Since the sixteenth century, West Sumatra and particularly its capital, Padang, has been a major trade center, serving as hub for the pepper, gold, coffee, salt, and textile industries. Years of Dutch and British rule have made the architecture of the city an amalgamation of vernacular and colonial styles.
On September 30, 2009, an earthquake measuring 8.7 on the Richter scale devastated the area. A rapid assessment by the Indonesia Heritage Trust included a survey of 244 historic buildings. Of these, only 16 survived undamaged; nearly half suffered major damage, requiring significant conservation interventions. The Indonesia Heritage Trust prioritized seven heritage sites in need of urgent action. Among these were the seventeenth-century Lubuk Bareh Mosque, the early twentieth-century St. Leo Church, and the Padang Old Town Quarter.
How We Helped
A partnership developed in 2010 between WMF, the Netherlands-based Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development, and the Indonesia Heritage Trust resulted in assistance for earthquake-stricken historic sites of Padang. Built in 1903, St. Leo Church is a unique example of Gothic revival in Sumatra and the last known remaining neo-Gothic building on the island. The Lubuk Bareh Mosque represents a unique architectural style that combines local design with regional and Islamic influences. Both suffered severe structural damage as a result of the earthquake, and through this collaboration both were restored and seismically strengthened. To assist building owners throughout the Padang Old Town Quarter, which is home to a range of historic architectural styles and forms, a manual, Guidelines for Managing Post-Disaster Conservation of Heritage Buildings, was developed to serve as a guidebook for emergency repair, restoration and reconstruction, and preventive maintenance.
Why It Matters
Severe earthquakes are a common feature in West Sumatra, which is located in the so-called “Ring of Fire.” In addition to earthquakes, this region faces volcano eruptions, floods, and tsunamis, each having the potential to cause massive destruction to cultural heritage. The Lubuk Bareh Mosque and the St. Leo Church served as important model projects in the disaster recovery process, as both of these structures play an important role for the community as a place for worship and gathering, and the latter housing a community of 50 nuns and an elementary school. Likewise, the Guidelines for Managing Post-Disaster Conservation of Heritage Buildings are an important tool for engaging building owners throughout the Old Town district in the preservation and revitalization process. By building awareness and sharing knowledge about heritage conservation, it is hoped that this manual will also improve future disaster preparedness.