Six months on: rebuilding West Sumatra’s capital

Ten historic buildings, mostly in Padang, are selected for restoration following earthquake, at a cost estimated around €2.5m

london. Plans to rebuild West Sumatra’s historical buildings following two massive earthquakes that struck the Indonesian province six months ago are taking shape. The Amsterdam-based cultural relief organisation the Prince Claus Fund working in conjunction with the Indonesian Heritage Trust (IHT) has identified ten priority structures for restoration, drawn from a list of 228 structures damaged during the natural disaster. The focus of the restoration effort which is expected to cost over E2.5m, is the old city centre of Padang, the country’s capital and epicenter of the 7.6 magnitude quake.

Buildings on the priority list include: the Old City Hall, built in 1938 by Dutch architect Thomas Karsten—a major figure in Indonesian town planning under Dutch colonial rule and a classic example of Dutch colonial style; the Ganting Grand Mosque which suffered extensive damage to its interior and exterior; and the Convent of St Leo, which was built in 1903, and is the country’s only extant example of the Gothic revival style. The only structure to make the list from outside Padang is the 17th-century Lubuak Bareh Grand Mosque located 50 kilometres north of the capital in Pariaman.

According to Eléonore de Merode from the Prince Claus Fund, one of the greatest challenges faced by the IHT is raising awareness among the local community and authoritative bodies of the importance of including the preservation of cultural heritage into the longterm rehabilitation strategy of the region. “There is a strong tendency to pull down damaged heritage to make way for modern, concrete constructions. This is because neither the authorities nor the community have the technical capacity to address heritage conservation nor the awareness of its multiple benefits,” says De Merode.

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