Interesting facts about Indonesian architecture. How do people live in this country?

Interesting facts about Indonesian architecture. How do people live in this country?

Indonesian architecture vividly reflects the diverse cultural and historical events that have shaped the nation. Invaders, colonists, missionaries, traders and merchants have all left their distinct marks. Throughout Indonesia, one can discover a myriad of traditional houses, each belonging to hundreds of ethnic groups, with its unique history. Today, with the development of the economy and tourism, the real estate sector in the country is expanding. However, local housing complexes maintain their distinct characteristics. In this article, we’ll delve into the uniqueness of Indonesian architecture and explore modern solutions.


Traditional Indonesian architecture

One of the most renowned types of traditional houses in Indonesia is the "Rumah Adat", which translates to "ordinary house" in the local language. Constructed using natural materials like bamboo, wood and straw, Rumah Adat is known for its environmentally friendly architecture.

The design of Rumah Adat varies depending on the region and the cultural heritage of the local people; however, certain features are common. One notable feature is the steeply pitched roof, often covered with palm leaves or grass. This not only gives the houses their distinctive appearance but also offers reliable protection from the tropical rain and sun.

Another prevalent feature of Rumah Adat is the raised floor supported by wooden pillars. This design facilitates improved air circulation, a crucial consideration in the country's hot and humid climate.

Beyond their practical functions, Rumah Adat is adorned with numerous decorative elements that reveal the local culture and beliefs. Carvings on wooden beams and columns often depict mythical creatures or stories from folklore. The use of bright colours and intricate patterns is also widespread in decorating these houses.

Interesting facts about Indonesian architecture. How do people live in this country?

Bolon House, North Sumatra

This traditional house, also known as Gorga House, stands as a heritage of the Batak people in North Sumatra. The Bolon House is constructed from logs, featuring a steep sloping roof and wooden pillars.

These structures hold not only architectural and design value but also serve as symbolic places where the history and traditions of the Batak people are passed down and preserved. They stand as poignant reminders of the rich heritage and cultural legacy of this region.

Gadang, West Sumatra

The Gadang house, meaning "big house", is an integral part of the heritage of the Minangkabau people in West Sumatra. Also known as Bagondang House or Baanjung House, these traditional structures are renowned for their unique roofs resembling buffalo horns.

The number of rooms inside the Gadang house is typically odd and correlates with the number of women in the family, which can range from 3 to 11. This is a reflection of the unique Minangkabau culture, where inheritance follows the female line.

The facade of the Gadang house is adorned with carvings featuring plants, flowers, fruits and geometric figures.

Joglo, Central Java

This traditional house is a representation of Javanese culture. The Joglo house boasts several distinctive features:

  • Pyramidal tiled roof
  • Spacious terrace
  • 3 exterior doors

The name Joglo is derived from the words "Tajug Loro" (South), signifying "two mountains", carrying sacred significance in Javanese philosophy.

Typically, these houses have four main columns called "saka-guru", symbolising stability and strength.

From a philosophical standpoint, the Joglo terrace is designed to foster relationships with neighbours and strengthen community ties. The exterior doors reflect the harmony and hospitality of the house's inhabitants.

A typical Joglo comprises eight rooms, each serving a specific purpose and addressing various family needs, such as bedrooms, living rooms or areas for rituals.

Bale Sanekem, Bali

A traditional Balinese house typically comprises several distinct parts, each serving a specific function:

  • Angkul-Angkul - the main entrance of the house;
  • Aling-Aling - the partition between Angkul-Angkul and the courtyard;
  • Sanga - a private place of worship for the entire family;
  • Main building Bale-Manten - the residence of the head of the family and his wife;
  • Bale-Sakenem - a place for ceremonies;
  • Bale-Dauh - an area for receiving guests;
  • Bale-Sakapat - a room for family gatherings;
  • Pawaregen - the kitchen.

There’s also a designated area for storing the family's grain supply.

Each of these rooms is an integral part of traditional Balinese culture and the way of life.

Tongkonan, South Sulawesi

The Tongkonan house, belonging to the Toraja people of South Sulawesi, is known for its boat-shaped roof. To give it special significance, the building is often adorned with four primary colours: red, yellow, white and black. Such dwellings are frequently decorated with buffalo heads, symbolising power and strength. The presence of chicken heads and dragon sculptures adds a mystical atmosphere characteristic of the Tongkonan house.

Interesting facts about Indonesian architecture. How do people live in this country?

Other traditional houses of Indonesia's peoples

It’s worth noting the traditional houses of the Dayak people of West Kalimantan. These structures are typically around 300 metres long and accommodate about 60 families. Constructed with sturdy wood and ironwood (ulin), each family resides in rooms scattered throughout the house. Equally fascinating are the traditional houses of the Sasak people in West Nusa Tenggara, crafted from bamboo, thatch, reeds and wood.

Uma Keladu houses can be found on the island of Sumba in East Nusa Tenggara. Characterised by high thatched roofs, the foundation is mainly made of bamboo. These houses lack windows, allowing light and air to filter through small gaps between the bamboo canes.

Modern architectural solutions

One of the key concepts in modern Balinese architecture is the pursuit of harmony with the environment. Consequently, construction often incorporates bamboo structures, clay, stone and brick. Private homes typically feature high roofs and large windows to maximise natural light. In urban development, modern apartment complexes play a significant role, often comprising multi-storey buildings or clusters of several blocks. These complexes are equipped with advanced security systems and communication facilities. They include:

  • Parking lots;
  • Sports facilities;
  • Swimming pools;
  • Gyms;
  • Children's play areas;
  • Recreational areas and gardens.

Commercial areas, featuring shops, restaurants and office spaces, are often situated around the perimeter of residential complexes.

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