Braga, Traces from The Past
Braga is one of the oldest streets in Bandung. The shop houses and restaurant along the streets are mostly around a hundred years old.
Those buildings are the actual evidence of the heyday Netherlands-Indie period, and especially in this case, a living museum of architecture style showcase : classic-romantic, art deco, Indo-European, and eclectic style could be well observed here along the street of Braga.
It was regulated then, under supervision of experts from the Municipality Bandung - Ir. JP Thysse and Ir. EH de Roo, that every single shop house on Braga, should be designed in a proper Western style of architecture. They soon realized that they faced different context of a tropical climate country which wasn't the case of Europe as a source of Western architecture.
It was then Prof Dr Ir CP Mom came out with the brilliant idea to adapt with the constraints of building in tropical area. Building is designed with the unpartitioned largest floor area possible, high ceiling, and thick wall. Marble is a suggested floor material that it was cool during hot daytime. For proper air ventilation, holes are made above glass windows that accomodate the crossing of air the whole time.
On the early of the 19th century, Braga was a muddy street during rainy season, and a dusty one during dry season. It was due to the fact that this street was mainly the route for buffalo drawed charts, loaded with natural crops, from villages to the storage house the 'Koffie Pakhuis', it was called Karrenweg or Pedatiweg meaning chart street.
The place where the 'Koffie Pakhuis' used to be was then used as the office of Municipality Bandung, until now. And about the name Bragaweg (Braga street) used after 18 June 1882 to replace the name Karrenweg. It's strongly assumed that the name Braga derived from a group of tonil performance 'Braga', established by Residence Assistant of Bandung, Pieter Sijthoff.
Not after the late of 19th century, were the shophouses along the street no more than mere kiosks.
The two buildings express an explicit blending of Western and Indonesia style. On both's facade design, a typical ornamentation of Kala's head (giant's head - a certain ornamentation widely used in Java tradition ) was become a strong articulation.
On the crossroad of Bragastreet and Naripanstreet, the architect AF Aalbers left his mark by the design of Dennis (De Eerste Nederlands Indie Spaarbank) Building. He used the curvilinear type of form, expressing the building in a strong art deco style. The most recognizable characteristics of this building is its high tower, nicely fitted on the junction of the building's middle corner. This L shaped building was designed in a sensitive manner as it was receededly fixed as if it was to contain the spacious feeling of the foursquare in front.
A research on 1979 by Prof Djoko Sujarto from Bandung Institute of Technology, showed that from 250 respondences only 11 % regards Braga as a shopping area. The rest regard it as a leisure area (24.5 %), sight seeing (33.5 %), or just a place they pass through (31 %).
It was a dramatic contrast comparing to its heyday. Braga was then the place where people from upper economic class fulfil they necessity. For quality fabric, there was Orderling Belang store (where Sarinah store is now located). Braga with its exclusive atmosphere was also the place where people spend leisure time doing window shopping along the street, that the term 'Bragaderen' (do Braga) was born.
Back to Braga as a leisure area, for those who were long for good apetite and liquors, this was the place where one could best satisfied their taste. To name the places : Firma Kuyi en Vesteeg, Maison Boin, and Het Snoephuis - all were famous restaurants and bakeries.
But the most well known was Maison Bogerijn, which has now been renovated into a different shape - Braga Permai Restaurant.Ideas and suggestions have long been discussed on how to revive the 'treasure' of Braga. It is a big question thus to ask of how and when we're gonna really start to do it in practice ?
Kompas, April 2000