Malay Traditional House

When you travel through the country side, you will see a lot of Malaysian houses and villages. These villages are called "Kampongs" in Bahasa Malaysia. Notice that they are built with stilts below and they have large windows. This is mainly to keep the building cool and the stilts elevate the building to keep them away from floods.

Kampong houses are detached houses and they usually have no fences around them. The traditional Malaysian house serves the housing needs of the majority of people living in rural areas of Malaysia. It was evolved by the Malays over the generations, and adapted to their own needs, culture, and environment. Basically a timber house with a post and lintel structure raised on stilts, with wooden, bamboo, or thatched walls and a thatched roof, the house is designed to suit the tropical climate.

Malay houses are traditional dwellings, originating before the arrival of foreign or modern influences, and constructed by the indigenous ethnic Malay and Orang Asli (Aboriginal People) peoples of the Malay Peninsula and their related other tribes of East Malaysia (Borneo).

Whereas peninsular Malays have single extended-family houses, many of the Borneo people built rumah panjang or 'long-houses' hosting many families, each in its own 'apartment' with a common wide veranda linking the front.

Traditional architectural forms, such as tropically-suited roofs and harmonious proportions with decorative elements are considered by traditionalists to still have relevance. However traditional buildings require significant maintenance compared to modern construction.

Using renewable natural materials including timber and bamboo, the dwellings are often built without the use of metal including nails. Instead pre-cut holes and grooves are used to fit the timber elements into one another, effectively making it a ‘prefabricated house’. In Sarawak and Sabah rattan ropes were used to fasten bamboo pieces together.

Although nails had been invented and in later houses used minimally for non-structural elements (for example, windows or panels), structural flexibility was a benefit which nailing inhibited. Without nails, a timber house could be dismantled and reconstructed in a new location.

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