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The Dutch Settlements in South-East Asia: Historical Background and Planning. Robert C.M.

Weebers, Yahaya Ahmad


The purpose of this chapter is to expand on the historical background and planning of settlements in the Netherlands, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India but more specific of the town of Melaka (in nowadays Malaysia). The ideas of Dutch architects and mathematicians, on townplanning, were laid down in treatises and had a great influence on the construction of forts and towns in the Netherlands and outposts of the VOC/Dutch in South-East Asia. In turn Dutch architects were influenced by the tracts of Italian architects from the Renaissance who wrote about their ideas of the "ideal" city. 7 This combination of ideas let to the construction of typical, recognizable, Dutch settlements all over South-East Asia. It is ofcourse interesting to see how this was applied for the city of Melaka during the period the Dutch/VOC occupied this city from 1641 till 1824.8 The treatises of Simon Stevin The planning and construction of settlements (forts and cities) in the Netherlands was greatly influenced by the architect and mathematician Simon Stevin (1548-1620).9 In 1594 he published a paper how to built fortresses: "De Stercten-bouwing" (The building of Fortifications). In 1600 his "Onderscheyt van de oirdening der steden" (the ordening of cities) was published. This tract was only published after his death by his son Hendrick. In the "Stercten-bouwing" the fortresses still had brick walls. In the wet and swampy Dutch landscape this was unpractical. Walls of earth were more easy to built and cheaper. Stevin gave much attention to the use of water as a defensive system. This was related to twelve cities: cities at the seaside, cities at tidewaters, cities at rivers without a tide, cities at the interior etc. He also explained how these cities were to be defended. Next to the fixed fortifications were the temporary fortifications in the open field. Prince Maurits gave Stevin in 1600 the commission to put together a study program for engineers at the University of Leiden. 10 The faculty got the name of "Duytsche Mathematique" (German Mathematics) the students were taught in geodesy and building of fortifications. 11 The fortifications in the open field were an important part of this program. After the students were familiar with the elementary principles of arithmatics and practical geometry they had to measure and draw regular and irregular polygon (multi corners) figures. After this they were sent into the fields where they learnt how to place these figures with the help of beacons into the field. After they had aquired enough knowledge of land-measurement they had to make models of wood or clay of bastions and entrenchments. The treastise "Castrametatio" of Simon Stevin from 1617, which means list of necesseties in an army camp, contains a description of the way in which army camps which had to be put up during sieges could be designed. Prince Maurits first had made the lay-out of the camps according to Roman models but after many complaints of his officers for the too small housing he decided to re------------------------------------------------7

The Renaissance (c. 1400 -c. 1525) was the period when there was a revivial from Ancient Roman ideals in literature and architecture. 8 The VOC/Dutch conquered the city of Melaka in 1641 from the Portuquese and held it till 1799 when it was agreed upon between England and the Netherlands that England would have Melaka under her care during the Napoleonic period (1799 - 1814) in France. After the defeat of Napoleon the city of Melaka was returned to the government of the Netherlands until it was defenitly agreed between the Netherlands and Engeland in 1824 that Melaka would be under English rule. 9 Temminck Groll, C.L., The Dutch Overseas (2002:67). 10 Prince Maurits of Oranrge-Nassau (1567-1625) was the stadhouder (governor) of the Pro- vinces of Holland in succession to his father William of Orange-Nassau(1533-1584). 11 Geodesy: the science of taking the measurments of land.


