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Vernacular Architecture Report

V

ERNACULAR RCHITECTURE

RAKTIM DEBNATH 25/10 DIVAKAR JHA 39/10

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Vernacular Architecture Report

CONTENTS Introduction Vernacular Architecture..........................................................................................4 Objective Of Study...........................................................................................................................5 Introduction To Malaysian Vernacular Architecture..................................................................6 Factors Influencing Vernacular Architecture...............................................................................8 Design Analysis................................................................................................................................15 Site Planning House Planning And Individual Spaces

Elements In The Malay House.......................................................................................................22 Foundations Walls And Openings Roofs Drainage Devices To Ensure Thermal Comfort

Lessons For Contemporary Architecture.....................................................................................36 Case Studies......................................................................................................................................41

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Vernacular Architecture Report

INTRODUCTION VERNACULAR ARCHITECTURE Vernacular Architecture as

defined by some of the scholars as an architecture without architects in broader term is defined as a categoryof architecture based on localized needs and construction materials, and reflecting local traditions.Vernacular architecture tends to evolve over time to reflect the cultural, technological, the environmental, and historical context in which it exists. It has often been dismissed as crude and unrefined, but alsohas proponents who highlight its importance in current design. Ronald Brunskill has defined the ultimate in vernacular architecture as: ...a building designed by an amateur without any training in design; the individual will have been guided by a series of conventions built up in his locality, paying little attention to what may be fashionable. The function of the building would be the dominant factor, aesthetic considerations, though present to some small degree, being quite minimal. Local materials would be used as a matter of course, other materials being chosen and imported quite exceptionally.

Characteristics:

The recognition of Vernacular Architecture as part of the cultural heritage has increased worldwide in the last years. There is great interest for the conservation and protection of Vernacular Architecture, but it is not possible to protect it without the understanding of the qualities that make these exposed and fragile constructions our cultural heritage. Universally, Vernacular Architecture is understood as how a community answers to its cultural, physical and economic environment.

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Architecture that evolves in function of cultural, social, economic and material changes; an architecture in which the structures, the forms, the building materials are determined by the climate, the geology, the geography, the economics and the local culture. Some Vernacular Architecture characteristics are: local labour, craftsmanship, local materials, application of non-professional knowledge based on experience, capacity of adaptation to cultural and environmental changes. The diversity of cultural expressions that are the essence of the Vernacular Architecture does not make the evaluation of its authenticity an easy matter. The Vernacular Architecture does not follow a unique typology but represents the expression of each community. It will be impossible to understand handmade architecture without knowing the cultural roots of the creating hands. We cannot study the monument in an isolated way, nor restore it or conserve it. The authenticity in VernacularArchitecturehas an abstract value for it is the sensibility and simplicity of a group that creates and transforms the space to develop its daily life. The authenticity in Vernacular Architecture not only refers to the meaning of original or genuine, but also the meaning of artistic creativity of forms and volumes while defining a space. It refers to the honesty of being what it is, without trying to represent something it is not


Vernacular Architecture Report

Tradition:

Many of the traditions that have existed or continue to exist were formed out of the necessity to explain unknown events. It is man’s nature to never be satisfied by his surroundings and the current status quo. Because of this, we have always strived to seek new knowledge and technology. There is an ever present need for us to somehow better our lives and to justify “progress” with the self-righteous notion that we’re improving the lives of future generations. This has progressively obliterated many of the traditions that explained unknown phenomenon by demystifying them through the use of modern science and knowledge. While this is generally seen as positive by the intellectual society (justified by more self-righteous notions) it is at the same time denying future generations a sense of tradition. This sense of tradition is immensely important because it bestows upon us a sense of history and genesis. In addition, it gives a sense of belonging and ancestral heritage.

Material:

For the most part, vernacular architecture has always been dependent on the availability of local building materials to construct homes. There was a symbiotic relationship between the use of local materials which could easily be obtained, and local craftsman that knew how to skilfully use local materials to build architecture. The local craftsman knew how to turn these raw materials into buildings and knew the structural limitations of what they were building with. In addition, they could effectively predict how these materials would weather and how to optimally build with these materials.

OBJECTIVE The objective of the report is to view the presence of Malaysian vernacular architecture as a strong sub current of praxis in Malaysia. Malay, the natives of Malaysia have highly developed and vernacular architecture though the material used in the vernacular architecture of Malaysia is also used in the vernacular architecture of many other subtropical countries. The way these people have developed their design in their Malay house which greatly responds to the climatic, cultural/social, materials aspects and last but not the least the safety which is ensured by the height of the baseof the structure, from the problems of flood and the crawling reptile’s is highly commendable.

More than eighty per cent of the Malaysian people live in the Malaysian peninsula and the majority of these people lives in the Malay House. The Malay house is subtle and functional, with the only apparent aesthetic considerations given tote wood carvings and other embellishments of the house. The design of the Malay house allows for the flexible expansion of the house when the family grows in size and prosperity or when there is a desire for a more comprehensive dwelling space. These extensions follow a sophisticated system of principles that integrate and grow with the core house. The design of the Malay house allows for the flexible expansion of the house when the family grows in size

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Vernacular Architecture Report and prosperity or when there is a desire for a more comprehensive dwelling space. These extensions follow a sophisticated system of principles that integrate and grow with the core house. The house is divided into three main areas, the ‘serambi’ (verandah), ‘rumahibu’ (main house) and ‘dapur’ (kitchen). To separate the area, one slight floor level changes or doorways have been made between the areas. Besides the three main areas, some of the houses have the ‘anjung’ and passageway. The ‘anjung’ is a covered porch where used

as a relax area for family members or guest. A passageway known as the ‘selang’ links the main house to the kitchen and provides an effective firebreak between the areas in the house Winston Churchill once said “First we shape our dwellings and afterwards our dwellings shape us” and it can be clearly understood by studying vernacular architecture of Malaysia.

INTRODUCTION TO MALAYSIAN VERNACULAR ARCHITECTURE accurate definition either because the differences The Malay house What is meant by a Malay house? The word ‘Malay’ itself does not have any one meaning. 1. In Malaysia, Malay, as defined in the constitution, is ‘a person who professes the Muslim religion, speaks the Malay language, conforms to Malay customs ‘.~ To describe a house as Malay because it is designed, built, owned or inhabited by Malays, is inaccurate because one may find non-Malays designing, building, owning and even inhabiting Malay houses. 2. The word ‘Malay’ may also mean ‘member of a light brown people of mixed Caucasian and Mongolian stock predominating in the Malay Peninsula and Archipelago’. 3. If Malay houses are those found in the Peninsula and Archipelago, this is not an

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between Minangkabau, Batak and kamthieng houses, for instance, are substantial. 4. Even within the Malay Peninsula, there are distinct differences between houses in, for example, Kelantan, Negeri Sembilan and Malacca. Thus it would be a futile effort for one to attempt to give the Malay house any single definition. Instead, it would be helpful to give a visual idea of the variety of the indigenous houses for one’s own in terpretation. Design of the building always reflects people perspectives of the building for rnacular house, which designed with a deep understanding and respect for nature. The vernacular house of Malays known as Traditional Malay house evolved along different lines in the various regions and states. Each state has main characteristic, which vary from state to state. The evolution of the


Vernacular Architecture Report

architectural design of Traditional Malay house must have derived from several influences such as migration and trade. Besides that, cultural, environmental needs, socioeconomic and religion was the big factor, which influenced the design too. These houses are well adapted to the hot tropical climate in which they are found and provide an excellent example of appropriate technology. Built mostly of timber, Traditional Malay house generally look like a same. Most of the house used local timber such as Cengal, Meranti, DamarLaut and Petaling. Looking to the forms and shapes of traditional dwellings we can find that the three elements that distinguish, at a glance. Basic design of the Malay house is the stilts on which it stands its open plan and its pitched roof. Generally the house is same in function but different in design. Most of them offer the near perfect solutions to accommodating Malaysia’s tropical climate, but they incorporate flexibility in the design and use of space. These houses are well adapted to the hot tropical climate in which they are found and provide an excellent example of appropriate technology. They are easy to construct, simple to maintain and are mostly built from local materials that are cheap to source. They are also well adapted to the climate as they are built on stilts to allow the free flow of air underneath to keep them cool.

