The Colomadu was the first sugar factory in Indonesia since 1861 during the Dutch colonial era in Surakarta, Central Java, Indonesia. The Colomadu located in the midst of sugar cane fields. However, there was government policy and land leasing issue, it reduced sugar cane field gradually and vanished eventually. In 1997, the production is halted because the operator fell in bankruptcy. Then, The Colomadu site was utilized as art performances and exhibitions. It was well-known as a place for local artisan and other communities to gather.
In 2016, the Ministry of State Owned Enterprises has planned to revive The Colomadu since they were rebuilding and auditing their assets. By having known the sugar cane fields has vanished, rebuild the sugar factory seemed not a good idea. Thus, it comes to an idea by reprogramming the whole site into something different is a must for The Colomadu to operate again. A state owned company is assigned as care taker in order to revitalize The Colomadu. Then, Airmas Asri Architects is appointed as main architects to handle The Colomadu master plan from the beginning until its done.
The Colomadu received criticism and reaction from society due to cultural and historical value degradation since it was a pioneer of private owned sugar factory during colonial era. Moreover, there has been art events as a tool from non-governments organization that used to criticize The Colomadu. Therefore, it is caught public attention about these abandoned sugar factory issue.
Revitalization is the major design strategy for The Colomadu. Preservation and addition on non intrusive part to the existing building are planned to make the factory embraces with the new function. Besides, in terms of local context, Surakarta and Karanganyar cannot be separated from its home industry of hand-drawn and traditional print batik, megaliths and stone temples. It is known as a grass rooted Javanese culture and people. By knowing these facts, it is prioritized as embedded concept to bring back the abandoned site to face the future.
The Colomadu is planned as a cultural and art center to fill the abandoned factory. Nevertheless, the building had to comply several requirements since it is categorized as a historical building. It took 6 months to complete the preliminary procedures such as planning, identification, historical document research and structural evaluations. Then, it followed by concert hall and the main programs construction.
One of the biggest consideration in The Colomadu is a lot of historical artifacts need to be preserved. Unfortunately, there are many artifacts that corroded and quite dangerous when shown to public. Further researches and analysis has been done by architects to save the artifacts' value and history. It is traced from the serial number, old photos and historical articles in order to preserve the artifacts before it shown to public.
The Colomadu has faced several architectural problems also in the past. The building brick facade has been replaced several times due to quality issues when the sugar factory still operated. The Colomadu also got structural failure on several sections of the building. Several actions has been taken to save the building. Some sections has been demolished and the addition is taken to fit with old physical building. Fortunately, other parts of the building still survive, hence, retrofit and refurbish are still possible. Windows, doors, awnings, roofs and gutters are retrofitted. Meanwhile, food center, restaurants, exhibition hall and concert hall are refurbished.
Some new facades section use glass-wall in order to give connection between inside and outside experiences for the visitor. In addition, it exposes the giant machinery as a night time exhibition display. The main steam kettle is shown as a display as its structure is embedded to the main chimney. It is transformed to a restaurant with the kettle's cover. So, it integrates the new restaurants concept and historical value in The Colomadu.