sign dehis camps according to the rectangles of Polybius and other authors of the antique Greek and Roman periods.12 Stevin combines the theoretical examples of the Classical Antiquity with the experiences of the Eighty Years War. 13 From these experiences the Prince developed a camp model which is modern for its time. The model was empirical in its description. All quarters were set up in squares with a total length of 300 Dutch feet. Next the width was adjusted to the requirements of the commanding officer or army encampment. The squares were then drawn on scale and pushed around on a drawn roster with lines parallel to each other with in between the lines space for the streets which have a width of 50 Dutch feet. When it was deemed necessary the squares could be made wider or smaller. It was there for a flexible design which allows for an encampment to be put up anywhere. This design has most likely had an influence on the design of the first Dutch colonial settlements overseas.14 It was especially the detail for logistics and order which were so characteristic for the designs of Simon Stevin. The "Castrametatio" contains lists of everything, up till the last nail, what should be in an army camp. It contains instructions to keep order in the camp, about hygiene, the sale of beer, gambling and the distribution of places where salesmen should sell their goods. Only after all the land inside the camp had been distributed the army enter could the camp. After the army had entered the camp it had to be enclosed by (water filled) moats and bastions at regular intervals. The bastions were placed at each corner of the camp. They extended slightly outside the line of fortifications so there was a better view of the surrounding countryside and along the length of the wall.15 The longer the army stayed the bigger the camp could get and could even grow to become a city.16 In 1605 and 1608 two volumes with the title " Wisconstighe Ghedachtenissen" (thoughts on Mathematics) were published. The fifth part "Vande Ghemengde Stoffen" (of the mixed goods) should have included "Vande Telconstighe Anteykeningen" (of the arithmatics notes) and "Vande Vorstelicke Bouckhouding in Domeine and Finance Extraordinaire" (of the extraordinairy Princely bookkeeping) but also four parts with the names of "Van de Spiegheling der Singconst" (of the ideas of singing), "Van den Huysbou" (of the housebuilding), "Vande Crijghshandel" (of the warfare) and "Van Verscheyden Anteyckiningen" (of different notes). Stevin however never managed to publish these texts when he died in 1620." They must have been ready as separate chapters. Probably in time they would have been made in treatises but Stevin never got to it. 18 Then there was also a chapter on architecture which he intended to include in "Winstconstighe Ghedachtenissen.19 It may have contained a part about the classical orders as discussed by Vitruvius, Alberti and Serlio.20 An indication for this is a summing up by Stevin of the measurements of columns and their ornaments based on these authors. 21 ----------------------------------------------12 Greek statesman and historian (c 200 - c 118 BC). He wrote 40 volumes on the rise of Rome of which only 5 remain in their entirity. In some volumes he wrote about wars which were fought by Rome and how they were fought. 13 The Eighty Years War (1568-1648) was fought because the Northern Netherlands (present day the Netherlands) revolted against the Spanish Habsburg Kings to gain their independence from Spain. 14 Cataloque Exhibition, Oostende verloren. Sluis gewonnen. 1604. Library of the University of Leiden (2004:8) 15 Oers R., van, Dutch Town Planning during VOC and WIC rules (1600-1800) (2000:79). 16 The Polish architect Adam Freitag who wrote the "Architectura Militaris oder fortification" in 1630 made a difference between temporary camps for one or a couple of nights, camps for sieges and camps which would grow into a city. His book was inspired by "The Castrametio" by Simon Stevin. 17 Heuvel, Ch. van den, Reconstructing Stevin's Huysbou: A Hypothesis (2005:145). 18 Ibid (2005:146) 19 Ibid (2005:149). 20 Vitruvius, Pollo (80/70 BC?-25 BC). Roman architect who wrote a treatise on architecture:


Some of these texts which form an unfinished treatise, with no real title, were most probably put together in three parts by Hendrik Stevin, Simon's son. 22 In this treatise the ideas of Simon Stevin were presented about architecture, town planning and civil engineering in the Netherlands. In a rearrangement, of this tract, Ed Taverne gave these three parts the title: "Architecturae Domesticae Stevini Synopsis".23 It was probably never intended by Simon Stevin that these three parts were put together in one treatise. Taverne, as did Hendrik Stevin, however found the texts fitted together and might therefore been taken as one single tract, but texts also overlapped. The three parts were most probably part of other treatises before they were put together.24 Hendrik Stevin, added text so that the three parts became one treatise. It could very well that the part "Byvoegh der Stedenoirdningh" (of the ordening of the house) was originally written by Simon Stevin and that Hendrik added parts of other chapters along with some sections written by himself. 25 In the same way he added two texts from proposals made by his father for Danzig, Calais, Elbing and other cities which were not intended to be included in "Huysbou". These were texts on how to keep a canal deep and clean and how to make use of a mill too keep these canals clean. 26 The assembling of the three parts, in one tract, must have taken place after 1649 already by Hendrik Stevin.27 These three parts are: "Van de oirdening der steden" (of the ordening of towns), "Byvough der Stedenoirdeningh: vande oirdening der deelen eens Huys, met `tgheen der ancleeft" (of the ordening of a house with all that goes with it) and "Huysbou" (Housebuilding). In 1649 the part "Huysbou" was still included in "Materiea Politicae" (about politics) written by Hendrik Stevin. The title of this part is: "Van Den Huysbau Vervangende mede "t geen noodich is tot bevordering der welvaer, behoudenis en geduerige verbetering van steden en landen na den Authuers gevoelen; waerby noch gevoucht is Weechidadelichen Handel van Cammen en Staven in Watermolens en cleytrcking. Cortbegryp. Deze Huysbou zal hebben 16 Hooftsticken". (of the Housebuilding with all that is necessary for the well-being of the cities and countries according to the author) In the reconstructed version of Ed Taverne the division of the chapters and sections is as follows:

The chapter on the ordening of the cities, in section 1, contains information about the way great and powerfull cities can be created. In section 2 it is about the selection of the site where to build a city. The form of the city is dealt with in section 3 as is the layout of churches and houses of correction, the galleries in front of the house on both sides of the street, the like-sided expension of the town and the fortifications of squares from small to large. The business of scouring water, the scouring water in general, sluices (their shapes), harbours, breakwaters and how to freshen stenching canals is treated in section 4. Section 5 deals with how to enable dyked lands to rise to a height in order to prevent the flooding of towns and villages while ensuring that they also become vertile. ---------------------------------------------------------------"De Architectura" before 27 BC. Alberti, Leon Baptista (1404-1472). Italian Architect who wrote the "Re Aedificatoria" in ca. 1450. Serlio, Sebastiano (1475-1564). Italian architect. Who wrote four books on architecture. The fourth one was published in 1537, the third one in 1540, the first and second ones in 1545 and the fifth one in 1547. 21 Heuvel, Ch. van den, Reconstructing Stevin's HuYsbou: A Hypothesis (2005:149). 22 Hendrik Stevin (Den Haag 1613 - Alphen aan de Rijn 1668) 23 Taverne, E, Architecturae Domesticae Stevini Synopsis. (2005) 24 Heuvel, Ch., van den, Reconstructing Stevin's Huysbou: A Hypothesis (2005:174). 25 Ibid (2005:175). 26 Ibid (2005:171). 27 Ibid (2005:174). 28 Heuvel, Ch., van den, Reconstructing Stevin's Huysbou, A Hypothesis (2005:169).


Section 2 is about the placements of the courtyards in the house. Information on galleries in courtyards is dealt with in Section 3. Section 4 is about springwells, cisterns, privies and cellars. Roofs and the shape of roofs are discussed in section 5. The ornaments on the facades and the usage of columns and the usage of columns as an ornament are the contents of section 6. Section 7 is about security measures to be taken against fire. The final section, 8, deals with thoughts on the form of the house. The chapter on "Huysbou" contains advice on the definition and description of like-sideness of houses (mirrorimage), about the like-sideness of Roman houses and the like-sideness of Greek houses is the content of section 1. Which rooms to choose and their placement in the house, the placement of galleries, the placements of stairs, chimneys, desks, privies, fountains, fireplaces, waterproof leggings and of the ordening of churches and houses of correction were part of section 2. Section 3 deals with the foundations, pumps and how to drill in sand. Buttresses on the facades, doors and windows, the closing and opening of windows, dripstones, the measurements of columns, the use of columns as an ornament, the thickness and weight of columns, architraves, frontons, pedestals. and on the parapets which support the roofs, projections in facades, artistic ornament and niches and the height of rooms depending on their length and breadth are to be found in section 4. The contents of section 5 is about what to watch out when constructing staircases, the advantages and disadvantages of spiral stairs, Examples of spiral and straight staircases when put in palce and the mathematical calculations while designing staircases. Section 6 is about stone vaults, wooden ceilings and plastered ceilings. Brickwork (the bond of brick with blue stone, how to built large works in brick, how to prevent old brickwork to sink in when new brickwork is put on top of it), stones and tiles, carpentry (the sorts of woods to be used in the Netherlands and the tools of carpenters), ironwork (the disposition of curved braces, stoves and on welding jolts and how to support the roofs and tying attics to the wall plates, ironwork and forging), smoke and the theory of smoke are the contents of section 7. Some of these chapters were not more than a few notes. Others were more elaborate. In the chapter on churches and houses of correction there is only one remark about the vaults in a house and the vaults in a church.29 In the chapter "Form der steden" (form of the cities) Simon Stevin gave some information about the accessibility of churches and mentioned a house of correction among the various pubic buildings. Some short passages were written on the protection against fire and of the affixation of stone and wood.30 Stevin's ideas about mirror symmetry in buildings were that the right side should be the same as the left and the front should be the same as the back. 31 There is also a paper where Stevin expresses his ideas why he thinks all administrative power of a city should be located in one building. All the governing bodies of the city had to be housed in a palace or "Vorstelyck Huys" (Regal House). 32 He also explained, in seven reasons, why he wanted this stately house to lodge all the officials with their wives and children. The reasons were mainly to reduce travel time to save more money. In this paper he also expressed views on architecture and townplanning as notes from contemporaries like the mathematicians Constantijn and Chirstiaan Huygens show.33 ----------------------------------------------29 Ibid (2005:169). 30 Ibid (2005:169). 31 Ibid (2005:177). 32 Ibid (2005:159). 33 Ibid (2005:165). Constantijn Huygens (Den Haag 1596 - Den Haag 1687) Dutch poet, scientist and composer. His son Chrstiaan Huygens (Den Haag 1625 -Den Haag 1695) was a Dutch astronomer, mathematician and scienticst.