There are few internal walls to enable this free flow of air and large windows that can be opened or closed to enable air and light to enter as required. They are built with stilts below and they have large windows. This is mainly to keep the building cool and the stilts elevate the building to keep them away from floods. Kampong houses are detached houses and they usually have no fences around them the traditional Malaysian house serves the housing needs of the majority of people living in rural areas of Malaysia. It was evolved by the Malays over the generations, and adapted to their own needs, culture, and environment. Basically a timber house with a post and lintel structure raised on stilts, with wooden, bamboo, or thatched walls and a thatched roof, the house is designed to suit the tropical climate. The traditional Malaysian housing process is highly autonomous, largely controlled by the user. Guided by building tradition and the village carpenter, the owner-builder designs a house that is uniquely suited to the family’s socioeconomic and cultural situation. Not only does the traditional approach foster a better match of house to user, it keeps the cost down by eliminating the need for professional intermediaries such as architects or developers.

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Vernacular Architecture Report

FACTORS INFLUENCING VERNACULAR ARCHITECTURE Peninsular Malaysia (Malay: Semenanjung Malaysia), also known as West Malaysia (formerly Malaya), is the part of Malaysia which lies on the Malay Peninsula. Its area is 131,598 square kilometres (50,810 sq mi). It shares a land border with Thailand in the north. To the south is the island of Singapore. Across the Strait of Malacca to the west lies the island of Sumatra. East Malaysia (on the island of Borneo) is to the east across the South China Sea. With an estimated population of 21 million, it accounts for the majority (roughly 80%) of Malaysia’s population and economy. The Titiwangsa Mountains are part of the Tenasserim Hills system, and form the backbone of the Peninsula. They form the southernmost section of the central cordillera which runs from Tibet through the Kra Isthmus (the Peninsula’s narrowest point) into the Malay Peninsula. The Strait of Malaccaseparates the Malay Peninsula from the Indonesian island of Sumatra while the south coast is separated from the island of Singapore by the Straits of Johor. The Malay term Tanah Melayu (literally: ‘The Malay Land’) is generally used by the Malays and occasionally used in political discourse to describe uniting all ethnic Malay people on the peninsula under one Malay nation, although this ambition was largely realised with the creation of

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Malaysia. Factors influencing vernacular architecture of Malaysia:

Cultural/social factors:

The culture of Malaysia draws on the varied cultures of the different people of Malaysia. The first people to live in the area were indigenous tribes that still remain; they were followed by the Malays, who moved there from mainland Asia in ancient times. Chinese and Indian cultural influences made their mark when trade began with those countries, and increased with immigration to Malaysia. Other cultures that heavily influenced that of Malaysia include Persian, Arabic, and British. The many different ethnicities that currently exist in Malaysia have their own unique and distinctive cultural identities, with some crossover. Cuisine is often divided along ethnic lines, but some dishes exist which have mixed foods from different ethnicities. Each major religious group has its major holy days declared as official holidays. However, the Malaysian culture is mainly dominated by Malay people who are the followers of Islam and as such their vernacular architecture is also influenced by their religious point of view.


Vernacular Architecture Report In the Malay culture building such as houses and palaces that are highly handcrafted and decorated reflects the building owners’ high sense of living. As Muslims Malay have oriented their mosque in the direction of mecca and also in their houses where prayer halls are oriented towards Mecca. In other cases, some of the Malay houses have different levels indicating the room functions. For instance the verandah floor is raised lower than the living room floor, this is not only indicating the room function but also giving the sense of special transition in the building. The core area of the house is called the rumah ibu. This high-roofed section is the family’s main private space open only to them and very close personal household friends. This is where the family sleeps but it also serves a more public purpose when an important family ceremony or function such as a family wedding is being held. In the construction of this part of the house, a gold coin and piece of fabric maybe placed at the top of the main pillar, the tiangseri, to protect the household. Shoes are removed at the front door and family members and their guests normally sit inside on the floor on woven mats. Interestingly, windows are often long and narrow and almost at floor level so that those inside can see the outside world from their seated position.

Customary Code of Conduct (AdatResam)

Many of the beliefs and some of the cultural practices of the Malays have developed as a result of the inter-mingling of cultures, and the religious experiences of the Malays over the last two thousand years or so. Within a Malay household that continues to maintain the traditional code of conduct inherited from the past, the children or younger persons Traditionally this code of conduct extends beyond the family to recognise certain relationships between families in the same neighbourhood or kampung. It is customary for, instance, to welcome a new family or a newcomer, to make a social visit to the new household, and to render any assistance that may be needed. Again similar concern or involvement, in the spirit of mutual help (gotongroyong) manifests itself when someone in the neighbourhood is ill, when a child is born or in the event that someone dies. On a very simple level these occasions require at least a visit. Where

necessary material assistance may be rendered, particularly during a wedding, as a means of lightening the burden upon a family that is not very well off. Congregations, common in Muslim communities both in the villages as well as in the towns and cities, serve as a means of social cohesion. The major congregation is the all-important Friday (Jumaat) prayer, which apart from its religious significance also becomes an occasion to meet others from the same kampung or neighbourhood--since generally, a kampung dweller prays in the mosque nearest to his home--and possibly, these days, those from further away. This also applies to the five daily prayers which, according to Islamic teaching, have greater merit when offered in congregation. While visiting the mosque for daily prayers, the less formal style is used, and a white skull cap (kepiah) may take the place of the songkok. Older men and those who have performed the pilgrimage to Mecca may wear a turban (serban).

Visiting Someone

Traditionally Malay houses in the villages (kampung), mainly constructed of wood and thatched palm-leaves (attap) were built on stilts. This was to ensure safety from floods as well as the insencts, snakes and animals, some possibly wild ones in the vicinity of the kampung. Certain customary practices designed for such a situation, however, have been carried on even amongst the Malays now living in apartments or bungalows in Malaysia’s main towns and cities as result of changing economic and other circumstances. This is best illustrated in the manner in which visitors are expect to behave and in the manner in which they are received at a kampung house. When someone visits a Malay house it has traditionally been regarded as good manners and in keeping with the adat, to stop on the open ground at the bottom of the steps leading to the landing of a kampung house. From this point the visitor greets the occupants of the house or announces his or her presence. Usually the Islamic manner of greeting “AssalamuAlaikum” (Peace be upon you) is uttered loudly enough for the occupants of the house to hear. The formula may be repeated in the absence of immediate response. Someone from the house will generally reply to this formula of greeting with the words “WaAlaikum Salaam”, (Upon you too be Peace) possibly before the door is even opened, for it may in fact take a while for the responding person to in fact make his or her

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Vernacular Architecture Report appearance at the door. In modern houses the same practices are observed, but with certain modifications. A person, for instance, will call the householder from the gate of a house, or ring the door bell, but in either case the greeting, AssalamuAlaikum” is never omitted. Children are trained from a very early age to call this greeting each time they enter a house, even their own. Theoretically, this should also be done by adults according both to Islam and the cultural practice of the Malays. In the event that the visitor is not a Muslim, he or she will call out the word ”Encik..” or Tuan meaning mister, Datuk, or Tuan Haji or by some other suitable title. If someone already knows the person in the house, the full name such as .EncikKhalid, or PuanRogayah may be used. The title used to call such persons from a household, will of course depend upon the age and status of the visitor too. For instance if the visitor is a young person, he may call the occupations by using the terms “uncle” or “aunt” in Malay. There are in fact many different ways and many different terms that come into use in this situation depending upon the identity of the person being called and that of the visitor, in addition to the differences in status as well as age.

Footwear to be left outside

The visitor, acknowledged and perhaps recognised, is then invited to go up the stairs to the landing of the house. Footwear must be removed and left outside before going up the landing or, in the case of modern houses, before entering a house. Muslims are generally very particular about cleanliness, and therefore it considered best to leave shoes outside the house upon entry for they are likely to bring with them all manner of filth. Most Muslims do not wear footwear in the house. Often common areas of the house, such as the living room, are used for group prayers. Besides this many Muslims actually prefer to sit on the floor instead of sitting on chairs in informal situation. Meals are often eaten sitting on the floor. Much of this culture, therefore comes to the Malays from the Islamic tradition. For all these reasons the house has to be completely clean.

