Charles Prosper Wolff Schoemaker

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The Villa Isola in Bandung, designed by Wolff Schoemaker.

Charles Prosper Wolff Schoemaker (25 July 1882 – 22 May 1949)[1] was a Dutch architect who designed several distinguished Art Deco buildings in Bandung, Indonesia, including the Villa Isola and Hotel Preanger.[2] He has been described as "the Frank Lloyd Wright of Indonesia,"[2] and Wright had a considerable influence on Schoemaker's modernist designs.[3] Although he was primarily known as an architect, he was also a painter and sculptor.

Early life and formative years

Wolff Schoemaker was born in Banyubiru, Semarang [id; nl], Indonesia on the island of Java, where he would spend most of his life. For his secondary school education, Schoemaker was sent to the KMA (Royal Military Academy) in the Dutch city of Breda.[4]

In 1905, he returned to the Dutch East Indies to work for the Royal Dutch East Indies Army as a military engineer. After leaving the job in 1911, he became the engineer for the Department of Civil Public Works in Batavia (present-day Jakarta), and became the Director of Public Works in 1914. From 1917 to 1918, he worked for Fa. Schlieper & Co and took a study trip to the United States with the organization,[1] where he came into contact with the work of Frank Lloyd Wright.[5]


Hotel Preanger in Bandung

In 1918, in partnership with his brother Richard, Schoemaker established the architectural firm C.P. Schoemaker and Associates in Bandung.[1] His firm blended traditional Indonesian architecture with modern European styles, incorporating traditional elements into the shapes and layouts of the buildings.[6] Wolff Schoemaker deliberately applied a functionalist approach to his buildings.[3] Among his most notable buildings were the Sociëteit Concordia building on Braga Street (1921), where the Asian–African Conference was held in 1955 (today known as Gedung Merdeka),[7] the Hotel Preanger (1929), the Pasteur Institute of Indonesia, the St. Peter Cathedral, and Villa Isola (1932), all located in Bandung.

His own house, built in 1930 in a northern residential neighbourhood of Bandung, epitomized his architectural vision. The building had been under threat of being demolished in 1995, only rescued after the intervention of the Bandung Society for Heritage Conservation. The adaptive reuse of the building, now converted into a bank, was carried out in 1996 with the help of local architects and students. The conservation of this local heritage has been awarded one of the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation in 2000.[8]

In 1922, he became the professor of the Technische Hoogeschool Bandoeng (Technical College of Bandung).[1] While professor, he mentored Sukarno, who would become the first President of the Republic of Indonesia. With assistance from the young Sukarno, Wolff Schoemaker renovated the Hotel Preanger in 1929.[9] Under Schoemaker's assistance, Sukarno also designed several houses in Bandung.[9] One of Schoemaker's most significant works was the Villa Isola, built from 1932 to 1933 for the Dutch media tycoon Dominique William Berretty.[10] Schoemaker's design was influenced by indigenous Javanese philosophy; the orientation of the building is according to the north-south axis, where the building faces Mount Tangkuban Perahu to the north and the city of Bandung to the south.[11] The building incorporates many circular shapes, such as a spiral staircase in the main lobby and an arch-shaped window in the family room.[12] Schoemaker traveled to the Netherlands in 1939, where he took a post at the Delft University of Technology until his retirement in 1941.[5][13] Schoemaker died in Bandung in 1949 and was buried at the Pandu cemetery.[14]


Wolff Schoemaker was considered one of the best Indonesian architects of his time.[8] Throughout his career, he explored the relationship between European designs and Indonesian vernacular expression.[8] His work developed a new modern language of forms based on tropical conditions and principles.[2]


See also


  1. ^ a b c d "Wolff Schoemaker, Charles Prosper" (in Dutch). Nederlands Architectuurinstituut. Retrieved 28 July 2010. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ a b c Jan van Dullemen (2010). "Tropical Modernity: Life and Work of C.P. Wolff Schoemaker". SUN architecture. Archived from the original on 25 September 2010. Retrieved 29 July 2010.
  3. ^ a b Vu, Tuong; Wongsurawat, Wasana (2009). Dynamics of the Cold War in Asia: Ideology, Identity, and Culture. Macmillan. p. 64. ISBN 9780230621947.
  4. ^ Cor Passchier:The quest for the ultimate architecture. Indonesia in the late colonial period, 2008. Retrieved 29 July 2010
  5. ^ a b The Dutch East Indies as a late Colonial Case Study Archived 22 February 2011 at the Wayback Machine, RMIT University.
  6. ^ "CP Wolff Schoemaker" (in Indonesian). Bandung Society for Heritage Conservation. Retrieved 29 July 2010. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^ Museum of the Asian-African Conference: Gedung Merdeka Archived 25 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine, 29 July 2010
  8. ^ a b c "UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation". Retrieved 29 July 2010
  9. ^ a b Sutarni, Sri. Bahasa Indonesia 2 - SMA Kelas XI (in Indonesian). Yudhistira Ghalia Indonesia. p. 128. ISBN 978-602-8184-88-5. Retrieved 1 August 2010.
  10. ^ Villa Isola,
  11. ^ W. Wibisono (28 March 2004). "Villa Isola, Monumen dalam Arsitektur (Villa Isola, Monument in Architecture)". Kompas (in Indonesian).
  12. ^ Villa Isola in Bandung by Charles Prosper Wolff Schoemaker Archived 29 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine, Best House Design, 17 November 2008. Last updated on 25 July 2010, 07:37:43 GMT. "Interior of the first floor consists of a lobby with a twisted staircase to the second floor, and a family room. A large window in a half-circled curve shape decorates the family room completed with an open balcony and steel bars."
  13. ^ Op zoek naar de tropenstijl, Leven en werk van prof. ir. C.P. Wolff Schoemaker, Indisch architect
  14. ^ "Menelusuri Jejak Karya Schoemaker; sang Arsitek Bandung" (in Indonesian). Institut Teknologi Bandung. Retrieved 31 July 2010. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)

Further reading

  • Jan van Dullemen: Tropical Modernity: Life and Work of C.P. Wolff Schoemaker, ISBN 978-90-8506-879-2, SUN architecture, 2010

External links

  • Bethel Church – Visual Database of Modern Dutch Tropical Architecture in Indonesia
  • Villa Isola
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