May 30, 2012

Traces of Emerald

Stained glass and facade detail, House 'Hejmo Nia'. Photo by K&WH

On Monday 21st of May on the Tong Tong Fair we also went to an interesting lecture about 'Sporen van Smaragd' (see 'Batik on the Tong Tong Fair'). They are making an inventory of Dutch-Indonesian heritage from the period 1853 till 1945 found in building in Den Haag.
I'm inspired by this project, thinking a lot about this cross-over in architecture. These marks, traces found in Den Haag, 'widow of the East Indies', are now seen as typically 'Haags'. The last generation of former emigrants from the Dutch East Indies are getting extinct and along with them the knowledge of this shared history dies. On the one hand 'Batik Belanda' and other unique things are found by grandchildren on attics and in basements (see 'Tour to Batik Belanda'). On the other hand stories, information and things worth knowing disappear. 'Sporen van Smaragd' hopes by finding these building related to the Dutch East Indies this part of history can be protected.
House 'Hejmo Nia' in Den Haag. Photo by Michael Freriks
Villa Góndang in Den Haag. Photo by Michael Freriks
'Villa Padang' in Breda

Can these traces only be found in Den Haag or are there more cities with this influence on architecture?
Breda has a rich past. Spaniards invaded, Oranjes lived here (or at least buried here), Poles freed us and the KMA trained KNIL soldiers.
There was and still is a big Indonesian community, maybe not so visible anymore, but maybe we just don't see it yet.
Thinking about these things, looking at old buildings in Breda, I almost fell of my bike when crossing 'Villa Padang'. I was on my way towards a Butterflies-excursion (more about that some other time). I made this picture on my way home. The houses in that neighborhood are from begin 1900, some are dated: '1907', '1925' and '1927'.
The building has a tropical feel to it. I first noticed the style, the white with dark red, the balconies and the conservatory. The sign with the name is new, it isn't there on Google maps Street view and I can't find this house in the online archive of Breda. Maybe the title is new and maybe it is just coincidence, but it has made ​​me curious.
Maybe there are more traces of emerald to be found in different cities in the Netherlands. Wouldn't it be great if these places are known and kept save from rebuilders and demolishers. That this 'shared heritage' became part of our history, not hidden or kept hidden, but out in the open to show our mixed culture and colonial past.
Java bridge in Den Haag. Photo by Michael Freriks

The organization behind 'Sporen van Smaragd' will keep me posted about activities and publications in 2012-2013, so you can read about it on De reis naar Batik!

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