Shaking Hands

The host may shake hands with the guest using both his hands, rather than in the Western manner with the right hand. The grip of

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hands is gentler and the shaking less vigorous than in the Western style. Additionally, when a younger person shakes hands with an elder, be it a parent, a teacher or someone else, the younger person also bows down during the handshake, and kisses the upper side of the right hand of the older person. This is to show respect to the elder person. During occasions such as Hari Raya the younger persons in a family may also go down on to the knees and then carry out this handshake as just described. This, however, happens only when the elders are seated. Following the shaking of hands each person raises both his or her hands to the chest and places them momentarily at the centre or on the left side where the heart is. This action symbolises sincerity. Shaking hands between members of the opposite sexes is, however, prohibited, as Islam forbids physical contact between the sexes (See the section entitled Touching). There are of course exceptions to this rule. One may, for instance, shake hands with family-members of the opposite sex or with very young children, as well as with the elderly. If the visitor to a kampung house is a man he is generally given a seat on the landing; the host will then attend to him. Traditionally betel left trays (tepaksirih), containing the left and all the requisite ingredients were placed before visitors, but this art of serving betel-leaves is fast dying out. During the next few minutes a drink is brought for the visitor, and there may even be some snacks. CLIMATE:

Climate of Malaysian peninsula:The climate of Malaysia can be classified as warm-humid equatorial, characterised by high temperatures and humidity. Air temperature averages between 22°C and 32°C with small annual and diurnal ranges. It is continually near but seldom exceeds normal skin temperature. Humidity is high throughout the year, averaging about 75% or more. With heavy cloud cover and high water-vapour content in the air, direct solar radiation is filtered. Although reduced, solar radiation is strong and can cause painful sky glare. The high humidity also accelerates rotting, rusting and the growth of algae and mould. Winds are generally of low-variable speed. Strong winds can occur with the rains. Winds


Vernacular Architecture Report come in two dominant directions, from the northeast and southwest. Rainfall is also high throughout the year, averaging 250 to 300 cm annually. Rains become more intense with the monsoons. Vegetation growth is prolific and is sometimes difficult to control under the favourable conditions of moist air, moderate heat and high rainfall.

Thermal comfort requirements

The main causes of climatic stress in Malaysia are high temperatures, solar radiation, humidity and glare. To achieve climatic comfort in the Malaysian home, these factors must be controlled besides the control of rain, floods and occasional strong winds. For thermal comfort, heat produced by the human metabolic process must be dissipated from the body to the environment in order to maintain a balance and constant body temperature of around 37C. Metabolism involves the conversion of food into energy for muscular work and tissue-building, emitting heat in the process. Heat gain by the body from the environment through solar radiation or warm air must also be minimised. Heat is dissipated from the body to the environment by convection, radiation or evaporation, and, to a lesser extent, by conduction. However, heat loss through conduction, radiation and convection is negligible in the Malaysian climate because the air temperatures are continually near

the skin temperature. Similarly, because of high humidity, evaporative cooling and perspiration are greatly reduced and even inhibited. Evaporation of moisture from the body in the humid climate quickly forms a saturated air envelope around the body. The saturated air envelope prevents any further evaporation from the body and undermines the last means of heat dissipation. Thus, to achieve some degree of thermal comfort, the saturated air envelope around the body must be removed. Air flowing across the body can remove the saturated air envelope and accelerate evaporation. However, this is insufficient because without ventilation (air exchange), both the temperature and humidity in a room will build up to very high levels, leading to very uncomfortable conditions. This temperature and humidity build-up is caused by the heat and moisture output of human bodies within an enclosed space. Though natural ventilation is often accompanied by air movement, th reverse is not necessarily true. Air movement can often occur without ventilation. This is illustrated in the familiar situation of the use of fans in badly ventilated rooms. The circulation of hot and humid air within a confined space does little to relieve climatic stress. Thus, adequate ventilation is the critical factor in dissipating body heat. Direct and indirect solar radiation, hot air, together with conduction and radiation from the building fabric are the main sources of heat gain to the body.

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Vernacular Architecture Report Direct solar radiation is the primary source of heat gain while the others are secondary sources, thus making the proper control of solar radiation most crucial for the achievement of thermal comfort. The other major source of heat gain lies in the type of building material used. In most modern buildings where high-thermal-capacity material such as bricks, concrete and zinc is used, the heat absorbed within the building fabric which is radiated to the interiors of the buildings causes great discomfort. From the above discussion, it is clear that to achieve thermal comfort in the warm humid Malaysian climate, solar heat gain by the building and human body must be minimised while heat dissipation from the body must be maximised by ventilation and evaporative cooling. A deep understanding of such thermal-comfort requirements and the nature of the Malaysian climate is reflected in the climatic adaptation of the traditional Malay house discussed in the following sections.

Design for climatic control

From the preceding explanation of the climatic characteristics of Malaysia, it is obvious that to attain optimal climatic control, a houseform in Malaysia should provide for the following: (a) allow adequate ventilation for cooling and reduction of humidity; (b) use building materials with low thermal capacity so that little heat is

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transmitted into the house; (c) control direct solar radiation; (d) control glare from the open skies and surroundings; (e) protect against rain; and (f) ensure adequate natural vegetation in the surroundings to provide for The Malay house was designed and built taking these points much into account. As a result, it is a very appropriate houseform suited specifically to the vagaries of the tropical climate of Malaysia. Indeed, it is much more suited to the local climate than the modern Western-style brick house. The wooden traditional Malay house raised on stilts exhibits a quality of openness which is unseen in most modern houses. This is shown by the many voids of the building in its windows, ventilation grilles and panels; the open ,stilted bottom; and its open interiors with minimum partitions. This quality of openness reflects the importance given to ventilation in the design of the Malay house. There are numerous features in the traditional Malay house that are geared towards providing effective ventilation. The house is raised on stilts to catch winds of a higher velocity. The elongated structure of the traditional Malay house with minimal partitions in the interior, allows easy passage of air and cross-ventilation. Windows are plentiful in the Malay house and since the body level is the most vital area for ventilation, full length fully openable windows are used. The carved wooden panels and wooden grilles in the house are also effective ventilation devices. The sail-like


Vernacular Architecture Report tebarlayar(gable end) of the roof is used to trap and direct air to ventilate the roof space. Ventilation joints in the roof called the patahare another creative ventilation device used to ventilate the roof space. Besides ensuring adequate ventilation in the interior of the house, winds from the exterior are also encouraged to flow through the house. The random arrangement of the kampong houses and the careful planting and selection of trees ensure that winds are not blocked for the houses in the latter path of the wind. The lightweight construction of the Malay house with minimum mass and much voids, using low-thermal-capacity and high-insulation materials, is most appropriate for thermal comfort in our climate. The wood, bamboo and attapused have good insulating properties and they retain or conduct little heat into the building. Solar radiation is effectively controlled by the large thatched Malay house roof with large overhangs. The walls of the house are low, thus effectively reducing the vertical areas of the house exposed to solar radiation. The low walls also make the task of shading easier. The large overhangs which provide good shading also provide good protection against driving rain. They also allow the windows to be left open most of the time for ventilation, even during the rain. The Malay house is also designed to control direct exposure to heat from direct sunlight. Traditionally, many Malay houses are oriented to face Mecca for religious reasons. This East-West orientation of the house reduces the exposure of the house to direct solar radiation. The compound of the house is also often heavily shaded with trees and covered with vegetation. This sets the house in a cooler environment, by the trees and vegetation not absorbing and storing heat from solar radiation and reradiating it into the environment. Glare, which can be a major source of stress in the Malaysian climate, is effectively controlled in the traditional Malay house. This is done by excluding open skies and bright areas from the visual field. Windows are kept low and shaded by large roof overhangs to reduce glare from the open skies. Glare from the surrounding environment is lessened by the less reflective vegetation ground cover, trees and houses. Glare is also controlled by the use of grilles and carved wooden panels which break up large bright areas into tiny ones and yet allow the interiors to be lighted up. The traditional Malay house with its large roof and low windows tends to be under

lighted. This gives a psychological effect of coolness as strong light is often mentally associated with heat. Indirect sources of light like internal and external reflected light are used in the traditional Malay house. They are the best forms of natural lighting for our climate as they minimise heat gain and glare. Direct sunlight should not be used for daylightingas it is accompanied by thermal radiation. It can be seen that the traditional Malay house uses mainly ventilation and solar radiation control devices to provide climatic comfort for the house. These are the most effective means for climatic comfort in a house in the warm and humid Malaysian climate. There are few internal walls to enable this free flow of air and large windows that can be opened or closed to enable air and light to enter as required. Triangular-shaped decorative gables on either end of the roof assist ventilation. Hot air escapes through these and breezes are captured and directed through the roofline. Traditional homes are naturally dark on the inside in an attempt to limit the entry of light and heat. Originally the stilts provided protection from wild animals and rising floodwaters. While preying animals are not so much a problem in contemporary Malaysian life, they once were. Even today, tropical downpours cause local flooding in some areas and stilted house offer greater protection.

