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Department of Architecture


Pauline K.M. van Roosmalen

Colonial built heritage in Indonesia remains a sensitive issue. Yet today, after decades of neglect and gradual decay, Dutch colonial architecture and town planning in Indonesia are considered ‘hot stuff’. Indonesians are often seen exploring their country’s old city centres on heritage walking tours on old Dutch bikes, often wearing mock colonial outfits. In addition, after decades of indecision, in 2009 the Dutch government implemented the Common Cultural Heritage Policy (GCE, Gemeenschappelijk Erfgoed Beleid). This policy facilitates and supports projects that deal with cultural heritage, colonial and non-colonial, in countries with historical links with the Netherlands through trade and/or colonial rule.

The question addressed in this paper is what’s so ‘hot’ about Dutch colonial architecture and town planning. The presentation will give an outline of the emergence of modern town planning and architecture in the Dutch East Indies during the last colonial period (1870-1950). This will be followed by an overview of the considerations and the debates underpinning the appreciation and appropriation of Dutch colonial built heritage in Indonesia from 1950 to the present, reflecting on both the Indonesian and the Dutch perspective.

PAULINE K.M. VAN ROOSMALEN is a Dutch architectural historian specialising in Dutch colonial and post-colonial architecture in Indonesia. She regularly lectures and publishes on a variety of issues related to (post) colonial built heritage in Indonesia, its history, threats, challenges and many opportunities. Her PhD looked at town planning in the Dutch East Indies (1905-1950) and was the first comprehensive analysis of the gradual development of town planning into an autonomous discipline in the Dutch colony.

In 2011, Dr Van Roosmalen was successful in gaining significant funding for the creation of a repository for digitised sources about European colonial architecture and town planning after c.1850, for which she remains project administrator. The repository is being developed and built by Delft University of Technology Library and will be presented in September 2014. Dr Van Roosmalen is also the author of Ontwerpen aan de stad: Stedenbouw in Nederlands-Indië en Indonesië (1905-1950) (Planning the City: Town Planning in the Dutch East Indies and Indonesia (1905-1950)), among others.

Thursday, 14 November, 2013 - 17:30 to 19:00
Event location: 
Board Room, Department of Architecture