In the last decade, a growing number of Indonesian professionals have been engaged in the study of the built heritage of Indonesia’s historic inner cities. The economic centre of such cities has shifted from the old town centres to newer parts of the city. The empty buildings and public spaces that been abandoned are in need of new allocations and redevelopment. The heritage-led development of historical inner cities requires a thorough understanding of the history of buildings and urban planning. It is therefore extremely important to collect and analyse historical data in order to integrate these into planning processes.
On 27 and 28 October 2014, the National Archives of Indonesia (Arsip Nasional Republik Indonesia, ANRI) hosted the workshop 'Collecting and Connecting: Historical Data for Inner City Development'. Building upon the growing awareness in Indonesia of the benefits of combining heritage conservation and urban development, the workshop aimed at bridging the gap between theory and practice. In reality, as indicated by professionals from government institutions, NGOs and universities in Indonesia, knowledge on how to collect and manage historical data was lacking. Obviously, the workshop provided only the first few steps in addressing this deficiency rather than offering a final solution. During the evaluation of the workshop, the participants signalled the need for a guideline to support professionals undertaking archival research for the sake of heritage conservation and inner city revitalization; and it was at this very moment that Digging4Data: How to do research on the built environment in Indonesia, 1620-1950 was initially conceived.
This publication is a practical tool kit that describes how to collect and manage historical data. The goal is to support research on the built environment: buildings, town plans, landscape, infrastructure, garden architecture and interiors. The tool kit focuses on the skills required to carry out research on the built heritage and environmental planning during the Dutch presence in Indonesia, c. 1620 to 1950, ranging from the buildings of the VOC (Dutch East India Company) period through to the modern urban planning of the 1940s. In addition, although this tool kit responds to a need expressed by architects, urban planners and government officials, it is intended for anyone interested in this area of research. The tool kit is the result of intensive collaboration between Indonesian and Dutch researchers and institutes: the Indonesian Centre for Architecture Documentation (Pusat Dokumentasi Arsitektur: Nadia Purwestri) worked closely together with the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed: Jean-Paul Corten, Jinna Smit),
the National Archives of the Netherlands (Nationaal Archief: Johan van Langen, Frans van Dijk), Heritage Hands On (Hasti Tarekat) and experts Huib Akihary and Pauline K.M. van Roosmalen. The Shared Cultural Heritage Policy of the Netherlands Government was also instrumental, providing a framework and funding for the sustainable preservation of the heritage shared by the Netherlands with several partner countries. Indonesia and the Netherlands have successfully collaborated within this framework since 2009.
Digging4Data was written by three authors: Dutch architectural historians, publicists and experts in the field of colonial architecture and town planning in Indonesia, Pauline K.M. van Roosmalen and Huib Akihary. During the workshop ‘Collecting and Connecting: Historical Data for Inner City Development’, their systematic and handson approach on how to undertake research on the built environment was much appreciated by the participants. Through this tool kit, they are sharing their experience with a wider audience. The third author, Nadia Purwestri, has been involved in numerous architectural heritage
projects. Drawing on her experiences with heritage conservation and urban planning practices in Indonesia, she has ensured that this tool kit will meet the needs of researchers in Indonesia.