Learning From Vernacular Architecture in Indonesia
bY : Asmaul HusnaStudent of Urban and Regional Planning Department,
Sepuluh Nopember Institute of Technology Surabaya, Indonesia

Now days the existing of free land is decreasing by the increasing of land use for development. That is why today a lot of people who work in urban and regional sector plan how to create a suit building for the existing condition of land and environment. Less free space for green that make no more pollution filter for air is one of the problem of the use of land for development. Other effect of development is decreasing the value of tradition or cultural in a region or country especially in Indonesia.

Vernacular architecture can be the answer for those problems. Vernacular architecture is a term use to categories a method of construction which uses locally available resources to address local need. It tends to evolve over time to reflect the environmental, cultural and historical context in which exists).1 Vernacular architecture is architecture without architect. Actually there were a lot of building based on vernacular architecture already existed in Indonesia since along times ago. But day by day together with the change of century and the coming of globalization era. Now, some building bases on vernacular architecture still exist in Indonesia but just in little number.

Indonesian Vernacular Architecture

Indonesian has a lot of local architectures with many characteristic and with the manner of which is rich very spread in our archipelago. Local architecture types are in all sort of area in Indonesia. Characteristic of many Indonesian architectural styles are village houses. There is a distinctive style of traditional housing unique to each ethnic group in Indonesia called Rumah Adat. Apart from some small differences and diversity of styles, traditional homes of Indonesia built by peoples with a common Austronesian ancestry, share a number of characteristics such as timber construction, varied and elaborate roof structures, and pile and beam construction that take the load straight to the ground. Raised on stilts, posts and pillars beautifully carved and painted with images of guardian spirits and ancestors, animal and human figures, spirals, and floral and geometric patterning. In many communities the house is regarded as a spiritual entity, whose construction involves many rituals and superstitions. It forms the focal point for community, ancestry and social standing.

Indonesian local architecture also gives the great ethnic diversity existing among its peoples and the vast distances separating its scores of islands in the Pacific. The traditional buildings are rich with decorative heritage.2 Traditional village life is defined by colorful images of common structures–thatched rice barns, threshing houses, public meeting halls, and family compounds, often distinguished by steeply pitched roofs and stilt foundations. Black-and-white drawings augment the text, detailing building methods, materials, and symbolism.

Many people have never known, even it is true people not yet given the name at architecture those type. We may name architecture him of vernacular, anonymous architecture, rural architecture, original architecture (indigenous), natural architecture (spontaneous), or anything, clear but it is local architecture, very typical, which woke up traditional of pertinent society culture.

The Change of Indonesian Vernacular Architecture

Indonesian Vernacular traditions are being affected by current changes in ecology, culture, economics and technology. This is the scheme how the ecology, culture, economics and technology could change the vernacular tradition;

Those are how the change of ecology, mixing culture, technology and economic development has changed the vernacular architecture. The effect are related each other, the ecology is affected by the technology then the technology is affected
by the condition of economic in Indonesia. Economic also brought effect to the culture and so on. The architectonic concepts of Indonesia have been pronouncedly affected by the

multifarious cultural influences brought along by several invaders, colonizers, missionaries, merchants and traders.

Traditionally, the most significant foreign architectural influences that have affected the building styles and techniques of Indonesia have been Indian, but included Chinese and Arab, and more recently European influences which have been important since the 18th & 19th centuries.

The Vernacular Architecture that already affected by those effects are going to lose its characteristics and produce new architecture called modern architecture.

Antecedents the World nowadays have one architecture pattern. Materialization of is “Modern Architecture” so called also as “Architecture International Style”. This Pattern is result of from progress and growth of 19th century technology and resulting some of requirement and clauses of life become; is same relative societies in world. Ownership of building technique, technological develops; build. Industrial product construction material and also standard education of architect/same technician, ad for and apply everywhere, what later; then strengthen tendency of architecture face in metropolises and towns in world become Language and tone3. In big cities (In Indonesia), the vernacular architectures are almost disappearing and if this condition is let by the peoples and government of Indonesia, The Indonesian next generations will be never ever see their traditional architecture anymore. The worst, all of what Indonesian Traditional architecture has now will lose.

In all societies, the main causes of environmental degradation are resource extraction and the generation of wastes by households and industries. Realistic strategies for mitigating these impacts require an understanding of both the technologies by which resources are transformed into products, and the lifestyle choices that shape household use of such products. A lot of traditional buildings and environment have to be unloaded and broken effect of implementation of plan enlargement of road, street, or development “facility” new for environment (such as center shopping), ad at town storey; level, sub-province and district.

The biggest problem in Indonesia today is the image of traditional or vernacular architecture seems out of date or out of trend. The lifestyles of people in this modern era make people choose the modern architecture. But foreign people from other country attracted to the traditional building that still exist, that make some places keep the existing of traditional architecture or traditional building for tourism.
The Advantages of Indonesian Architecture

Vernacular architecture has a lot of advantages, not just in it relation to the nature and environment but also to the culture. Some of nature sources are renewable, but culture it can be renewable or not renewable according to the awareness of the people to save it. The vernacular architecture is one of the characteristic of a culture in a country. So, we can Imagine what will happened Indonesia when it lost one of its characteristic.

