Cool but endangered conical houses get preservation treatment in Indonesia

Yori Antar
© Yori Antar

Building 'green' isn't just about using the latest and greatest technologies -- it can also be about preserving time-honored, local building traditions that respect regional cultures and have been proven to be climatically appropriate over the centuries. Striving to preserve the ancient typology of conical-shaped worok homes, Indonesian architect Yori Antar worked with the Wae Rebo community to build several new worok structures on the remote Flores Island of Indonesia.

© Yori Antar

As part of his ongoing "Rumah Ansu" project which aims to preserve Indonesian building traditions all over the country, Antar initiated the Mbaru Niang Preservation project with the community on Flores Island to ensure the survival of the worok vernacular, which consists of bamboo, rattan and wood tied in a distinctive, conical form and covered with thatch.

© Yori Antar

Designboom relates some of the background story:

The rattan palette and thatched roofs have been a hallmark of the architectural language of the remote island; however, when the group of touring young architects realized that there were only four of these unique homes standing, two of which were badly in need of repair, a project to preserve the typology was born.

© Yori Antar
© Yori Antar

A collaboration between these designers and locals was thus quickly formed; the project itself has documented in detail much of the traditional techniques for posterity.

It's interesting too what this type of dwelling imparts about Wae Rebo culture in the manner it's built. The worok consists of five levels: the first being the living quarters; the second for storage; the third to store seeds; the fourth for food and the topmost is reserved for offerings to the ancestors. The process uses impressive age-old joinery techniques (no nails!), and like other traditional methods that have survived the world over, translate the values of kinship and the richness of the Wae Rebo identity.

© Yori Antar
© Yori Antar

The collective efforts of the architects and the island's community have been noticed internationally, and the project has been shortlisted for an Aga Khan award this year, in addition to getting a nod from UNESCO last year. More over at Designboom and the Aga Khan Awards.

Tags: Architecture | Indonesia | Preservation

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