In response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Repurpose.
Talking about repurposing something near me, I remember about the oldest building in my office complex. I’ve written about it in my post titled “Old Cane for The Elder One” (Indonesia: Tongkat Baru untuk Sang Manula). Many readers ask about what is the building actually–and what is its appearance. And I was kind of waiting for a theme, an appropriate theme for writing so I could tell a story about how is the building look like. Yesterday I browsed the theme for WPC and I think no theme is more matched other than this one.
Because this building is maybe the oldest form of repurposing something. In this case, another structure’s ruins. Here is it, the Daendels’ Palace, Het Witte Huis, Het Groote Huis, Gubernemen Hotel. A palace that was built by Herman Willem Daendels, the 36th Governor-General of Dutch East Indies. A palace that was built to be his majestic and glorious residence, but sadly enough, he never steps in the palace when it was completed.
This is Batavia’s White House.
How could I say that this building is a form of repurposing? It’s because the materials used to built this “White House” were no other than the wreckage of The Castle of Batavia, a castle once stood in the north-east coast of Jakarta today. This castle, built in the early years of 17th century, once a center of administration for VOC, or in its familiar name, The Company. This company didn’t last long, it went into bankruptcy in 1799 because of its massive corruption scandal and effective from January 1, 1800, the company was disbanded.
When Daendels came to this city, in the name of Louis Napoleon, he make the city underwent many changes. One of his first (and most controversial order) was to dismantle the Batavia’s castle and move the city center to the south, the Weltevreden. But this new city must have a landmark, a magnificent building as its center, too. So in 1809, he ordered (again) a project to built this white house, in the style of The Empire, a style that (in that time) were very famous in Paris. Lieutenant-Colonel J.C. Schultze acted as the architect, while the Governor-General supervised everything.
But he never watched his palace’s inauguration. In 1811, he was called back to Poland. The building hadn’t finished yet because Sunda Kelapa, the harbor, was blocked by the England. It was in 1819 that the construction finally ended, and Daendels never see the completion because he had died in 1818. It takes 10 years to build this white house; a three-story-building with a length of 170m and lots of windows. Today, this building is a landmark of Ministry of Finance. There are a lot stories (and many concerns) about this building. But I think I will share it in another post.
Yet, another aspect of repurposing, as stated in the theme’s post, is renaming. This building also experienced a name change, too. If in the past, this building were known as Het Witte Huis, as I stated earlier, today it’s known as “Gedung A.A. Maramis I”. A.A. (Alexander Andries) Maramis was a Indonesia’s National Hero, as well as the 1st Minister of Finance. He signed the first emission of Indonesian bank notes, called the ORI (Oeang Repoeblik Indonesia). The day when ORI were distributed to public now is commemorated as the Finance Day, every 31th October.