Henri Maclaine Pont (1884-1971)

Pont architecture background concept is different with Schoemaker and Ghijsel , though they studied basic of architecture in Holland. Pont works are relatively less than Schoemaker and Ghijsel. Pont is famous was not because of his real works but for his Indies architecture.

His Indies idea is linear with his colleague Thomas Karsten. He was often involved in polemic with Schoemaker around Indies architecture idea.

Pont was born on 21 June 1884, in Meester Coenelis, Jatinegara-Batavia. His family had been in East Indies for 5 generations. In 1893, when he was 9 years old, Pont returned to Holland with his family for his elementary education. In 1902, he went to Technical School in Delf. He was graduated in 1909, and worked as architect assistant in Holalnd. He returned in Java in 1911 with his uncle, Henri de Vogel, an official in railway “Semarang-Cheribon Stoomtram Maatschappij’ in Tegal. Later he designed the quarter of railway in Tegal, as his first work in East Indies. Though his work had not shown local architecture, but his sensitivity of local climate and the use of raw material, his sensitivity of of local technology were the early phase of his love of local architecture.

The train station location was located on the west part of Tegal city square, and this added his knowledge and perception toward Javanese architectural plan. In 1913, Pont decided to stay in Semarang. He opened his first architect office and there lots of project came for him. He did various projects from houses on the West Semarang, planning and development of South Semarang, the extension of  of Darmo area in Surabaya, sugar factory stores in tegal, Cirebon and Cilacap, and so on. He later asked his friend in Holland Thomas Karsten to assist him in Semarang.

Between 1913-1915 on Sunday and holiday, he used his day to visit regions having rich of past remains as temples in Central Java and remains of Majapahit Empire in Trowulan Mojokerto. His visits to those places influenced his life and architecture concept. Pont was busy with his various activities and later he returned to Holland for health reason. In 1916, his office was submitted to his colleagues, Karsten, Lutjens, Seenstra and Toussaint.

After few years in Holland, on 1918, Pont received an invitation to design the first Technical School in East Indies, in Bandung (currently ITB). Pont was chosen as he was considered as an architect who comprehended local traditional design, one of the new building design criterion. The result was a combination of architecture of modern structure of plywood.  with harmonious traditional architecture roof. For years Pont work had been as one of successful modern-traditional architecture masterpieces. In 1921 to 1924, Pont worked in one of Health Deptof East Indies. In 1924, Pont was assigned to design housing complex for company employees of Oos Java Stoomtram in Surabaya. On this opportunity, he visited Trowulan, considered as the former of Majapahit Empire capital in the past.  After finishing his assignment in govt in 1924, Pont decided to stay in Trowulan. For his will and support of Prof FDK Bosch, Pont made effort to reconstruct that former capital of Majapahit.

In those years he wrote about Javanese architecture that are still used as reference for Javanese architecture writers. Between 1924-1943, Pont put his time and effort for the former capital of Majapahit.  One of his popular work on that period was Catholic church designed in 1936.

Between 1943-1945, Pont became internee’s of Japanese. After the end of 2nd World War II, he was invited to be professor of architecture in ITB, where its building was designed by him 25 years ago. His health was deteriorating that he had to be cared in Brisbane Australia. In 1946, his health recovered, and he returned to Indonesia, but in that period every Dutch officials and authority had been replaced by Indonesian.  He later returned to Holland and on September 1946. In 1971, Pont died in Holland.

Helen Jessep said “Henri Maclaine Pont perhaps travelled further down the road of identification
with Java than almost any other Dutchman …..”. Here are few importants Pont’s works:
1. Tegal Railway Station 1911.
2. Sekolah Tinggi Teknik Bandung in 1918
3. Pohsarang Church, Kediri, 1936
Pont’s works after 1920s had certain direction. He wanted to identified his design by Nisantara traditional architecture, especially Javanese style. His knowledge about local architecture is shown by his writings. Puhsarang church is one of evidences of his in depth approach about Indonesia tradition mixed with modern architecture. This can be seen from its rooms, construction system formation and the use of local materials. Entirely, Niuewe Kunst style from Holland influenced  which was emerged in Holland when Pont studied in 1900s where Berlage was one of its pioneers.