With the now day’s conditions of Indonesia4, there are three5 important principles and precepts that can be found in Indonesian Vernacular architecture:

Six Principles of Green Architecture
(Robert & Brenda Vale)6
1. Conserving energy
2. Working with climate
3. Minimizing new resources
4. Respect for users
5. Respects for site
6. Holism

Precepts of Biological Design
(John & Nancy Todd)7
1. The living world is the matrix of all design
2. Design should follow, not oppose the laws of life
3. Biological equity must determine design
4. Design must reflect bioregionality
5. Projects should be based on renewable energy sources
6. Design should be sustainable through the integration of living systems
7. Design should be co evolutionary with the natural world
8. Building and design should help heal the planet
9. Design should follow a sacred ecology

Every big tree could produce 4,580 kg Oxygen per year. Human needs about 2.9 kg Oxygen per day or its about 1,058.5 kg Oxygen per year. If a house consists of 4 persons so they need 4,234 kg Oxygen per year. So, planting a big tree in the front yard of the house will fulfill the need of oxygen and fresh air all along year. Moreover, every tree which is plant has the capacity cooling air same as the work of 5 unit’s air conditioning (operate 20 hours per day).8

Make the wrong choices now and future generations will live with a
changed climate, depleted resources and without the green space
and biodiversity that contribute both to our standard of living and
our quality of life. Each of us needs to make the right choices to
secure a future that is fairer, where we can all live within our
environmental limits. That means sustainable development.
Prime Minister Tony Blair’s foreword to the UK Sustainable
Development Strategy 2005
Indonesian vernacular architecture full filled the stipulation of health and good house, with natural ventilation and green space. Not just good for human but also good for the earth. What should be done to relief or rebuild the trend of Indonesian Vernacular Architecture is

First thing that should we do is analyze the environment smash. Such as the potential of disaster in a place, characteristic (Geological, climate and morphological). Places which have a lot of volcanoes of course have a big potential for earthquake. This analysis important for mitigation system.

After that we choose the suit model of Vernacular architecture based on the analyses. Then look the latest trend of modern architecture. Combine both of architecture, so we will get the modern Architecture without leave the vernacular architecture. Publication also very important. Not just publication of the model of architecture but also the publication of the regulation. So the product of the plan and also architecture itself will be strong.

In Indonesia, the free land for new building is very difficult to find because not just the population of human, the population of building that uncontrolled also become the problem. The new question is, is there still a place for vernacular architecture in this century? And the answer is yes. The new modified vernacular architecture will be able to be built. Why? Because the majority of vernacular architecture in Indonesia build in vertical line. The new modified vernacular architecture also can answer the problem of less free space for green in Indonesia, where now days we see a lot of houses and building in Indonesia didn’t obey the regulation about minimum 30%-20% space leave for green9.

Those are all how the vernacular architecture saves us. Learn from vernacular architecture same like learning from the experience. So let us learn much more vernacular architecture because experience is the best teacher.

Asmaul Husna


Dawson, B & Gillow, J 1994, “The Traditional Architecture of Indonesia”
Adhi Mursyid; Busranto, 2007, “A Study Analysis of Construction Building ”
Sprin, Anne Wiston, 1984, “The Granite Garden”
John & Nancy Todd, 1984,”Bioshelter, Oceans Arks, and city Farming: Ecology as The Basis of Design ”
Rully Syumada ,2007, “Hutan Alam Indonesia (Indonesian Nature Forrest)” WALHI Presentation on Forrest Campaign WALHI, 2007
Purnomo, Borneo Publication, 2005 “Relativitas”, Adi;
Majalah Serial Rumah/Arsitektur, Cetakan I Maret 2007, “Kayu & Aplikasinya”, PT. Prima Indosarana Media;
Anonimouse, 2004, judul “Hijau – Dari Gerakan ke Desain Hingga Politiknya”,
Republik Indonesia Act, No.26, 2007.



Assalamu’alaikum Warahmatullah Wabarakatuh… (May God save and bless You)


(By Ana E. Pineda)

Everyday, every week time goes by. Every once in a while you feel like time goes by so fast. It gets so sad knowing that as time goes
by things change and you change. Sometimes you’d do anything to go back to the safer times. When days past you’re scared, scared of what the future holds you, terrified that you won’t survive the real world. As time goes by you get older and the days become shorter. You never know what kind of problems tomorrow will bring .Will it bring any at all? Since you get older you think more about each day. You look so far into the future you can picture weddings, birthdays, and funerals. It’s all so depressing you never know how your life will turn out.

(The End)

Your Life is Your Times.. Life is when you take a time to breath and let the air go in and out of your bronchus.

Can anyone answer how many time they have wasted to tahe breath? or how many breath that they have take?

No one can answer.. no one can count.. cause uncountable

This life is just for a moment.. and This life is limited..

Who knows when you thake your breath right now it is your last time to life,

Who knows when u take in the air you wont be able to take it out..

Because the limit..

Who Knows…

(Asmaul Husna “Una”)