As a living witness of the dramatic Indonesian Revolution, Martono feels that Jakarta has lost its passion to develop with spirit of nationality. “In only a few decades, Jakarta has been transformed into a modern city. It shares no difference to any other modern city in the world. Jakarta dissipates its character as The City of Struggle, only to achieve its new title of a modern city,” says Martono. After completeing conservation works, along with researches at home and abroad, Martono assembled a city development concept that is based on the history of the city. “This was approved by Joko Widodo, when he was the governor, but the implementation was aborted until now, that he becomes a president.” The development of Jakarta was started back in the fourth century, when Java and Sumatera were deeply lived in Hinduism and Buddhism. Jakarta has Sunda Kelapa Harbor since the era of Indonesia’s oldest kingdom of Tarumanegara in the fifth century. It became one of the most celebrated seaport in 11th-16th century for its trading activities, that developed the civilization of surrounding area into a city.
In early 15th century, Islam invades to Jakarta, brought by Arabian traders. The religion spreaded well in the city, since it was embraced by a Sundanese Kingdom, Padjadjaran that owned the city at that moment. During this era, Fatahillah has patriotically repelled the Portuguese. His patriotic action is remembered until this day that the city museum and a city square are named after him. Jakarta developed its ‘Peranakan’ culture in this era, when it got influenced from its immigrants from China, Arab and India.
The neoclassic architecture works that now becomes our heritage treasure was built in the Colonial Era. In the three and a half century in the European colonialism, Jakarta is treated not only as an annex city like it was during the era of the kingdoms, but rather as an capital of the Dutch East Indies. The Dutch are best known as our colonialist for its longest period (1602-1799 and 1814-1942), while actually we had been colonialized also by France (which occupied Netherlands in 1808-1811) and UK (1812-1814). As the capital, the colonies were focusing on the city development, especially to the essential facilities like government offices, military facilities and hospitals. The developments in this era were mainly based on what they had back in their home countries. It became worse that some of the buildings were not designed by professional architects, but only soldiers, that didn’t consider our culture, climate and neighborhood. Later, with inputs from Dutch architects, the Dutch started the “Indische Architectuur”, an architecture style that was oriented to Dutch lifestyle, with adaptations of tropical design and local culture. “In the three and a half century of Dutch colonialism, Iacatra or Batavia was the centre of spice trading in Asia, with Rotterdam as its frequent destination. This allowed the Asian-European acculturation that makes Batavia a melting pot,” says Martono.
This advantage was brought further in the era of Independence, which mainly was supervised by Soekarno, the president himself. He started the development based on Jakarta’s maritime and multicultural character that also reflected the struggle of Indonesians. He developed big developments such as Istiqlal Mosque, National Monument and Gelora Bung Karno sport compound. Also in this era, Jakarta was divided into several districts according to its functions – the CBD at Medan Merdeka, MH Thamrin and Sudirman, and residential era that compliments Dutch-built Menteng in Kebayoran, Cempaka Putih, Pulo Mas, Tebet and Pejompongan.
Starting from these developments, Jakarta was introduced to the modern architecture. Today the modern architecture has dominated the city development. It tends to be based on the globalism and ignore the local wisdom as a cultural process, as precedently done by the Dutch. In the other side, the globalization also encourages developing countries to strengthen its nationalism. “This is how I think we should respond to globalization. Jakarta needs to highlights its own character and its passionate nationalism. The development of a city has to focus on its identity and local culture to make the city values sustain.”
Martono learnt from Ali Sadikin, the ninth governor of Jakarta, who had developed the city based on its history. Ali was inspired by Warsaw, Poland and the US cities that has eagerly built new developments with passion to nationalism and patriotism and in respect to the historical buildings. Among many nicknames of the city, Martono picked Iacatra, for its uniqueness. This name was given by the Dutch in the 17th century as an iconic name for the city that housed Sunda Kelapa Harbor. Surprisingly, this name was mistaken from the name of the Prince, Jayakarta. Martono encourage architects, academic, government and those who are responsible to the city development to develop Jakarta based on its historical values. “We have seen many cities in the world survived from bancrupty and
even livelier today since they revitalized its old cities.” This idea is not only made for the city development, but may also occur to the urban policy and as for market means.