Materials and construction techniques:

Using renewable natural materials including timber and bamboo, the dwellings are often built without the use of metal including nails. Instead pre-cut holes and grooves are used to fit the timber elements into one another, effectively making it a ‘prefabricated house’. Although nails had been invented and in later houses used minimally for non-structural elements such as windows or panels, structural flexibility was a benefit which nailing inhibited. Without nails, a timber house could be dismantled and reconstructed in a new location. The traditional Malay house relies for its strength on a complex jointing system made rigid by the use of timber wedges. This allows the house to be easily taken apart and reassembled elsewhere. The traditional Malay house is primarily a timber structure, built off the ground using the post-and-beam method by local carpenters or by the owners themselves. Its walls are usually made of timber, although bamboo is still used in certain

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Vernacular Architecture Report areas. Numerous full-length windows line the walls, providing both ventilation and a view outside. The high-pitched, gabled roof, which dominates the house, was traditionally covered with thatch but is now more often covered with galvanized iron. The traditional Malay house is an elegant example of indigenous ingenuity, practicality and a monument to the wonders of tropical timber. A seemingly simple wooden structure, it was built to dissipate heat, withstand monsoons and stands as a reflection of Malay living. Primarily made of chengal, a dense rainforest tree, some of these classic houses are over 100 years old. The thick planks of chengal wood prevent outside heat from reaching inside, keeping the interior cool. High, slanting roofs allow heat to rise and escape through ventilation slits that helps circulate air through the rooms. Chengal wood darkens over time, thus windows were elongated vertically to let in plentiful sunlight. Two of the more fascinating architectural aspects of Malay timber houses are the lack of nails and a foundation. Pegs and wooden dowels stabilize the entire structure which stands erect on pillars; it is not embedded in soil or concrete. Thus, the entire house can be taken apart like a Lego toy and put back together at another location.

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Large spaces underneath these houses served a multitude of purposes. Used as a workshop, fishermen repaired boats and stored them here during the monsoon season. Hens, goats and cows remained safe and secure from wild animals and poachers. At dusk, families burned rubbish and twigs to smoke out the underside of the house to repel mosquitoes.


Vernacular Architecture Report

DESIGN ANALYSIS Planning: Site Planning Main criteria of the Malay house: Random arrangement of houses. This ensures that the wind velocity in the houses in the latter path of the wind will not be substantially reduced. Malay village is known as Kampong.

Kampong environment and house compound

The kampong or village is a rural settlement sustained traditionally by subsistence activities like padi-growing, fishing and other agricultural practices. The house compound in the kumpong is meticulously well-kept, with the compound well swept and planted with vegetables and fruit trees, especially with coconut and banana and, to a lesser extent, with guava, pineapple, papaya and rambutan trees. The wells and toilets are usually located in the compound, spaced far apart and kept away from the house. The well-shaded compounds are favourite places for play and social interaction, but are also used as working areas. Attup- and mat-weaving, drying, rice-pounding and carpentry are some common work activities carried out in the house compound. Another semi-private space commonly

used for work is the open bottom of the stilted Malay house. Besides being a popular workplace and chatting place, it is also used to store padi, fuel (firewood, coconut fronds, etc.), building materials, implements for planting padi, the kaki lesong (a large pounder operated by leg-power), bicycles and even cars. Malay traditional houses are built on stilts. As velocity of wind increases with altitude, the house, particularly at body level ensures the capture of winds of higher velocity. House that is built on stilts also ensures full capture of ventilation as it allows avoidance on ground cover plant which restricts the air movement.

The compound and the Kampong:

It is difficult to differentiate and demarcate the territories of public and private spaces in the village. Due to the preference for community intimacy over personal privacy, house compounds are often open and unfenced, making private spaces ill-defined and merging with public spaces. As discussed later, this leads to a well-integrated spatial environment which promotes close community ties in the village.

The kampong layout

The kampong, on first encounter, may

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Vernacular Architecture Report look haphazard to many observers. It has few clear visual landmarks or focal points which may help a person to locate his orientation. The kampong is randomly distributed with Malay houses, trees, compounds and paths. The houses look similar and blend harmoniously with the environment. There are usually not many main roads in the kurnpong except occasionally for the access road leading into the kurnpong. Instead, paths link the village, leading from one house to another, winding through the houses and leading to other parts of the village. Paths are unclear as many of them merge into sandy open compounds of houses. There is no clear geometric order in the layout of the kurnpong. Instead, the layout is determined by the social relationships and the culture and lifestyle of the villagers. House sites are traditionally selected by observation and religious rituals. Houses are spaced far apart for future expansion, tree-planting and privacy. Adequate privacy is provided by the dark interiors and the distance between the houses in most cases. Houses are joined by free-flowing paths winding around the houses. House compounds flow into each other. Few obstructive physical barriers are used to demarcate territories. Instead, very subtle and unobstructive

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markings are used. Fallen coconut tree trunks and a cleanly swept compound can already define a house compound. In the kurnpong, the definition of public and private areas is unclear and overlaps. Even the boundaries of kumpongsare largely indistinct although boundaries inpadi fields are more clearly defined by the bunds and irrigation canals. Although not much importance is attached to the demarcation of house territories, much importance is attached to the usufructuary rights to the fruit trees and coconut trees. Social interaction is maximised by the free-flowing,open and unobstructive public-private areas. Children can play safely anywhere in the house compounds and in the public areas. The kurnpongis under a huge canopy of coconut and other trees which keeps the kumpongwell shaded and allows use of the open compounds even during hot afternoons. The random layout, the natural setting, the use of local building materials and the lack of physical barriers give the kurnpongan informal and open atmosphere which is conducive to intimate social relations. The kurnpongenvironment is an expression of the culture and needs of the users, unlike modem settlements which are expressions


Vernacular Architecture Report of a larger socio-economic world order which has imposed its physical, social and economic structures on Malaysia.

Orientation

Traditional Malay houses are often oriented to face Mecca (i.e. in an east-west direction) for religious reasons. The east-west orientation minimizes areas exposed to solar radiation. This orientation also suits the wind patterns in Malaysia (north-east and south-west).

House planning and individual spaces:

The Malays tradition affects a lot in vernacular Malay house design. The house has at least two entrances. The main entrance at the front always been used by visitors and males but entrance at the back one mostly used by women and children. The house is divided into three main areas, the ‘serambi’ (verandah), ‘rumahibu’ (main house) and ‘dapur’ (kitchen). To separate the area, one slight floor level changes or doorways have been made between the areas. Besides the three main areas, some of the houses have the ‘anjung’ and passageway. The ‘anjung’ is a covered porch where used as a relax area for family members or guest. A passageway known as the ‘selang’ links the main house to the kitchen and provides an effective firebreak between the areas in the house. Most of the traditional Malay houses are constructed by local

carpenters or by the owners themselves. The design and material used for traditional Malay house highly influences by socioeconomic, cultural and environmental needs. Most of the material used is readily available local material such as timber, bamboo and palm.

