Henri Maclaine Pont’s Wonderful Indo-European Designs

Of all the Dutch architects of the Dutch East Indies, the one who was most sympathetic to the architectural traditions of the Indonesian people was Henri Maclaine Pont. Born in Jakarta (then Batavia) in 1871, he knew the world of Nusantara well, but he was of Ducth extraction and he completed his university training at Delft in The Netherlands. A man who understood both the architectural traditions of Indonesia and Europe, he was uniquely placed to bring these two very different traditions together.

And this is what he did in a series of remarkable buildings which he designed in the early 20th century. Probably the greatest of all his works was his design for the campus of the Bandung University of Technology. The campus was designed in 1919 and combined some Western features such as central lobbies in the main buildings, but he used Indonesian building materials such as stone and timber for the buildings. Even more importantly, he used soaring wooden roofs in the shape of a stylized buffalo, which was one of the most distinctive architectural traditions of Indonesia in the pre-colonial period. Look at the roofs below (from the university in Bandung) and you will be reminded of a Minangkabau house from the highlands of West Sumatra. The most impressive of all of these is the Ceremonial Hall.

Indonesian style roofs in the university buildings

Indonesian style roofs in the university buildings

Apart from the wooden roofs, and the airy interiors, it is worth out checking out some of the lesser architectural details too. There are lovely covered walkways with stone pillars around many of the buildings. Bougainvillea vines wrap around many of them and offer bright purple blossoms for much of the year. The paneled windows are another especially fine feature. The photo below shows the East Hall (known as the Aula Timur). You can see both the covered walkways and the paneled windows in the photo below. We will feature another of Pont’s wonderful buildings soon.

The exterior of Aula Timur, the East Hall

The exterior of Aula Timur, the East Hall

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