11 July 2022, 12:34
The Indonesian city of Samarinda. Reconstruction after the War

Dutch architecture historian Pauline K.M. van Roosmalen shared the unusual experience of the post-war restoration of Samarinda, Indonesia. Why is it unusual? Because despite the fact that the city is located on the island of Kalimantan (Borneo), in the Pacific Ocean in south-east Asia, you can see the signs of European urban planning practices there.

Samarinda was founded in the middle of the nineteenth century. The city developed rapidly thanks to the deposits of oil that had been discovered on the island a few decades before. However, during World War II, this oil became a problem for the city: the Japanese were very interested in it, and the Allied troops did not want to give them this resource. Because of the desire to control the territory, the city was practically razed to the ground, approximately 4,000 hectares were destroyed.

Before the war, there were about 150-200 architects in Indonesia, some of them had their own bureaus. However, most of them subsequently either died or left the country. Those experts who remained in the country were united in the Central Planning Bureau. It was responsible for reconstruction and was developing rebuilding projects for that part of the state that remained under the control of the Netherlands. At the same time, Indonesian National Revolution was in full swing; until 1949, the country had fought against the Netherlands and Britain. 

There was a lack of resources for the restoration, not even enough paper for the architectural plans. Therefore, the specialists prepared a master plan. The city had to be not only restored, but also adjusted to the new realities. In particular, it was important to build more: the population grew quite quickly, large families lived in small houses. To determine what exactly needed to be changed, research was carried out before developing the plan. Thus, architects identified which areas were destroyed the most, and which were prone to flooding or the spread of malaria. 

Based on this, experts offered to reorganize the network of streets: they became straight and clear, formed rectangular blocks. It was unusual for an Indonesian city. It was also divided into areas, which was very characteristic of the post-war Europe. Part of this planning of Samarinda still exists.

At the same time, for Ukraine, Pauline K.M. van Roosmalen advises the following: 

  1. To plan the rebuilding for the future, not for the past. To think not only about what and how much needs to be restored, but also how the restored city will look like in 15 years. 
  2. There is no need to involve star architects. Sharing experiences is good, but you need to work with those who understand the local context: cultural, historical, economic. It is necessary to involve local architects, sociologists, anthropologists because they understand what is best for the territory. 
  3. To think about how to build cities in terms of saving resources and renewable materials. 
  4. During the reconstruction and rebuilding, people's opinions must be considered. In the Netherlands, for example, there is an independent advisory committee. It discusses the plan with inhabitants and developers, then draws a conclusion. Without its advice and remarks, the draft is not submitted to the municipality for consideration.

Listen more about the rebuilding of Samarinda in Pauline K.M. van Roosmalen’s speech.

You may also be interested in stories about the rebuilding of Coventry, Warsaw, BerlinHiroshimaLe Havre, and villages in the Netherlands.



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