last Paradise.”

While much of the attention on this remarkable period of Balinese and foreign cross-cultural fertilization has been focused on the concentration of a broad array of international artists and celebrities who lived and worked on, or visited the island, there were also a handful of talented architects, amateur and professional, comprising this exotic expatriate cocktail. These men included W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp, artist and author of Bali en Lombok (1906–1910); and P.A.J. Mooijen, who not only restored Besakih, the island’s most sacred temple, after a giant earthquake in 1916, but also authored Bali Kunst (Bali Art) (1926), the standard work on Balinese architecture. Mooijen was an adherent of H. P. Berlage, one of Europe’s most renowned architects of the period. Coincidentally, Berlage, who visited Indonesia in 1924, had a strong influence on Frank Lloyd Wright. In turn, Wright inspired F. J. L. Ghijsels, a major colonial architect who built several iconic Art Deco-style buildings, including Kota Station in Jakartaand the Bali Hotel, the island’s first luxury hotel establishment. Notably, while traditional Indonesian architecture impacted the work of Henri Maclaine Pont’s design for the Bandung Technical University and the spectacular Dutch East Indies Pavilion built for the 1931 Paris Colonial Exposition, most colonial architecture remained anchored to European precedents.

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