Treatises about Architecture from the Italian Rennaisance. In the Italian Renaissance treatises were written by Italian architects about their views of the ideal city. These treatises had an influence on the ideas about townplanning and architecture of the architects in the Netherlands. So did Leonardo Bruni describe Florence in his "Laudatio Florentiae urbis", of 1407, as a model of an ideal city of justice, a city well ordered, harmonious and beautiful. 34 Bruni stated that the city was rational and functional in her institutions as well as in her architecture: "nothing in her is confused, nothing inconvenient, nothing without reason, nothing without foundation; all things have their place, not only definite but convenient and where they ought to be. Distinguished are the offices, distinguished the judgements, distinguished the orders". The ideal city in the Renaissance was not only an utopian one it was a real one as to be indentified with the social and political reality. It was built along a river and had a Palace (Palazzo dei Signori) and a "temple (the Dome) in the centre of town. Leon Battista Alberti in his "Re Aedificatoria" stated his aestatic and moral values quite clearly. He proposed a scheme for an entire town. [n his treatise he made a division between architecture for private and ecclesiastical purposes. Every detail in his city was subject to the whole plan. The site of the town had to be good for one's health, in a good location for watersupply and easy to defend. The town should be clearly laid out with the main streets conventiently connected with the bridges and gates. The streets should be wide enough as not to get congested with traffic but not to wide to get hot. The most important part of the design of the city was that of symmetry. An interesting treatise, in 25 volumes, "Trattato di architettura", was written by Filarete in 14601464.35 The city here had the form of an octagonal star with a .round piazza at its center from where the streets radiated. Filarete put strong emphasis on regularity and large squares in the town. His city was no artificial structure but "beautiful and good and perfectly in accord with the natural order" In his design Filarete found the social and economic needs of the population all important according the ideas of the Italian city-states of the fifteenth century. This meant there are large buildings full of symbolism. The Dome of the Cathedral, there for, was covered by a mosaic representation of God in the form of a resplendent sun that lights all of the dome with its rays of gold surroundend by angels and saints. On the pavement beneath the Dome there was a map of the lands and waters surrounded by the symbols of the seasons and the elements. In the fifteenth century the ideal city there for was one of a rational structure. The model city contained some elements of cosmic symbolism but the problems of civic life prevailed. How to make justice and wisdom work in a community and how this was translated in architecture. It is altogether very much a city on earth and there was nothing utopian about it. In the sixteenth century the borders between the real and the ideal city were less clear. Symbolism takes a greater part in the design of the town. There was no return to medieval models. Human influence was great. Utopian townplanning did not take place in heaven but in distance regions. Civic functions were less important then symbolic reprensentations. The architecture was mostly of an abstract regularity. Tomasso Campanella wrote, in an Italian version, about the ideal city in his "City of the Sun" in 1602 and in a latin version "Civitas Solis" in 1623. 36 His utopian city (which was located in a distant island) was governed by a solar religion. The form of the city was round which Campanella thought as the most perfect. The houses were arranged as circular walls.

