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Kebayoran Baru, the first housing complex JAKARTA - Living in Kebayoran Baru area remains just a dream for most Jakartans. The area not only offers luxurious housing but also hang out spots such as malls, hotels, cafes and the like. However, history has shown that Kebayoran Baru needed years before developing itself into an "attractive" neighborhood. In the 1950s, it was still an "unwanted" living area as it was located eight kilometers from the city center, considered quite far at the time. In addition, road access to the area was inadequate as the housing was built on a plantation.
Despite all the above reasons, people also remained reluctant to live there as it became a notoriously popular hunting ground for robbers. Long-time resident Budi Sukada, 50, remembered the period, during which his family's belongings were stolen on numerous occasions. "In our first 10 years here, our belongings were stolen almost every week. They didn't only take tape-recorders or radios, but also park lamps and other small things," said Budi, who has lived on Jl. Lamandau since 1953.
The architect, who is also active in the Association of Indonesian Architects (IAI), said thieves usually used alleyways, located behind each house for the collection of garbage or to buy vegetables from passing vendors, as the popular escape route. Mat Item, the leader of a gang of thieves in Kebon Jeruk, West Jakarta, was believed to be responsible for much of the unrest. Thayeb I. Sabil, 67, said people were very scared of Mat Item.
"Mat Item always roamed around on his horse. He would punch anyone who dared to look at him," said the senior journalist, who once lived in a student dormitory at the so-called "Masyumi kampong" in Senayan (now the site of the Bung Karno Sports Complex) between 1951 and 1953. The gang was then eliminated by the military under the Bala Hitam (Black Troops) Battalion.
Noer Saijidi M. Koesoemo, 64, remembered the area's narrow alleyways when he started to reside in Velbak (previously a garbage dump called Vuilnisbak) during the early development of the satellite city. "There were only two small access points, the first was the eastern 'entry' from Manggarai, passing the present Mega Kuningan business belt and ending in the Santa area while the second was the western entry from Tanah Abang passing through Jl. K.S. Tubun, Palmerah, Rawa Belong and ending at Velbak."
The limited access brought problems to residents as they found problems reaching public transportation. "Public buses were very rare, the last one left at 4 p.m., along the Lapangan Banteng-Kebayoran Baru route. When I returned home from afternoon school (on Jl. Budi Utomo) at 8:30 p.m., I had to hitch a lift from passing private cars," said Thayeb.

Green area

Kebayoran Baru was just a large plantation mostly with rambutan and durian trees, just like other suburbs here. The area was part of Meester Cornelis (now Jatinegara in East Jakarta) regency. Many plots of land belonged to landlords. The upland area of Kebayoran Baru was allocated by the municipal city of Batavia (the old name for Jakarta) in the 1930s as a satellite city to fulfill the housing need.
The hilly new city - laid out like a human heart, consisted of four villages: Grogol Oedik, Pelapetogogan, Senayan and Gandaria Noord - was allocated for civil servants and white-collar workers. The first general plan for the satellite city was designed by V.R. van Roermondt, a teacher at the Technical University in Bandung. In 1937, the plan was accepted by the municipality but it had to be delayed due to the Second World War.
"In 1948, the plan was promoted by the returning Dutch administration," said the book Batavia/Djakarta/Jakarta Beeld van een Metamorfose written by M.E. De Vletter, R.P.G.A Voskuil and J.R. van Diessen. But van Roermondt was no longer responsible for the design as an Indonesian city planner M. Soesilo took over the job. The construction was organized by the Centrale Stichting van Wederopbouw (Central Foundation for Reconstruction), established on June 1, 1948.
After the transfer of sovereignty on Dec. 27, 1949 the project was taken over by the Ministry of Public Works. However, the development was opposed by indigenous residents as their lives relied on the land. Siswantari noted in her study Pembangunan Kota Baru Kebayoran Sebagai Kawasan Pemukiman Penduduk: 1948-1953 (The Development of the New City of Kebayoran as a Housing Complex: 1948-1953) that the municipality declined to fulfill its commitment to the local citizens by providing compensation. So, the people could do nothing but accept the decision heavyheartedly. Noer Saijidi - who during the 1960s worked at the Djawatan Perumahan Rakyat (People's Housing Bureau), which also built houses in Kebayoran Baru - said the foundation stone was laid at Jl. Rambai No. 2 on March 18, 1949.
The 730-hectare satellite city had to provide 12,500 houses for 100,000 inhabitants. The area was divided into blocks (block A up to block S) and each block was brightly and clearly indicated by a letter. Batavia/Djakarta/Jakarta said the largest part was aimed at housing for lower-officials (152 hectares), over 70 hectares were allocated for the middle class and 55 hectares for the high class. Seventeen hectares were used for shops and markets, 6.6 hectares for flats, 118 hectares for parks and 181 hectares for roads.
Public housing was mostly built in block A, Q and S, middle-class houses were available in most remaining blocks except G, I, F and K where villas were built, Siswantari said. Batavia/Djakarta/Jakarta said the design of Kebayoran Baru followed the broad outline of garden cities in the Netherlands. Despite being quiet, inhabitants enjoyed large gardens and fields everywhere. A huge field located at present in the Bulungan area was the favorite place for Budi Sukada to enjoy afternoons, playing with other children or enjoying food sold by vendors.
The style of most of the houses and buildings was primarily functional. "One which is typical of Kebayoran Baru is what is called 'jengki' (Yankee) style. The term was used when (first president) Sukarno practised anti-U.S. politics," Budi said, referring to the building style that features many corridors to block out the sunlight.
The jengki style houses can still be found around Jl. Sinabung. In many respects Kebayoran Baru holds a particular place in the development of Jakarta and Indonesian city-building in general. It was the first quarter of the city to be developed according to a systematic plan during the post-colonial period.

Posted in General @ 18 August 2001 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

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