The company responsible for the development of the northeastern part of what is now Menteng, but at the time New Gondangdia, was called De Bouwploeg (literally translated: The Construction Crew) and established in November 1909. Leading people in this company were Director G. Elenbaas, Deputy Director and Engineer Ch. P. Wolff Schoemaker and Architect P.A.J. Moojen. Thecompany had a massive task. By 1911 construction of the first houses commenced along Entree Gondangdia (now Taman Cut Meutia), Boulevard Gondangdia (later Van Heutszboulevard and now Jalan Teuku Umar), Tandjonglaan (Jalan Tanjung) and Nieuwe Tamarindelaan (Jalan Sam Ratulangi). De Bouwploeg company aimed to be fully independent and did not outsource any services. It had its own factories and workshops to produce materials and even furniture.
“Malaria free district of Gondangdia”
Hence it advertised in newspapers “We build and fully furniture houses in the new malaria free district of Gondangdia”. The company’s own brick and tile company delivered 140,000 cement bricks, 15,000 roof tiles and 300 sewer pipes a week. The botanical gardens in Bogor provided advice on what the best trees would be to plant in the new district, and nurseries in the vicinity of Bogor were cultivating over 10,000 trees, which would be transported to Batavia/Jakarta in stages during the 1910s. The Batavia municipality was responsible for the construction of roads, waterworks and parks.
De Bouwploeg at first was based in Kota in the building of the Court of Justice (now Museum Seni Rupa dan Keramik), moved to the address Kramat 182 in 1911, and finally would be based in its own premises as from November 1913. Construction of this characteristic building (which is now the Cut Meutia mosque) commenced in April 1912 and would cost 80,000 guilders. It was designed by Moojen himself. This photo was taken from the first floor of the just completed building of the Kunstkring.
One of the largest and most beautifully designed houses of architect P.A.J. Moojen in Kramat was the one on Kramatlaan 24 (now Jalan Kramat V 24). It was at the end of the street, close to the Ciliwung River, and together with the house on the opposite side of the road (Kramatlaan 15, also known as the “Haunted House”, see our previous post), it had the largest plot of land. When seated in the spacious garden, residents of this house were able to hear the calming sound of the nearby river. Most of these houses were inhabited by influential Batavia/Jakarta residents at the time, of which a few were members of the Raad van Indië (Council of the Indies).
Between 1923 and 1926 this house on Kramatlaan 24 was the residence of Herman Salomonson (1892-1942), also known under his pseudonym Melis Stoke. Salomonson was a dynamic personality, novelist and editor-in-chief of newspaper Java Bode. He also wrote rhyming chronicles, published in the papers at the time, and this made him a household name in the Dutch East Indies during the mid 1920s. Salomonson left Batavia in 1926 after the founder of news agency Aneta, Dominique Berretty (1890-1934) had asked him to become the director of Aneta’s branch in The Hague.
World War II
The events of World War II sadly cut his life short. Herman Salomonson, a Jew, was murdered by the Germans in 1942. The photo shows Herman Salomonson and his family in better times, relaxing in the garden with the majestic Moojen house at the back. Part of this house still stands today (see the photo in the comment section) but it has been severely altered and despite some characteristic Moojen elements left, the house has lost all of its former grandeur.
source: Gerard Termorshuizen, “A humane colonial, life and work of Herman Salomonson, a.k.a. Melis Stoke”, Amsterdam 2015
None of the 22 two-storey houses on Kramatlaan (Jalan Kramat V) and Laan Wiechert (Jalan Kramat VII) were identical. They all had their own unique design, ornaments and fittings. The house on this photo is called “Spookhuis” (Haunted House) and we can only guess why. The photo is from circa 1913 and shows a family with four children, two of their servants and two visitors, probably a couple or extended family. What we know is that this is a house on Kramatlaan (Jalan Kramat V) but we don’t know exactly what house number. There were 14 two-storey houses along the western end of this street and all were unique; 13 houses do still stand today, although most in a heavily altered or deteriorated state, hence it is challenging to determine which of these would nominate.
