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Batavia is a Novel

Ruin in the middle of traffic jam
Ruin in the middle of traffic jam

Everywhere in the world, the rise and fall of a regime takes place in the capital city. The rise of Ming Dynasty in China is indicated by the movement od capital city from Xi’An to Beijing. Likewise in Java, the fall of Majapahit is followed by the rise of Demak city as the capital of Islamic kingdom. It happens in modern era. The fall of modern Indonesian regime took place in Jakarta and not in other Indonesian city. It is not too excessive to say that the theater stage of regime change is in the capital city with its wall, in the ancient time, and all its economics power.

A city is like a human being; she was born and could die. The born of a city was preceded by the growth of a trade knot at the cross roads or rivers. At this cross road trading in its simplest form is done. However, the growth of this city can be stopped because of war or natural disasters. Pompeii is perhaps an example of a city of the dead. In the dead city, a variety of remaining cultural artifacts is left behind while its living is gone. Not only the whole city is perished, but also part of the city can be dying though surrounded by lively city. The oldest quarter of Rome, we call it Foro Romano is dead, however it is surrounded by a metropolis. In addition, the city may also lose its history although the city itself is still there. Xi 'An example an old town, older than Chinese script, the only remaining is the city walls and ancient buildings such as bell and drum towers. The commoner’s houses and their culture is gone. At this point of time the city did not make dialectics but stops of the pulse of dynamics time. From this we can distinguish between archeology and architecture, archeology observe the dead city, while architecture designs the surviving part of the city.

Similarly, Batavia is hundreds of years old. The time lining from it was founded, the war, pestilence that happened, destruction of the castle and town walls, and the development of various art deco architecture and present form, is like the pages of thick novel. The remains of city wall, the maritime museum, the old tower of the port, the other old buildings, more over the building built during Batavia was founded, are the heritage that we must protect the legacy of damage.

It is the duty of urban planners to present a “readable novel”, livable old city, interesting to visit, create a miss, and should be the most humane part of the whole city.