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Bandung is the capital of West Java province in Indonesia, and the country's fourth largest city. Located 768 meters above sea level, Bandung has relatively year-around cooler temperature than most other Indonesian cities. The city lies on a river basin and surrounded by volcanic mountains. This topology provides the city with a good natural defense system, which was the primary reason of Dutch East Indies government's plan to move the colony capital from Batavia to Bandung.


Gedung Sate
The building with the sate stick like turnpike

Gedung Sate with it’s characteristic ornament that looks like a sate stick, has been a landmark building for the city of Bandung for a long time. Not only for residents of Bandung or West Java, but people all over Indonesia recognize the style of the building which has become an example for several other buildings in West Java The building of the railway station in Tasikmalaya is a good example. It was constructed in the 1920’s and as of today the still white government building is now used as the center of power for the province of West Java.
During the Dutch colonial time, Gedung Sate was known as the Gouvernements Bedrijven or GB. The first stone was laid by Johanna Catherina Coops, the eldest daughter of the mayor of Bandung, B. Coops and his wife Petronella Roelofsen, which were the representatives of the Governor-General in Batavia, J.P. Graaf van Limburg Stirum, at 27 July 1920. The building is the result of a planning team that was made up from Ir. J. Gerber, a young architect with name from the Technische Universiteit Delft in the Netherlands, Ir. Eh. De Roo and Ir. G Hendriks from the local government of Bandoeng.

Construction of the building

Around 2.000 people were involved in the construction of the building. 150 of them were highly skilled stone and wood workers from the Chinese regions of Konghu and Kanton. They received help from other stone-workers, coolies and other workers which lived in the villages of Kampung Sekeloa, Kampung Coblong Dago, Kampung Gandok and Kampung Cibarengkok. They ealier worked on the Gedong Sirap building at the campus of the Technische Hoogeschool Bandoeng (nowadays Institut Teknologi Bandung and Gedong Papak, the city hall of Bandung.

After four years of construction, in September 1924, the main building for the Gouvernements Bedrijven was finished, as well as the main office for the PTT (Post, Telefoon en Telegraaf, Mail, Telephone and Telegraph) and a library.

Architecture

The architecture of Gedung Sate is a work of Ir. J. Gerber and his group which had in mind to make a design that closely resembled the works of famous Dutch architect Dr. Hendrik Petrus, which used many traditional features from all over Indonesia in his designs. Many architects and structural designers say that Gedung Sate is a monumental building that expresses an unique architectural design, which is known as Indo-European architecture.

A few of the poeple that praise the building are Cor Pashier and Jan Wittenberg, both architects from the Netherlands. They say the “architecture of the building is the result of an experiment which pushes the looks of the building towards Indo-European.” D. Ruhl mentioned Gedung Sate as the “most beautiful building in Indonesia” in the book Bandoeng en haar Hoogvlakte from 1952.
Dr. H.P. Berlage, during his visit to Gedung Sate in April 1923, said that “the building is one of the biggest architectural works which melted features from west and east in an harmonious way”. It is similar to the style of architecture in Italy during the Renaiscance. The several stories high tower in the center of the building has some similarities with a pagoda as well. Until today there are a number of Indonesian architects that praise the building for it’s architectural strength, for example Slamet Wirasonjaya and Ir. Harnyoto Kunto.

Inside and around the building

Gedung Sate is used as the office for the governor and vice-governor sinde 1980, but also as the main building of the governmen of the province of West Java. Earlier they were located in Gedung Kerta Mukti in Jalan Braga. The offices of the governor and vice-governor are located at the second floor of the building. Not all employees around them work at Gedung Sate, some of them work in Gedung Baru.

The most eastern and western parts of the building have large rooms which can be used as ball room like they were frequently built by Europeans at the time. The room is currently more frequently used as the eastern and western aula, which are often used for formal events. Around these two spaces, there are several offices which are used by departments from the province of West Java.

The uppermost floor is called the Tower of Gedung Sate. This floor can not be seen from downstairs. To reach the floor you have to use the old wooden stairs or a modern elevator.
The perfectness of Gedung Sate was completed with the construction of Gedung Baru, which used parts of the original architecture of Gedung Sate to keep the building in context with the older one, was completed in 1977 and was to be used for the House of Representatives of the province of West Java for it’s daily activities.

Tourist attraction

Gedung Sate has now become one of the tourist attractions in the city of Bandung. Many visitors from abroad visit Bandung because of their historic relation with this building and the city as well. The historic feeling of this building can best be absorbed then climbing the wooden stairs towards the tower of the building. There are six stairs which have to be ascended before you reach the top.

The beauty of Gedung Sate is completed by the decorative and lush gardens that surround the building and are well cared for. There is no fear that local as well as foreign visitors have to be worried about that. Because of it’s beauty, the gardens are regularly used for shooting family pictures, music clips for local or national artists or love couples.

Every Sunday, the area around Gedung Sate is opened for public, so they can spend their free day of the week here enjoying the gardens and fresh air of the city or to do some light sporting activity.


Last revised on September 25, 2009
    
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