Leonardo Bruni (Arezzo c.1370 -Florence 1444) was a leading humanist, historian and chancellor of Florence. He has been named the first modern historian. 35 Antonio Averulino (Florence 1400 - Rome 1469) called Filarete. Italian sculpture and architect. He excecuted the bronze door of the St Peter Cathedral in Rome in 1433-45. 36 Tomasso Campanella (Gionvanno Domenico) (Stilo 1568 - Paris 1639). Italian monk, philosopher, theologian and poet. 203

Concentric with the central circle where the temple stands. The temple "is perfectly round, free on all sides, supported by massive and elegant columns. This Dome in the center or `pole' of the temple had an opening in the middle directly above the single altar in the center. On the altar is nothing but two globes, of which the largest is celestial, the smaller one a terrestrial one." The round form was an old symbol of perfection. It can be seen in the form a radiating center and as a concentric arrangement. Campanella wanted to give expression of a heavenly world in his "City of the Sun" there for on the walls of the temple are depicted all the stars of heaven with their relation to things on the planet. On the walls of the houses mathematical figures, animals and different occupations of man can be seen. On the outermost circle or wall statues of great men, moral leaders, and founders of religions are placed. The utopian city plan was really an expression of criticism on the natural grown cities. The narrow streets and confused planning of most of the medieval cities was changed to a rigidly planned and perfectly regular town. Into a rational and easily understood plan of a city which reflected as a desirable solution on society as a whole. Dutch Architecture and Town Planninq accordinq to the ideas of Simon Stevin. Dutch colonial architecture and town planning all over South East-Asia was similar in design, clear and straight forward. The foundation and development of Dutch colonial settlements during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was not confined to architectural principles and technical aspects of planning and construction. It covered all aspects of the life in the colonies: from trading and warfare too everyday living and working. This could be on a social, economic and cultural level. It seems this was deliberately planned in that way. The local commanders and engineers could have been instructed by means of guidelines and technical and legal regulations from the Netherlands .37 The choice of a certain site to build a settlement depended if it could be defended properly, there had to be fertile soil and it should be located at the estuary of a large navigeable river which was essential for it's trade possibilities. Goods with a destination inland and overseas had to be transported over the water and through the port of the town. The trade of crops and handicrafts was therefore prosperous. It was generating money from tolls and assessments. The canals and rivers served more then one purpose then only to pass goods over: it gave a possibility to earn a living: fish was caught in them. They were also a used for storage, circulation and drainage of water. Underneath the pavement of the streets there was designed an elaborate system of sewerage canals for the discharge of refuse and sewage from the houses above. Regulations could have been issued on the form and size of the new town mayby even what the buildings should look like. To this date however no such regulations have been found in any papers of the States-General or VOC.38 It is not such an unconceivable idea however since everything in Dutch Society is meticulously planned. There could have been the influence of Simon Stevin's treatises on design and planning of overseas settlements. Stevin was the developer of a city design which was a combination between an orthogonal (rectangular) street pattern, influenced by ideas of planning an "ideal" town, according to principles from the Italian Renaissance. Which meant the application of arithmetic units and strict symmetry, and Dutch engineering and fortification works from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.39 Which meant that the military and civil engineering were translated in forts, fortification walls, canals, sluices, dikes and bridges. The settlement had two distinct axes crossing each other in the middle. In Roman times running precisely north-south and east-west with gates at the end of the axes. Stevin rearranged this plan by

Oers, R., van, Dutch Town Planning during VOC and WIC rules(1600-1800) (2000:10) Ibid (2000:10). 39 Ibid (2000:11).