Most likely this is the house on number 15, closest to the Ciliwung River. This house was designed by Moojen and built in 1909. This particular one is larger than most others in the street due to the extended patio on the right side of the house. It is also one of few houses in this street with four windows and four panels with stained glass windows on the left front side above the entrance and front gallery. What we do know is that this family did not own the house but rented it for approximately 125 guilders per month. The original building company still owned all houses in this street. If anyone knows more about this particular house or this family, please let us know. All photos, and some more, are included individually in the comment section too.
The 22 two-storey houses designed by architect P.A.J. Moojen on Kramatlaan (Jalan Kramat V) and Laan Wiechert (Jalan Kramat VII) answered the need to tackle Batavia/Jakarta’s housing shortage in 1909, as mentioned in the previous post. In addition, Moojen applied an entirely new contemporary Indies architectural style with sturdy elements. What was new to Batavia at the time was the fact that he used reinforced concrete as the base material, and included kitchen, bathrooms and toilets in the main building. Until then it was common in the Indies/Indonesia that these were placed in the outbuildings or pavilions, usually separate buildings at the back of a house. For the bathrooms upstairs there were pressurised pumps placed on the ground floor of each new house. Furthermore there was a network of concrete drainage pipes installed from the houses to the nearby Tjiliwoeng/Ciliwung River.
Modern materials used
As both streets in Kramat were situated much higher than the river itself this did not result in any inconveniences during the monsoon season when the water in the river usually raised. Moojen also frequently used stained glass windows, venetian blinds, porches, awnings and glazed tiles. Most bricks were plastered, while he left some exposed as ornamental design. Anticipating on the arrival of automobiles the houses in Kramat were the first built in the city without horse stables, but in most cases now with a garage to accommodate the new era of transport. The historic photo dates from 1912 and shows the northern side of Kramatlaan (Jalan Kramat V) with from right to left house numbers 14, 16, 18, 20 and 22. Numbers 18 and 20 have been demolished, 14 and 22 are still present but in a heavily altered state. Number 16 is still in a good but unfortunately not entirely original condition, see the coloured photo from 2014.
Most meetings of the Batavia/Jakarta City Council between 1908 and 1911 were dominated by debates and decisions to tackle the city’s severe housing shortage. A newspaper in January 1909 elaborated on the “housing misery” and explained that residential houses in Batavia for middle-income households were too expensive or of poor quality: “Often residents with a small or medium income have to search for houses beyond their buying power or are forced to live in the kampungs”. In 1908 the ‘Bataviaasche Bouwmaatschappij’ (Batavia Building Company) was established with the goal to build good quality and affordable houses.
Nearly two years before this company merged into ‘N.V. De Bouwploeg’ and focused on the masterplan for New Gondangdia and Menteng, it started to experiment in Kramat. The company bought a sizeable piece of land that stretched out from Kramatlaan (now Jalan Kramat V) to Salembaplein (now Jalan Kramat VI) and Laan Wiechert (Jalan Kramat VII), all side streets of the main north south Kramat road. On this piece of land were the ruins of the former Kramat Hotel. Architect P.A.J. Moojen (1879-1955), who arrived in Indonesia in 1903 and was partner of the firm Biezeveld and Moojen in Bandung until 1910, had already designed the new dining rooms of Hotel des Indes and Hotel de Nederlanden (1906), the book store of Visser & Co (1907) and the new NILLMIJ head office (1909), all in Batavia/Jakarta. He was commissioned to design 120 new houses along the forementioned 3 streets in Kramat. Moojen used solid materials and most houses featured innovative designs and fittings (more in the next post).
Despite the luxury appearance, especially those with two-storeys, they were still marketed as affordable. The monthly rental price varied between 75 and 125 guilders for a two-storey house. The Bataviaasche Bouwmaatschappij remained the owner of all houses. Only 22 houses had two-storeys. These were built at the end of Kramatlaan (which was called ‘Kramatpark’ in popular speech but never obtained that name officially) and the end of Laan Wiechert (Jalan Kramat VII), close to the Ciliwung River. A number of these two-storey houses do still exist today, of which four adjacent houses on Jalan Kramat VII (numbers 23, 25, 27 and 29) are the most eye-catching. These four houses are all visible on the historic picture from 1912, and in the same sequence on the four coloured photos of 2014 and 2015. We were kindly alerted by Scott Merrillees that a number of these houses do still exist today. All photos are individually posted in the comments below this post too.