Plan of a Malay house

Traditional Malay homes are essentially family homes where privacy is not so important and therefore walls and separate rooms are limited. However, there are certain areas within the home that are frequented by certain family members. Men occupy the front of the home more so than the women and youngsters. The front of the house is designated by stairs leading up to a raised covered veranda. The covered veranda or anjungis a transition space between the house’s public and private domains. Benches usually line the inside of the railing. Here, the men sit and watch the world passing by and generally keep a watch over the family. This is where casual visitors are welcomed and entertained. In fishing communities, the entrance veranda maybe quite large so that activities associated with fishing can be carried out in this cool and ventilated area. For example, nets maybe repaired, traps constructed and fishing equipment maintained. The core area of the house is called the rumahibu.

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Vernacular Architecture Report This high-roofed section is the family’s main private space open only to them and very close personal household friends. Raised floor areas inside the house help delineated certain functions. For example, the sleeping area is normally raised to designate an area where one would not normally sit. At the entrances of most traditional Malay houses, stairs lead up to a Covered porch called the anjung. The porch acts as a good transition space between the public and the private domains. The anjung also acts as an important focal point for the entrance. Unfa- miliar visitors and guests are entertained here. It is also a favourite place for the house occupants to rest, chat and watch the goings-on and passers-by in the village. From the entrance porch, one enters

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into the serambigantung (hanging verandah). This is the place where most guests are entertained. The low win-dows in the serumbiguntung allow for good ventilation and good views to the exterior. From the serumbiguntung, one enters into the rumuhibu, which is the core area. This is the largest area in the house where most activities are con- ducted. Sleeping, sewing, praying, ironing, studying and even feasting (kenduri) which is held during marriages and other festivals, all occur here. The importance of the rumuhibu is expressed by its floor level being the highest in the house.


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Extending the house: The addition system

allows the house to be built up gradually at a pace controlled by the users. The addition system also fits well with Like the design flexibility found in other the economic means and the needs of the users. As user-designed traditions, the traditional Malay a family accumulates savings over time, or as the house caters well to the varied needs of the users. family needs grow, or where there is a desire for a This design flexibility is clearly expressed in the addition system of the traditional Malay house. This more comprehensive dwelling place, additions to the house are made. The addition system which alis basically a system in which new extensions are lows the house to grow slowly also does not create added on to the basic core house. The new parts heavy financial burdens on the users by allowing may be built as extensions at various stages and them to build according to their financial resources times as and when the need arises, for instance over time. when the family grows in size. The system grew out The addition system in the traditional of the needs, means, constraints and socioeconomMalay house is not an ad hoc system of extenic contexts of the users. It is a very well-developed and sophisticated system which is based on addition sions like those made to modem houses and other non-traditional houses such as the spontaneous principles which are sound in design, construction and aesthetics, and causes minimal disruption to the squatter houses. The addition system is a highly deoriginal house. The traditional Malay house is set in veloped and sophisticated system following certain principles that integrate and grow well with the core a rural setting where the main economic activities house. of the people are farming and fishing. The seasonThe core house al patterns of work leave much spare time to the The basic core house of the addition villagers during the off-seasons for housebuilding, system is the rumahibu. The addition system is mending nets and boats, making household implebuilt upon the extension of this core house and this ments and doing other part-time economic activinecessarily makes it the most important and centies. The addition system of the Malay house is well suited for this seasonal pattern of work by facilitating tral part of the house. The rumah ibu is the most basic housing unit which satisfies the basic needs of housebuilding during the off-seasons, and thus

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Vernacular Architecture Report a small family. The core house can be big or small depending on the needs and affordability of the family. A small rumahibucan, in fact, be converted to a kitchen if the family decides to build a much bigger rumahibu. This is made possible by the use of standard houseforms and a variety of construction methods.

Addition possibilities: The addition system of the traditional Malay house offers a wide variety of choices to the user seeking to extend his house. Through adaptations and use, the users in different parts of Peninsular Malaysia have evolved a wide range of possibilities, some of which are peculiar to localities and some of which are found throughout the Peninsula. What is described here is only a basic

range of possibilities which are found throughout the Peninsula. In actual fact, combinations of the various possibilities are also possible. The range of possibilities can be enlarged in accordance with the variation in size and quality depending on the priorities of the users. The concept of incremental housing shown in the addition system of the Malay house is a flexible approach which grows with the needs and means of the user. This housing concept is most appropriate for housing the poor as the house requires only a small initial capital investment and grows when the family has the means to expand the house. This lessens the financial burden on the poor. Incremental housing seen in the traditional Malay house can also be found in other vernacular houses and other autonomous houses such as those built by squatters.

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ELEMENTS IN THE MALAY HOUSE

Other than its mystical aspects, which may consist of the rites and rituals of its construction, the Malay house is made up of three major elements — the physical, the spatial and the functional.5 As has been analysed in The Malay House: Rationale and Change, the functional element consists of a list of activities that may take place within the Malay house ranging from ‘circulation’ to ‘work’. These and other activities are closely related to one another because of the culture and tradition of the Malays. The relationship of these activities is translated into rules from which the hierarchy of spatial importance in the Malay house is derived. The spatial element consists of a series of spatial components or spaces from which a Malay house is made, the minimum two spaces being the ibu rumah(main space in a house) and dapur (kitchen) which together form what is called the Basic Malay House.6 All other spaces may be added to the Basic House (Figure 4) based on implicit rules practised by master carpenters and builders. The anaIysis of the physical element is similar to that of the spatial element, but instead of analysing spaces, solid physical components are broken down into their smallest units. In the design of the Malay house, these units are also arranged according to rules which are understood by only master carpenters. Despite the need to understand the major elements of the Malay house, this paper chooses to explain in detail only one part of these elementsthe physical element. However it is hoped that the explanation will reflect the totality of the Malay house.

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Components of the physical element

The physical element of the Malay house comprises the following components (Figure 5): a Plinth. b Frame. c Roof. d Floor. e Wall. f Vertical circulation. g Additional elements.


Vernacular Architecture Report The above breakdown also reflects the traditional sequence of construction. Components are prefabricated without formal ‘plans. When these components are prepared, able-bodied male members of the community participate in the assembly of these components under the supervision of the master carpenter. The interrelationship of these components (Figure 6) is primarily due to the constructional requirements. For example, the plinth is never connected to the roof directly. This is because the roof requires a set of frames consisting of purlins, rafters, wall-plates and columns to support it. Therefore the only way that the roof may be connected to the plinth is by having a supporting frame. Similarly, this frame must exist between the roof and the wall.

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Foundations Malay traditional houses are steeped in history and sophisticated features. Its origins go back to the Khmer-Indo Chinese of the 13th century since it resembled houses found in Cambodia and Thailand. The most obvious design similarity is raising the house on pillars as high as eight feet. This practice saved families from flood danger and kept ground dampness at a distance. Another benefit of these elevated homes was to protect occupants from wild animals active at night. The thick planks of chengal wood prevent outside heat from reaching inside, keeping the interior cool. High, slanting roofs allow heat to rise and escape through ventilation slits that helps circulate air through the rooms. Chengal wood darkens over time, thus windows were elongated vertically to let in plentiful sunlight. Two of the more fascinating architectural aspects of Malay timber houses are the lack of nails and a foundation. Pegs and wooden dowels stabilize the entire structure which stands erect on pillars; it is not embedded in

24 Malay House

soil or concrete. Thus, the entire house can be taken apart like a Lego toy and put back together at another location. Large spaces underneath these houses served a multitude of purposes. Used as a workshop, fishermen repaired boats and stored them here during the monsoon season. Hens, goats and cows remained safe and secure from wild animals and poachers. At dusk, families burned rubbish and twigs to smoke out the underside of the house to repel mosquitoes.

Timber Pilings

Timber pilings have been used for 6,000 years and continue to be one of the leading types of driven piles. Timber is often used in pile foundations because it is a readily available and renewable resource. Because it is light in weight, timber is also more easily handled, driven and cut than other types of piles. Timber piling is also resistant to acidic and alkaline soil and does not corrode in such soils as easily as steel. According to the Federal Highway Administration, timber pile foundation underwater will last indefinitely and timber piles partially above


Vernacular Architecture Report water can last up to 100 years or longer if they are properly prepared and treated.

