The kampong house : architecture and culture of the Malay vernacular in Peninsular Malaysia

by Lee, Ho-yin

Abstract (Summary)
(Uncorrected OCR) Abstract of thesis entitled

The Kampong House:

Architecture and Culture of the Malay Vernacular in Peninsular Malaysia

submitted by

Lee Ho Yin

for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Hong Kong in June 1998

The kampong house represents the traditional form of dwelling of the Malay people in Peninsular Malaysia, and its architecture encompasses the crystallization of Malay socio-cultural development in the past several thousand years. Today, Malay society is rapidly transforming from its traditional agrarian-village past to a modem industrial-urban future. As a result, the kampong house has lost much of its heritage value as people become indifferent to or ignorant of its cultural importance.

Despite its important cultural significance, much of what has been learnt about the kampong house is inclined towards the technical and aesthetic aspects of its architecture: the method of construction; the building materials used; the quality of the design in terms of climatic-adaptation and economy; and the aesthetic differences among the various regional styles of the houseform. Beyond the technological, functional, economic, and aesthetic understanding of the architecture of the kampong house, however, there remain two crucial and fundamental questions: why the kampong house is built the way it is, and how the built-form is related to the people who create itthese areas have yet to be addressed in any of the published materials to date. To umavel these unexplored aspects of the architecture, the kampong house

must be examined from a (pre- )historical and socio-cultural perspective, and only by such an approach can we truly understand how its existing architectural form and tectonics are derived.

The thesis proper is divided into two main parts. The first part, covered by chapters 2 and 3, is an attempt to reconstruct a picture of the probable origins of the houseform and the evolutionary process of the architectonics through a comparative study of the traditional houseforms of the various Austronesian cultures in the Indonesian archipelago. The conceptual source of the kampong house's design and tectonics, as the chapters explain, could have been derived from the socio-cultural experiences of the Austronesian island cultures which have an ancestral link with the peninsular Malay people. The second part, covered by chapters 4:, 5 and 6, is an attempt to provide a discussion of the existential meaning of the architecture in the minds of the very people who create and shape the house for their spiritual well-being as well as for practical purposes. This is carried out by analysing the underlying meaning of the various age-old Malay customs, beliefs and practices found in the building process of a kampong house--from its inception, site and material selections and construction, to the inauguration of the completed building into the kampong community.

The concluding chapter brings the thesis to the present. This section examines the transformation of the kampong houseform and its embodied cultural traditions under the impact of socio-economic and technological developments of the modem age. In addition, Islamic revivalism in Peninsular Malaysia today presents a further challenge to the animist- and Hindu-based folk-cultural traditions of the kampong house, in terms of its many rituals, taboos and ceremonies. The thesis concludes with stressing the fundamental importance of maintaining the continuity of the architecture of the kampong

house as a living tradition through a full understanding of its socio-cultural embodiments.

Bibliographical Information:


School:The University of Hong Kong

School Location:China - Hong Kong SAR

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:vernacular architecture malaysia buildings structures etc


Date of Publication:01/01/1998

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