a formal network of perpendicular streets with central points and rigid social landmarks. 40 To this were added the typical Dutch features like a water filled moat, around, and a canal (or river) that crossed through the entire town. Urban structures implied the pattern of streets, in dividing building blocks or housing plots. The canal divided the settlement into four principal identical bands or strips. Every bands had a principal layout of twenty identical building blocks, blocks which themselves were subdivided into two times ten identical plots, with the backs to each other. Stevin described how he would design a city: he would take for the streets a width of 60 feet including a separate lane, with a width of 10 feet on each side of the street, in front of the houses so people could enter easily in their houses if they are not on horseback or in their carriages. There remains there for a street of 40 feet width for traffic to pass through. For the housing blocks squares of 360 feet were chosen with the two housing plots to be built on these squares back to back. The most suitable form was a rectangcular one with a subdivision in rectangular blocks of plots, houses, courts and markets. All this in a symmetrical order. There should be a clear positioning of functions and their positioning in the plan. All places should be easily accessible especially by water or by a network of perpendicular streets. The settlement was divided in four bands or strips which were in their turn subdivided in symmetrical parts by special elements where there were placed churches, colleges, poor houses and markets. So was the important Hoogschool "High School" on the canal with opposite the Townhall (Stadthuijs) with the House for the Poor ("Armhuijs") situated behind it. To make a social distinction as well there was a double row of houses built for the labour force at the edge of the town. The centre of town was formed by two squares. One called "de Grote Marct" (Big Market) and the other one for the "Beurse" (the Exchange). It was all related to the principle of trade. In other less, democratic, countries the royal or the nobel court would be placed centrally in the settlement. Here the "Vorstelijck huijs of hof" (Royal Palace or Court) was placed at the side of the town. Next to the Big Market in the two middle bands other markets are placed: "Coornmarct, Beestemarct, Houtmarct en Steenmarct" which were the markets for wheat, animals, wood and bricks. On the "Big Market" close to the center of town, fresh goods are sold like: fish, poultry, dairy products, vegetables and fruit. The other markets for other goods were in between the two rivers. Another aspect of the Dutch settlement was the social and public aspect. 41 The "Groote Kerck" (Main Church), "The Stadthuijs" (Town Hall), "Vangenis" (Prison) and "Tuchthuijs" (Reformatory School") were all in buildings surrounding the "Big Market". The "Vishuijs" (Fish House) and the "Vleeshuijs" (Meat House) were aside the "Big Market". In a Dutch town it was important that all social groups were represented which was noticeable in the buildings built for the different factions. Another aspect of a Dutch settlement was the representation of education, family raising and reception. So there was a "Hoogeschool" (College), and a `Armhuijs" (Poorhouse). When a town was built overseas these functions were also represented in the construction ot the settlement. The hole idea of the social network of the Dutch town was that here should be no sick, begging or needy people be seen on streets. The Dutch were renowed for their relative tolerance of other religions. So in a Dutch towns plots were reserved for churches next to the centrally located church. Religious houses were built for the Jews, Lutherans, Anglicans an Catholics. Houses for worship should be not be built in a pompeous style. The whole idea about personal and religious freedom in the settlements. overseas was to attract other nationalities as well to settle because the colonies had a distinctive lack of manpower. Stevin's plan for a city was there for formed by a central river or canal which forms the primary axis of the ground plan which ran from one side to the other. From the sea to the land behind through the settlement. One side of the settlement (the short side) was parallel to the coastline. On both sides of the town were entrances and the quays of the inner harbour. The -----------------------------------------------------40 Ibid (2000:79). 41 Ibid (2000:84). 205

second axis, which ran opposite to the first one, where the most important social and public buildings, including the centre of government, were situated. Both axes represented organization. The first one running through the settlement for transport, the second one for the settlement itself: for its social and public functions. There was a hierarchy for public spaces and social institutions. There is a central market and there is a local market. There is a main church and secondary churches. There is, in other words, a structuring principle to guide the foundation and development processes of settlements, presumbably but not necessarily overseas. To wrap it up: first of all there was an orthonagal street pattern, intersected by canals and surrounded by a fortification walls and a water filled moat. The proportional relation between the width and building blocks showed a proper graduation and sense of human proportion. Then there was the architectural side of the city: with a fixed system of measurement of facades, building height and style. Thirdly the city could be expanded on all sites as with the army camps in the Netherlands.