Concrete Pilings

There are several variations of concrete piles. Concrete piles can be pre-cast or cast-inplace, and they can be reinforced, pre-stressed or plain. Concrete piles do not corrode like steel piles or decay like wood piles; also, concrete is more readily available than steel. Pre-cast concrete piles are shaped and molded according to shape, length and size prior to being driven into the ground, while cast-in-place piles are poured into holes in the ground where a rod has been previously driven and removed. Reinforced and pre-stressed concrete

piles are pre-cast piles where the concrete is poured over steel rods to make the piles stronger, which lets them more easily withstand the pressures of driving.

Rise on pile

Raise building on pile give distinct advantages. In fact, it is suited to tropical as a response to surrounding environments. It can describe a methods to adjust high distance floor above surface ground. There are some varieties to put or and rise building on pile. It seems this piling concept contradicted to modern technique that building should be tied up into ground. Malay pile building can be placed on the rock, or attach through simple platform without embed into ground

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Walls and Openings The detail design of the Malay house can be better understood by breaking down the components into still smaller parts or what is termed here as ‘subcomponents’. These are parts which, when combined, provide the variations to the components. The example selected for this paper is the wall. The wall can be divided into three zones —top, middle and bottom. The top zone consists of the gable board while the bottom zone consists of the kolong cover (wall surrounding space underneath the house). The middle zone consists of four subcomponents: 1 Opening 2 Fanlight 3 Walling Sheet 4 Shutters There is one opening type. This can be left open or be blocked by a walling sheet. When an

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opening is left open, it becomes a door and when it is blocked it becomes a window. Fanlights come in various shapes and sizes but can be classified under one type, usually placed above openings, allowing the passage of light and air. Even though fanlights are usually rectangular, semicircular ones can also be found. There are four types of walling sheet: ‘long open’, ‘long closed’, ‘short open’ and ‘short closed’. ‘Long walling sheets’ refers to full-height sheets. These sheets extend from the floor to the underside of the wall plate. ‘Short walling sheets’ are those which reach waist height or about the usual height of balustrades or handrails. ‘Closed walling sheets’ are those which, by the nature of their construction, do not allow air to pass through and conversely, ‘open walling sheets’ are those which allow the passage of air.


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There are two types of shutters - long and short. Long shutters are those which extend from the floor to the top of the openings and short shutters are those which open above the short walling sheets. Although the design of walls may vary from one house to another, the basic design structure, comprising these zones and the subcomponents, is the same. What leads to this consistency is the set of implicit rules that mastercarpenters understand. It is the intention of this paper to attempt to make these rules explicit. 1. Openings must be placed symmetrically on the central vertical axis of the faรงade. 2. There can be more than one opening but each one must be separated from the next by a long wall-

ing sheet. 3. Openings must not be made at both ends of the faรงade when long walling sheets are used. 4. Openings can however be made for the whole length of the faรงade. No long walling sheet must be used. 5. A fanlight must be located above an opening. 6. Walling sheets may be fixed around but not above an opening. 7. Unless openings are made along the whole length of the faรงade, a pair of shutters must be provided for every opening. 8. Long shutters must be used if an opening is not blocked by a walling sheet. 9. Long shutters must be used if an opening is blocked by a short open walling sheet.

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Rules in the middle zone of a wall

Knowing all the subcomponents that make up the middle zone of the wall, the task now is to place these subcomponents so as to create part of the façade of the Malay house. Assuming that the middle zone is rectangular the placement of the subcomponents can be based on the following rules: The summary of these rules is shown in Figure 9. In order to see the applicability of these rules, houses in Johore may be studied. This will also show the validity of such rules. Houses which deviate from them can be called ‘modified’ Malay houses as opposed to ‘traditional’ houses, on which the rules are based. How middle zone rules work Figure shows the analysis of the house in Johore shown earlier in Figure 1. It shows how some of the above rules are applied. In some other cases, however, when subcomponents are not selected for use in the middle zone of the wall, the rules which pertain to that subcomponent do not

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apply. For example, if an opening which is blocked by a short walling sheet is not selected for incorporation in the middle zone of the wall, then Rule 10 does not apply. Figure 11 shows another example of the rules applied in the design of the middle zone of the facade of a house in Johore.


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Rules for middle zone of wall

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Roofs Steep roof and openings allows for fast water runoffs and facilitates circulation of hot air out of the house to increase natural ventilation.

Saddle roof

In generally, theMalay traditional saddle roofs are rectangular formand rarely square. It can be divide

Belah Bubung Roof

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into three group which base on basic form such as: (1) BelahBubung Roof; or bubungmelayu/rabungmelayu/lipatkajang/lipatpandan/ataplabu/ ataplayar/ atapbersayap / atapbertinggam, (2) Limas Roof; or limaspenuh/limasberabungmelayu, (3) Lontik Roof ; orpencalang/lancang(traditionalboat)/gorai(Effendi,1986).

Limas Roof

Lontik Roof


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Gable-finials decorative

The finial is an architectural device, typically carved and employed decoratively to emphasize the apex of a gable or any of various distinctive ornaments at the top, end, or corner of a building or structure. A gable finial can be describe as vertical surface situated at one or at both ends of the roof, adjoining a pitched roof. Its shape depends on the type of roof and parapet, mostly triangular, which is as on the facade rather than the back end (front gable). Gable horn, part of gable-finials, known as traditional roof decorative element has

architectural similarities in the broad area coverage. Not only in traditional building of the archipelago, but also found strong evidence has similarities with decorative elements used on gable-finials in the region surrounding Astronesia such as; South East Asia, Malanesia, Micronesia, Polynesia and Madagascar. This has made identifying characteristic strong decorative elements. Gable horn become one hallmark of traditional architecture Astronesia region. Values contained not only from an architectural point of view, but can develop in accordance with their respective regional culture.

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Drainage Gaps between the floorboards solved problems of house cleaning, drainage, ventilation and also lighting. The raised floor presented solution to social responsibilities such as bathing the physically

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challenged elderly and also bathing the deceased. Waste water from Kitchen and Bathroom drained and soaked into sandy ground.


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Devices to ensure Thermal Comfort Thermal comfort requirements The main causes of climatic stress in Malaysia are high temperatures, solar radiation, humidity and glare. To achieve climatic comfort in the Malaysian home, these factors must be controlled besides the control of rain, floods and occasional strong winds. For thermal comfort, heat produced by the human metabolic process must be dissipated from the body to the environment in order to maintain a balance and constant body temperature of around 37C. Metabolism involves the conversion of food into energy for muscular work and tissue-building, emitting heat in the process. Heat gain by the body from the environment through solar radiation or warm air must also be minimised. Heat is dissipated from the body to the environment by convection, radiation or evaporation, and, to a lesser extent, by conduction. However, heat loss through conduction, radiation and convection is negligible in the Malaysian climate because the air temperatures are continually near the skin temperature. Similarly, because of high humidity, evaporative cooling and perspiration are greatly reduced and even inhibited. Evaporation of

moisture from the body in the humid climate quickly forms a saturated air envelope around the body. The saturated air envelope prevents any further evaporation from the body and undermines the last means of heat dissipation. Thus, to achieve some degree of thermal comfort, the saturated air envelope around the body must be removed. Air flowing across the body can remove the saturated air envelope and accelerate evaporation. However, this is insufficient because without ventilation (air exchange), both the temperature and humidity in a room will build up to very high levels, leading to very uncomfortable conditions. This temperature and humidity build-up is caused by the heat and moisture output of human bodies within an enclosed space. Though natural ventilation is often accompanied by air movement, the reverse is not necessarily true. Air movement can often occur without ventilation. This is illustrated in the familiar situation of the use of fans in badly ventilated rooms. The circulation of hot and humid air within a confined space does little to relieve climatic stress. Thus, adequate ventilation is the critical factor in dissipating body heat.

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Vernacular Architecture Report Direct and indirect solar radiation, hot air, together with conduction and radiation from the building fabric are the main sources of heat gain to the body. Direct solar radiation is the primary source of heat gain while the others are secondary sources, thus making the proper control of solar radiation most crucial for the achievement of thermal comfort. The other major source of heat gain lies in the type of building material used. In most modern buildings where high-thermal-capacity material such as bricks, concrete and zinc is used, the heat absorbed within the building fabric which is radiated to the interiors of the buildings causes great discomfort. From the above discussion, it is clear that to achieve thermal comfort in the warm humid Malaysian climate, solar heat gain by the building and human body must be minimised while heat dissipation from the body must be maximised by ventilation and evaporative cooling. A deep understanding of such thermal-comfort requirements and the nature of the Malaysian climate is reflected in the climatic adaptation of the traditional Malay house discussed in the following sections.

