The town hall.If you hadn’t read of Herman Thomas Karsten before opening this paper you’re not alone. His name is seldom seen even though he supported the country’s independence and died in a Japanese prison camp.
Yet the urban planner had a major impact on more than 20 Indonesian cities, including the capital and Merdeka Square in particular. He was also largely responsible for the high-ceiling, peak roof architecture that sheds tropical rain and keeps rooms cool.
Malang could rightly be called Karstenstad because he worked in the East Java town between 1930 and 1935, creating a well laid-out metropolis that only recently has started to be despoiled by unforeseen traffic loads and reckless development.
“The Dutch made a modern city which was once said to rival Berlin, yet we seem to be ruining it,” said a frustrated Hery Kurniawan. “I ask people who I’...