Sunday Afternoon in Menteng, “Indonesia’s First Garden City”

We offer walking tours of historic Menteng in Central Jakarta every afternoon at 4:00 PM. Cost: Rp 100,000 per person.

Please Email sharehouse.jakarta@gmail.com for more information.

Christopher Silver wrote:

The prestige of Menteng within the context of colonial Batavia would eventually be transferred to the indigenous urban elite of Jakarta in the post-colonial period. Whereas many emblems of the colonial past were shunned, Menteng as a neighbourhood of prestige persisted. It provided a residential anchor for the central core of the city that remarkably withstood the pressures of commercial encroachment in later years. This should be attributed, in good measure, to the quality of the community’s original plan, which effectively incorporated elements of interconnectedness with adjacent areas while preserving the area’s spatial integrity through an ingenious system of streets and boulevards and contiguous structures that conformed to the system. [p.60]

The initial development of Menteng took place between 1910 and 1918, based on a plan by Dutch architect, P.A. Mooijen . . . . Mooijen’s original plan bore a striking resemblance to the [utopian] garden city model of the English reformer Ebenezer Howard, in that it combined wide cross- cutting boulevards with concentric rings of streets and a central public square. . . . Although Menteng was originally intended to be an exclusive community, there were, in fact, many modest houses built along its edges, perhaps to serve as a buffer, but also ensuring occupancy by a cross section of the European community of Batavia. [p. 57]

Not only in size but also in style, Menteng was the most important neighborhood in the city and introduced into the urban landscape a diversity of traditional and modern structures that changed and enhanced the look of the  city. Traditional Indisch style one-storey villas were intermingled with two-storey structures. There were three types of small villas, the Tosari, the Sumenep, and the Madura, all of which were designed with facilities to accommodate automobiles and hosue servants but were kept under 500 square metres. There was a sprinking of Art Deco style houses and also innovative roof designs, including widespread use of the mansard roof. [p. 59]

Although escalating city centre land values exerted pressures on the edges of Menteng to convert to more convert to more intensive non-residential uses in later years, the core of the community became the focus of preservationists and re-greening advocates in the 1990s. The community plan of Menteng, and the lifestyle that it was intended to provide, endured as the city around it changed drastically. [p.60]

3 responses »

  1. Perahu Tangkuban — the mosque that Ali Menteng’s dad built and one of the oldest in Jakarta — just got ripped up last week. Judging from the illustration on the “we’re remodeling” banner it’s going to look like crap.

  2. Lovely area but astonishingly expensive now – someone i know had to fork out Rp25bn for a fairly nice house! You missed a few good statues in the area though and, if bored, you can always call by on Suharto’s residence for afternoon tea…

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