Design for climatic control From the preceding explanation of the climatic characteristics of Malaysia, it is obvious that to attain optimal climatic control, a houseform in Malaysia should provide for the following: (a) allow adequate ventilation for cooling and reduction of humidity; (b) use building materials with low thermal capacity so that little heat is transmitted into the house; (c) control direct solar radiation; (d) control glare from the open skies and surroundings; (e) protect against rain; and (f) ensure adequate natural vegetation in the surroundings to provide for a cooler micro-climate The Malay house was designed and built taking these points much into account. As a result, it is a very appropriate houseform suited specifically to the vagaries of the tropical climate of Malaysia. Indeed, it is much more suited to the local climate than the modern Western-style brick house. The wooden traditional Malay house raised on stilts

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exhibits a quality of openness which is unseen in most modern houses. This is shown by the many voids of the building in its windows, ventilation grilles and panels; the open stilted bottom; and its open interiors with minimum partitions. This quality of openness reflects the importance given to ventilation in the design of the Malay house. There are numerous features in the traditional Malay house that are geared towards providing effective ventilation. The house is raised on stilts to catch winds of a higher velocity. The elongated structure of the traditional Malay house with minimal partitions in the interior, allows easy passage of air andcross-ventilation. Windows are plentiful in the Malay house and since the body level is the most vital area for ventilation, full-length fully openable windows are used. The carved wooden panels and wooden grilles in the house are also effective ventilation devices. The sail-like tebarlayar(gable end) of the roof is used to trap and direct air to ventilate the roof space. Ventilation joints in the roof called the patahare another creative ventilation device used to ventilate the roof space. Besides ensuring adequate ventilation in the interior of the house, winds from the exterior are also encouraged to flow through the house. The random arrangement of the kampong houses and the careful planting and selection of trees ensure that winds are not blocked for the houses in the latter path of the wind. The lightweight construction of the Malay house with minimum mass and much voids, using low-thermal-capacity and high-insulation materials, is most appropriate for thermal comfort in our climate. The wood, bamboo and attapused have good insulating properties and they retain or conduct little heat into the building. Solar radiation is effectively controlled by the large thatched Malay house roof with large overhangs. The walls of the house are low, thus effectively reducing the vertical areas of the house exposed to solar radiation. The low walls also make the task of shading easier. The large overhangs which provide good shading also provide good protection against driving rain. They also allow the windows to be left open most of the time for ventilation, even during the rain. The Malay house is also designed to control direct exposure to heat from direct sunlight. Traditionally, many Malay houses are oriented to face Mecca for religious reasons. This East-West orientation of the house reduces the exposure of the house to direct solar radiation. The compound


Vernacular Architecture Report of the house is also often heavily shaded with trees and covered with vegetation. This sets the house in a cooler environment, by the trees and vegetation not absorbing and storing heat from solar radiation and reradiating it into the environment. Glare, which can be a major source of stress in the Malaysian climate, is effectively controlled in the traditional Malay house. This is done by excluding open skies and bright areas from the visual field. Windows are kept low and shaded by large roof overhangs to reduce glare from the open skies. Glare from the surrounding environment is lessened by the less reflective vegetation ground cover, trees and houses. Glare is also controlled by the use of grilles and carved wooden panels which break up large bright areas into tiny ones

and yet allow the interiors to be lighted up. The traditional Malay house with its large roof and low windows tends to beunderlighted. This gives a psychological effect of coolness as strong light is often mentally associated with heat. Indirect sources of light like internal and external reflected light are used in the traditional Malay house. They are the best forms of natural lighting for our climate as they minimise heat gain and glare. Direct sunlight should not be used for daylightingas it is accompanied by thermal radiation. It can be seen that the traditional Malay house uses mainly ventilation and solar radiation control devices to provide climatic comfort for the house. These are the most effective means for climatic comfort in a house in the warm and humid Malaysian climate.

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LESSONS FOR CONTEMPORARY ARCHITECTURE The ubiquitous terrace house is still the most popular housing type in the country. Terrace housing has long been considered the densest form of property development and in Malaysia has become the stereotyped form of accommodating the masses. However, its design has been plague with various issues for decades. It has been associated with bad design, heat collector, safety issues and unsightly renovations. In contrary to the tropical architecture with sun shading devices, ventilation, openings and the use of local material such as timber, terrace houses have been designed as masonry and reinforced concrete boxes fitted with air conditioning. The modern day terrace house whilst designed has perhaps overlooked one of the most important elements of a tropical house that is the raised floor. The traditional raised floor design involves issues such as ventilation, lighting, thermal comfort and social aspects. This research intends to explore the various issues mentioned above and proposed to uniquely develop a new design for inhouse habitation as well as providing for an aesthetically pleasing look. It suggests a possible and promising way of increasing the liability of terrace housing by the means of a raised floor and at this stage it is still in the experimental stage. The terrace house’s position as the undisputed accommodation for the masses is likely to persist given its priority in the current Ninth Malaysia’s Plan. Approval of such houses is also among the highest of all property types and demand is expected to increase. However, little has changed in terms of its design innovation for the last 25 years. New designs are devoid of design principles and are usually aesthetically offensive. Buildings are built fast with minimum professional effort. The livability index for terrace housing in Malaysia, with respect, has never been analysed.

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Uninteresting design, inflexibility of space, inappropriate renovations, poor ventilation, lighting and thermal comfort resulted in unacceptable housing living culture in urban and sub urban community area in Malaysia. Most housing schemes were planned in gridiron layout for maximum land use. Hence, it has resulted in units designed with no sensitivity to warm humid tropical climate’s requirements as those evident in the traditional Malay houses. Terrace housing community is seen as lacking the architectural qualities and social integrity as seen in the kampong The traditional kampung on the other hand, reveals sublime architectural qualities that express the way of life, culture and ingenious climatic adaptation of its users. It is not only a physical and geographical entity but also a political and cultural institution. The priority in habitation lies in the relationship of the idea of life, family and community. It is more of a spiritual issue and thus requires sensitive intervention. If people of Malaysia fail to acknowledge this, then in the sea of congested modern housing, they will be living separate and individual lives and will forever be plagued with climatic problems and cultural tensions. In the traditional Malay house, there is a clear definition of architectural elements and can be categorized into three main zone. The top zone, which covers the roof element, the middle zone for wall and the bottom zone which is the floor. Environmental details of Malay house Since 1981 several researches have determined that terraced houses are poorly designed to achieve various climatic comfort and social requirements. The problems livability of terrace housing in Malaysia can be looked at from a few different aspects.


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Ventilation

House features and components which can generate ventilation include air well, doors and windows, ventilation panels and fenestration walls. However, most of the houses built today are devoid of true natural ventilation for house-cooling purposes. The favorite solution is to install an air-conditioning unit to the particular space that needs cooling. It is, at best, only a temporary solution, works only for those who have a high income, and completely disregards health issues.

Natural lighting

Most houses depend on windows or glass door for natural light either from there front or the rear of the house. Some house comes with clerestory lighting to bring light in. and others made use of the courtyard design. Unsightly renovation to the front porch and rear kitchen area however has rendered the light penetration especially to the centre space minimal.

Thermal comfort

In most houses today, comfort equals round the clock air-conditioning. Various features and components are not considered in the thermal comfort of a house. Roofs for example are not designed with ventilation louver to disperse trapped heat. Thus, house owners would rather close all doors and windows and turned on the air-conditioning in order to achieve great coolness.

Privacy violation

Designed on ground, terrace houses are renovated to the boundary lines incorporating high defence walls and security to secure privacy from not only passer-by and strangers but also pesky neighbour’s. To add to those layers of visual defence, clothes are hung to dry on rows of movable panels on the front porch where the cars are missing during the day. Gone are the social and community values as seen in the kampung.

