Traditional house window into village life

  • Metro News
  • Saturday, 11 Jan 2020

Visitors at Lampu 2019 spending time at the brightly lit Malay house. — Photos: LOW BOON TAT/The Star and courtesy of PjH

VISITORS at the 7th Light and Motion Putrajaya (Lampu) 2019 were mesmerised by the details of a Malay house replica built by Putrajaya Holdings Sdn Bhd (PjH) for the event.

PjH general manager Mhd Zaini Mohd Mukhtar said the challenge was to create a true-to-life traditional Malay house and village atmosphere within the tight modern setting of Perbadanan Putrajaya building’s courtyard.

“We avoided the simplistic approach of using model replicas of a few traditional Malay houses from different states as it would create an atmosphere akin to a show gallery.

“Through my researches on traditional Malay architecture while pursuing my degree in architecture, I proposed that the project team build a rumah panggung which is a “stage house” concept.

“Essentially, it is an elevated house on stilts that showcase the four major elements that make up a traditional Malay house, namely signature entrance stairs, vernacular roofs, ventilation through window and roof designs as well as adorned with decorations.

“Though the house is extremely compact, we are able to have visitors walk through the house and experience Malay culture and how a Malay house is able to complement it by having the stairs connecting to the serambi (verandah), a semi-private area versus the more private area of the main house, with intelligent screening of breathable wall, roof and window designs, ” he added.

Mhd Zaini said this project was in line with PjH Oxygenation campaign’s elements — “Breathing Life into Ideas” and “Breathing Life into Community”.

“Landed residential developments in Putrajaya from inception, has always adopted a modern open-concept in its masterplan, which resembles an urban village that promotes a more cohesive community.

“Not many people, especially the younger generation growing up in the city, know much about the traditional Malay house.

“So, the rumah panggung will give them a chance to experience and appreciate the beauty of Malay architecture and ingenious design which suits the climate and lifestyle of the Malay community.

“We are gratified that the Malay house was much appreciated by visitors.

“For example, there was a visitor from Melaka who came with his family and found the Malay house very nostalgic.

“He said that it brought back childhood memories, having grown up in a similar house setting in Melaka, ” he said.

The contractor hired to execute PjH’s idea was Tunas Hayat Sdn Bhd.

Its director Mohd Hazify Saari said he did a lot of research to make sure that he created the best rumah panggung.

“We only had seven days to complete the project from scratch. The biggest challenge was to get the materials as we wanted to keep it as authentic as possible.

“The roof is made from rumbia leaves. This was my first time working with rumbia leaves and there is a particular way to arrange the leaves for the roofing. I consulted another expert to show me the techniques.

“The pillars are usually made from hardwoods but were very difficult to get so we had to use steel instead to ensure that it could take the weight of the visitors. We are very conscious of safety issues as PjH has made safety its utmost priority, ” he said.

“Traditionally, the planks to make the walls would be soaked in river water for days for its natural colours to become more prominent and beautiful. But time was against us and we had to improvise by using plywood, so we got an artist to paint it to resemble authentic wood.

“Malay houses were also famous for its kerawang (woodwork cut in decorative patterns) as those days, it was a symbol of identity and status. It was made by artisans and the more elaborate the design, the more expensive it was. But nowadays, most are machine-cut.

“For the entrance stairs, we decided on the Rumah Melaka concept, which is wide and decorated in bright colours, ” he said.

Mohd Hazify said he also went to great lengths to get the right props to complete the overall look of the house in line with the Malay house theme.

“We also got antique collectors to loan us items like a teak wood gazebo, old scooters, bicycle and oil lamps, ” he said.

PjH corporate communication section head Mohd Hafiz Abdul Ghani said they were very pleased with the public’s response.

“From the first day, people were queueing for their turn to take a photograph in front of the ‘Melaka Stairs’. The crowd was so large that we had to station volunteers there to control the crowd.

“We also went the extra mile to have Malay cultural performances such as joget inang, gamelan, zapin and silat in front of the Malay house to create awareness and provide exposure to Malay tradition and culture, ” he said.

One of the many visitors touring the house was student Muhammad Ammar Adli Ramli, 18, from Perak.

“The atmosphere at the Malay house reminds me of my kampung during Hari Raya and kenduri when the kawah (cauldron) is brought out to cook big batches of food.

“People in the kampung always cook together to share the workload. It is nice to see a similar set-up here to give people a glimpse into kampung life, ” he said.

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