Semarang Tawang Station

Semarang Tawang Station is one of the big oldest stations in Indonesia. It was inaugurated on June 1, 1914, was laying the first stone by its management company Netherland Indische Spoorweg maatschappij (NIS) in 1911 under the architect Sloth-Blauwboer which became the building design that can be seen until this very moment. As the station being prepared as the door for incoming quests, Tawang Station was designed as an elegant building in the form of Indische architectural style with wide-saddle roof combined with arch at the main Hall in Romanticism style which was very popular in Europe at that time prepared for the celebration of 100 years of Netherland independence from Spain (Tentoonstelling).

During the initial operation of the railway, there was no any railway line connecting Semarang Tawang and Semarang Poncol stations, both of which were the last station destinations or ‘Kopstation’. The Semarang Poncol station provided the trains heading from/to west (Cirebon), while the Semarang Tawang station from/to east (Solo and Yogyakarta). This was because Semarang Tawang and Semarang Poncol stations were owned by different railway companies, the NIS and SCS (Semarang-Cheribon Stoomtram Maatschappij) respectively. Due to separate railway line connection, each of them has their own stations. This condition made both train passengers and freights difficult travel by railway transportation. Fortunately, at the beginning of the Japanese occupancy in Indonesia in 1942/1943, Semarang Tawang and Semarang Poncol stations were eventually connected. At the same time, the NIS and SCS were merged under supervision of Japanese government in Indonesia.

The building forms symmetrical silhouette with the main building located at the centre which has high arch roof as the focal point and the building wings at the left and right sides which are dominated by red saddle tiled roof with roof openings as a variation. That symmetrical building was one of the characteristics of colonial architecture as the combination between popular designed-style in Europe by adapting local tropical climate by using saddle roof with many openings for ventilation.

There were not many ornaments found in the building because Romanticism architectural style was very popular in Europe at the beginning of 20th century emphasizing on composition and proportion of line elements and opening areas as the building ornaments. The opening areas composition at the solid wall together with arch roof composed this renowned building.

The rooms at Tawang Station building were composed linearly with the main entrance in the middle orientation. The room under the cube was a vestibule or hall with high ceiling. The arch roof formed squared ceiling provides top light which accentuated the glorious impression of the room. Four main columns which supported the arch roof at a glance look alike the middle part of pendapa joglo. The part is ornamented by four decorated lights with long glass windows surrounding the top building.

The most prominent ornaments at Tawang Station building are the main doors, windows, and top curved-ventilation which are stressed by arch-frame constructions with tile stone masonry at the top edge. Molding of cement and ceramic is ended the tip of arch masonry, Different colors and materials of the opening elements (doors, windows, and ventilation) are the ornaments which beautified the architecture of Tawang Station. Cornice in the form of balustrade as leveled border fence above the doors emphasized the end of the top composition.

The right wing is the first class waiting room, the head of station room, signal room, and the operational rooms. The left wing is the second and third class waiting rooms which at the colonial time were devoted to indigenous people. The rooms are line up alongside the concourse formed the one-sided station model with the train and platform parallel to the station building. Platform and train are covered by long saddle roof on the same level with steel- framed structure and waved-tin covered.

As the finishing touch, almost all of the in-side walls are dominated by white color and decorated by brown copper. According to research done by historical architects, basic building materials of this station at the time it was constructed came from cement-layered of red tile and limestone by using simple lime-paint.

However, because of the rapid development of the Semarang City and the improper city planning for the Semarang City as a coastal city, then Semarang Tawang station frequently gets flooded when hard rain comes or the sea level rises. Besides the heavy three-day rainfall in a row and high tide in Java Sea, the flood is brought about by the loss of catchment areas in the north of the station. Bogs which previously made up the northern parts of the station now turn to residential areas. Flood is the main problem that Tawang station has to cope with, not to mention a heap of waste in the eastern part of the station. These problems make the operation of the railway on the north route run unwell. In order to solve the problems, the railway company authority decides to heighten the station building floor. Thus, the height of the entire building decreases by 1.5 meters. In addition, the railway line is heightened.

  Copyright © 2010 - Conservation and Heritage Center, Indonesian Railways
Photo's Courtesy KITLV, The Netherlands