jakarta's history and cultural legacy is inextricably intertwined with dutch colonial rule, and to this day the city features buildings that bear witness to this era. indonesia's transition to independence in 1949 wasn't exactly a smooth ride, and once the country had rid itself from colonial rule its economic trajectory steered towards building an infrastructure and identity of its own by way of rigid modernization. contrary to neighbouring countries with a similar history such as malaysia and singapore, indonesia showed striking ambivalence towards the colonial infrastructure it had inherited and many colonial structures - except most of the private residences which were considered prized possessions by the new elite - fell into serious neglect.
in jakarta and throughout the country there have been private initiatives to restore and maintain landmark colonial buildings but most have proven to be too limited or not sufficiently comprehensive to speak of constructive preservation. but as of late, the capital city seems to have traded in the aloofness for something that looks like a true urban vision. seeing the tourism value of the colonial infrastructure, jakarta's hailed governor joko widodo has initiated a revitalization project for kota, the area of town where most colonial landmark buildings in decay are located. led by a consortium of eleven private companies and state-owned enterprises, the project kicked off last week with the opening of the renovated kantor pos or post office. built in 1928 by dutch architect r. baumgartner, it has now also become home to the newly established jakarta art space + visitor center.
located on the second floor, the venue has been designed by andra matin who is a well-respected figure in contemporary indonesian architecture. matin not only designed a clean modern interior with sophisticated lighting and a flexible configuration to optimise the use for various purposes, but also had the building's façade repainted in the original hue. the jakarta art space + visitor center opened with an interesting exhibition of works by 47 contemporary indonesian artists [on through sep 13], in addition to a three-day food festival. the revitalization project aims to renovate no less than 85 historic buildings in the kota area in coming years. location: kantor pos, jalan kali besar timur 3, second floor [kota].