March 23, 2010

New Life for Jakarta’s Old Town

By Ratna Yunita, ITDP

Jakarta is a metropolitan city where for the last ten years development has increased very rapidly. Skyscrapers with modern architecture are found in almost every corner of the city nowadays. But there is a noble historic revitalization project underway at the historical site of Oud Batavia or Old Town.

Round bollards prevent cars and motorcycles from entering the pedestrianized zone Photo: Walter Hook, ITDP
Round bollards prevent cars and motorcycles from entering the pedestrianized zone<br >Photo Walter Hook ITDP


Oud Batavia is situated in the north and west areas of Jakarta, including Sunda Kelapa port and the Old Fish Market. In the 17th century, the Dutch set up Oud Batavia similar to cities in the Netherlands, with a canal known as Grote Rivier (Kali Besar). Fatahillah Plaza is in the heart of this district.

In 2009, the government implemented the first project phase—pedestrian sidewalk improvement—in Fatahillah Plaza. Phase two will continue these improvements to the Grote Rivier area in 2010. The area is also free from cars and motorcycles, in order to bring better air quality for Oud Batavia’s visitors and to reduce the structural vibration that motorized vehicles cause which can damage old buildings. Pedestrianization also encourages visitors and residents to visit many museums located within walking distance of the plaza.

Fatahillah Plaza in Jakarta’s Old Town Photo: Walter Hook, ITDP
Fatahillah Plaza in Jakartas Old Town<br >Photo Walter Hook ITDP


The revitalization plan for Oud Batavia area was initiated by Ali Sadikin, the former Governor of DKI Jakarta, during his tenure from in 1966 to 1977. Unfortunately, the program was not continued by governors who succeeded him, until Governor Sutiyoso relaunched the revitalization of the Oud Batavia as a dedicated program in 2005. Revitalization work has been ongoing since 2005. The project began with the replacement of with 300 meters of road surface andesite stones to widen the road. Oud Batavia’s colorful evening lighting scheme and additional trees near the pedestrian plaza area have made the district more pedestrian friendly.

Revitalization is not only about physical changes, but also public participation in maintaining the site. In order to create public participation and to boost economic development of the area, the city administration and British Council signed an agreement to support local arts events in the next three years. The program is aimed to promote Jakarta as a creative city and to encourage visitors to come to the site.

According to Aurora Tambunan, deputy governor for the culture and tourism affairs, the pedestrian project is an inducement to attract investors to revitalize the Oud Batavia. As a cross-sector project, municipal departments involved included the Public Works Agency, the Urban Park Agency, the Urban Planning and Spatial Agency, the Transportation Agency, and the Culture and Museum Agency.


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