Social and security

There are no definitive areas for social interaction and activities. The front porches are renovated to accommodate a stack of cars and children most often scatters away to play on the street where they are exposed to constant threat of accidents and mishaps. During times of social function such as khenduri or a wedding, the street transformed to cater to welcoming guests an audience.

Environmental

As recently, even the terrace-housing scheme has not been spared the wrath of Mother Nature. Constant flash floods have wreaked havoc to the nation with incurred losses in the amount of millions. Our forefathers were aware of that but not many have taken cues.

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THE MISSING ELEMENT - THE RAISED FLOOR OF THE TRADITIONAL MALAY HOUSE

The essence of modernism and its subsequent philosophical and aesthetic development have often not been understood by many architects in Asian countries. At the same time, a respect for tradition and our own architectural heritage is widely acceptable. They provide the basic foundations toward developing an exciting contemporary reinterpretation of the vernacular. The manifestation of the traditional Malay house can easily be identified by the three basic elements of architectural studies. They are the elements of floor, wall and roof. The traditional Malay house clearly shows a distinctive separation as evident its zoning of the elements. Many a research has been done to dissect and look at various components and elements of the traditional Malay house but the raised element has not been considered to a great length. Climatic design

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of the Malay House. The raised floor of the traditional Malay house has often presented itself with many possibilities. In an environment which is characterized by heavy, tropical rain accompanied by the now frequently heavy flash flood, the raised floor tradition is perhaps the most ideal and immediate solution to the problem. This is a vital design element, which has been overlooked for years and which design could possibly bear a significant impact on our housing system. It is the reflection of the society’s accumulated wisdom and collective images. The traditional raised floor not only allows for easy passage of air into and through the house but the area beneath the house is also comfortable for children to play and venue for various daily activities

ADVANTAGES OF THE RAISED FLOOR IN A HOT AND HUMID CLIMATE OFMALAYSIA • The raised floor increases air movement in and out of building. • Increasing the floor level from ground may require additional cost but the cost could in the long run be justifiable considering the addition space achieved and the possible functions. • Effective counters measures from animals and


Vernacular Architecture Report insects as well as comfort from the constant havoc of flash floods. • More privacy with additional consideration to detailed wall design. Floor rose at a level of more than that of a normal human height automatically restrict views from pedestrians. • Better security and fewer requirements of specific facilities normally associated with most terrace housing schemes. • Better views and option for integration of landscape design.

THE MODERN CONCEPT OF RAISED FLOOR HOUSING

The floor system of the traditional Malay house has often presented itself with a multifaceted usage, be it technically, environmentally or socially (See Figure 3). Its characteristics can be considered when designing with the modern concept of raised floor. The raised floor can be designed to allow for: • Ventilation (good air flow movement) • Lighting (good light filtering in from the floor) • Thermal Comfort (retardant from direct heat from the ground) • Privacy (visual and social) • Functionality (multifunction of usage) • Economy (low energy usage, cost effective)

Floor function of a Malay House

Advantages of the new design As with the raised floor of the traditional house, the new raised floor design presents us with several possibilities. • Better ventilation (houses are cooler) • Natural lighting quality (a more radiant house) • Saves energy (less lighting needed) • Adjustable mechanism for improved thermal comfort, ventilation and lighting • Ample community space

SOLUTIONS PRESENTED BY THE RAISED FLOOR INNOVATION Ventilation

IbnuKhaldun in his magnum opus ‘Muqaddimah’ stated that the most important aspect of city planning is the presence of moving air. There should be maximum air movement. The rows and rows of terrace housing somehow pose a tricky problem for air movement. Yet there is a potential to increase the air movement in terrace housing design. The traditional Malay house with its raised floor design captured wind of higher velocity. It provides for cross air ventilation, which is an important aspect of passive design. The terrace housing with the raised floor innovation could provide with air movements throughout the housing scheme. In addition, it could also provide an alternative floor construction with the inclusion of the adjustable floor louvers. This would therefore helps the floor ‘breathes’ naturally. The adjustable floor louvers could assist in diverting some of the cross air from under the floor into the house and through to the rear.

Lighting

The long and narrow orientation of the terrace house limits the amount of natural lighting penetration. Most terrace house relies on mainly the openings of windows from the front and rear of the house to bring light in. The raised floor innovation could enhance the light qualities into the house with the use of floor openings. Such openings can be incorporated in any suitable part of the house. The whole construction of the house could also be integrated with Industrialized Building System (IBS) and the openings be in modular form and added or subtracted according to the home owners’ preference.

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Thermal comfort

Another important strategy with the raised floor innovation is the consideration of various construction materials for its floor component. Our modern terrace housing is designed incorporating reinforced concrete floor. Concrete has heat retention and radiating property. In the daytime it soaks up heat and radiates it back in the evening and at nights. The raised floor innovation allows for the use of timber as its floor system. The combination of timber flooring and reinforced concrete construction will eliminate much of the problems of thermal comfort. In addition to that, the floor openings could incorporate devices as the adjustable floor louvers to divert air in and through the house for better air circulation and the floor boards itself could also have gaps to allow for air.

Privacy

One of the planning elements that cause privacy violation in terrace housing design is the direct visual connection from outside to inside. This has never been a major problem in the traditional Malay house design as a direct eye level visual is never possible. In the traditional Malay house, the privacy gradient begins at the house lawn and increases in level to the serambiand finally to the rumah ibu or mother house. The rumah ibu or mother house is separated by units and doors from the anjung or serambiwhich form the front part of the house. The rumah ibu presents the innermost sanctum of the family and only relatives and family members are allowed. In our modern culture, the rumah ibu is located on the upper floor and is disconnected from the formal male dominated front portion of the house. Children when exiting the house often disrupt the conversation of elders in the

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living room without respect. The raised floor innovation could therefore provide an alternative exit from the uppermost level onto the ground level without even passing through the living room.

Social Aspects

In contrary to the use of the front porch or the serambiof the terrace house, the anjung or the serambidepanof the traditional Malay architecture presents us with many social functions. It can be used by the men for conversation area, siesta and khenduri or function. The dapuror kitchen at the rear of the traditional Malay house would then be used in support of the khenduri by preparing food for the occasion. The modern terrace house on the contrary, would undergo massive transformation as soon as it is available for occupation. When house owners renovate their porch into a serambidepan, the have forgone not only the privacy distance but also the potentially social aspect of the house. The raised floor innovation would thus assist in recreating the many social aspects long been missing in our community. It could be designed to accommodate a space with many functions. The space could be designed for social function gatherings, food preparation area, playing area for children, place for gardening and even the drying of clothes or parking.

Environmental

The most important aspect of the raised floor innovation, however, would be the immediate solution to the severe flash flood that has hit Malaysia in the recent years. The traditional Malay house has acknowledged the problem of flood and has adjusted the raised floor level accordingly. Therefore it is wise that we give it a serious consideration for our future development. It could very well be Malaysia’s architecture identity.


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CASE STUDY - I Tanjong Jara Beach Hotel and Rantau Abang Visitors’ Centre Kuala Trengganu, Malaysia

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CASE STUDY - II Salinger Residence Bamgi, Selangor, Malaysia

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Bibliography • ICOMOS Guatemala: Authenticity and vernacular architecture • What Is Vernacular Architecture? By Nick Ladd • The traditional Malay house • Under one roof by Lim Jee Yuan • Natural” Traditions:Constructing Tropical Architecture in Transnational Malaysia and Singapore by Jiat-Hwee Chang, University of California at Berkeley • The Aga Khan Award for Architecture; TanjongJara Beach Hoteland RantauAbang Visitors’ Centre Kuala Trengganu, Malaysia • Taing cues from the past: Increasing the liavility of terrace housing in Malaysia though the raised floor innovations; Architectural Research Group UKM, Department of Architecture, Faculty of Engineering, University KebangsaanMalaysia,Malaysia. • Redefining the Vernacular in the Hybrid Architecture of Malaysia thesis by Stefanie Sim • Internet

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Malay House, Vernacular Architecture of South-East Asia  

This is an academic research study that I worked on. The research has been done on traditional vernacular architecture of South-east Asia, e...

Malay House, Vernacular Architecture of South-East Asia  

This is an academic research study that I worked on. The research has been done on traditional vernacular architecture of South-east Asia, e...

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