Traditional Javanese House Architecture – Bali Indonesia

The Javanese traditional house, or commonly referred to as the Javanese traditional omah, refers to the traditional houses on the island of Java, Indonesia. Javanese house architecture is characterized by the presence of dominant hierarchical rules as reflected in the shape of the roof of the house. Traditional Javanese houses have a very similar layout to each other, but the shape of the roof is determined by the social and economic status of the house owner.

The traditional architecture of Javanese houses was heavily influenced by Dutch colonial architecture in Indonesia and also greatly contributed to the development of modern architecture in Indonesia in the 20th century.

History of Traditional Javanese House Architecture

Javanese people have a close kinship with the Austronesian people. The reliefs on Borobudur Temple which were built in the 9th century also show that the Javanese house is the archetype of the Austronesian house. The arrival of the Europeans in the 16th and 17th centuries introduced stone and brick in house construction, which were widely used by wealthy people. The form of traditional Javanese houses also began to influence the development of Dutch colonial architecture in Indonesia. In the early 19th century, the house of the Dutch East Indies was made to resemble a Javanese house because of the shape of the house that was able to resist tropical heat and heavy rain, but was still able to circulate the air inside the house.

House Roof Hierarchy in Traditional Javanese House Architecture

In accordance with the structure of Javanese society and its traditions, traditional Javanese houses are classified according to their roof shape from the lowest to the highest, namely Kampung, Limasan, and Joglo.

Village house. The roof of the Kampung house is identified as the house of the common people. Structurally, the Kampung roof is the simplest roof. The roof top of the Kampung house rests on four central pillars and is supported by two layers of tie poles. The roof ridge is supported by a support with a distinctive North-South axis. This structure can be enlarged by expanding the roof from the existing roof section.

Limasan’s house. Limasan roof is used for Javanese family houses which have higher status. This type of house is the most common type for Javanese houses. The basic plan of the four pillars of the house is expanded by adding a pair of poles at one end of the roof.

Joglo house. The Joglo roof is the most distinctive and most complicated form of the roof. The roof of the joglo is associated with aristocratic residences (Keraton, official residences, government buildings, and Javanese or nigrat aristocratic houses). Today its owners are no longer limited to noble families, but anyone who has enough funds to build them. This is because building a Joglo house requires more and more expensive building materials.

Joglo roofs have several characteristics that distinguish them from the previous 2 types of roofs. The main roof is steeper, while the roof ridge is not as long as Limasan’s house. On the four main pillars that support the roof above there is a distinctive arrangement in the form of layered columns which are interpreted as intercropping. In addition, if the Joglo house is damaged, the repair process must not change its original shape. The Javanese believe that breaking this rule will have a bad effect on the residents of the house.

House building

Not unlike traditional Balinese houses, Javanese houses are usually built in a walled complex. The materials for the protective walls of the house complex were either made of stone for the houses of the rich, or made of bamboo and wood.

The ideal traditional Javanese house consists of three main buildings, namely omah, pendapa, and peringgitan.

Gazebo-like building. Pendopo or pendapa is a pavilion located at the front of the complex. This place is used for receiving guests, social gatherings, or ritual performances. The pavilion uses a joglo roof and is only found in the complexes of the houses of the rich. In some densely populated urban areas, stone walls will usually be erected around the pavilion.

Pringgitan. Pringgitan is the space that connects the pavilion with the omah. Peringitan is a place for ringgit, which means wayang or playing wayang. Pringgitan has the form of a village roof or limasan.

Home. Omah is the main house. The word omah comes from Austronesian which means “home”. Omah usually has a square or rectangular layout with raised floors. The center of the omah uses a limasan or joglo roof. The area under the roof is divided by wall slats into inner and outer areas.

Dalem.Dalem is a closed building and is further divided along the North and South axles into distinct areas. In the village and limasan house models, this division is used to distinguish between the front and the back. However, in the joglo house there are three more complicated divisions, between front, middle and back.

The eastern front of the dalem is where the activities of all family members take place and where all family members sleep on a bamboo bed, before children’s puberty. The center of the joglo house is affirmed by four main pillars. Currently, that part no longer had any special use. However, traditionally this area is where the censer is burned once a week in honor of Dewi Sri (the goddess of rice), it is also where the bride and groom sit at the wedding ceremony.

Senthong. Senthong is the back of the omah which consists of three closed rooms. West Senthong is a place to store rice and other agricultural products, while farming equipment is stored on the East side. Senthong is traditionally a luxuriously decorated room known as Dewi Sri’s permanent residence. The newlyweds sometimes sleep in Senthong Tengah.

On the outside or back of the complex there are several other buildings such as kitchens and bathrooms. A well is usually placed on the East side. The well as a water provider is considered a source of life and is always the first thing that is resolved when building a new housing complex. If the number of family members or family wealth increases, additional buildings (gandhok) can be added.

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