1st Edition

Building Practice in the Dutch East Indies Epistemic Imposition at the Beginning of the 20th Century

By David Hutama Setiadi Copyright 2023
    220 Pages 95 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    220 Pages 95 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book reveals the ‘epistemic imposition’ of architectural ideas and practices by colonists from the Netherlands in the Dutch East Indies from the late-19th century onwards, exploring the ways in which this came to shape the profession up to the present day in what is now known as Indonesia.

    The author investigates the scope of these interventions by Dutch colonial agents in relation to existing Javanese building practices, pursuing two main lines of enquiry. The first is to examine the methods of dissemination of Dutch-taught technical knowledge and skills across the Dutch East Indies. The second is to scrutinise the effects of this dissemination upon the formation of architectural knowledge and practice within the colony. Throughout this book, the argument is made that what took place in architecture in the Dutch East Indies involved a process of disseminating building knowledge as a form of ‘epistemic imposition’ upon the indigenous citizens of the colony – in other words, as an effective instrument of Dutch colonial power.

    This book will be of interest to architecture academics and students interested in developing a broader global understanding of architecture, especially those interested in decolonising the teaching of architectural history and theory.

    Introduction  1. Towards a Modern Colony  2. The Dutch East Indies as a Fictional Land  3. Migration of Technical Knowledge  4. Migration of Architectural Discourse  5. Migration of Domestic Space  Conclusion


    David Hutama Setiadi is an architecture historian and educator in Indonesia. He was commissioned as the co-curator of Pavilion Indonesia at the 14th and the 16th International Architecture Exhibition la Biennale di Venezia, Venice – Italy (2014 & 2018). He graduated from the PhD program at AA School of Architecture London, UK in 2021 and from 2018–2020, he also registered as an Affiliated Research Fellow at the KITLV (Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies) in Leiden, the Netherlands. Currently, he manages NenunRuang, an open education platform for architecture and design in Indonesia.

    Building Practice in the Dutch East Indies is a stimulating work that offers a nuanced lens through which to understand the interactions that shaped and were shaped by building practices in the colonial world.”

    Robin Hartanto Honggare, Columbia University, JSAH December 2023

    “….His book forms an important step…by raising key questions that help significantly in unsettling tendencies still common in scholarship on Dutch colonial architecture, with its strong “overseas” perspective and emphasis on the architect as the main agent of the narrative.”

    Johan Lagae, Ghent University, ABE Journal 2023