Bali architecture defined
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Defining Bali Architecture
The Balinese community is rich in traditions of music dance,
architecture and religion. Bali is home to such a beautiful
landscape and vivid culture, it is not surprising the island is
filled with inspired artists and performers. Ceremonial dances,
music and sacred songs are often performed for the benefit of
the gods. Loved by travelers for its lush, tropical scenery and
charming people, Bali is considered to be one of the most
magnificent places on earth. Spirituality and nature are
integral parts of everyday life for the Balinese, so one can
easily see why the islandís traditional architecture has a
peaceful presence to it.
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY
The island of Bali is
one of thousands of islands that make
up the Indonesian archipelago geographically located
between Singapore and
north-western end of Australia. Bali is a relatively small island with
an area of
just over about
sq/km. Originally inhabited by aboriginal peoples of uncertain
origin, Bali was colonized by a seafaring people, some four of
five thousand years ago. A range of
the island into
region. Bali's highest mountain at
meters, is the most sacred to the island's Hindu religion.
is an island of temples. The Department of Religion has
eleven thousand temples
on the island. Balinese temples are
not closed buildings, but rectangular courtyards open to the
sky, with rows of shrines and altars dedicated to the various
gods the Balinese worship.
The laws of traditional Balinese
architecture carefully specify the dimensions of a
a building must be constructed, the types of wood appropriate
for each part, and the ceremonies involved in its dedication.
If, for some reason, a shrine must be moved to another location,
the spirit of the shrine is first transferred to a special
offering, which is then placed nearby in a temporary shrine. The
original shrine is completely destroyed. None of its components
may be reused for any purpose. Often the materials are dumped
into the sea to insure that they are not unknowingly used again.
This practice is in contrast to certain other religious
traditions where the reuse of the remains of earlier temples is
considered to actually increase the sanctity and power of newer
TRADITIONAL BALINESE VERNACULAR
It is said that the traditional architecture in Bali originates from two sources.
One is the great Hindu tradition brought to Bali from India. The
second is an indigenous architecture
the Hindu epic
in many ways reminiscent of Polynesian building.
The science of building is held to be a sacred knowledge to
traditional Balinese architects.
The four directions of the Balinese compass are critical in
determining the lay-out and positioning of buildings. There is a
developed Balinese science of geomancy written in the ancient
palm leaf manuscripts. This is known as
these guidelines local designers can determine the best place to locate
the optimal positions for certain rooms of the building.
Often when a family is suffering bad luck or misfortune, the
first place the local witch doctor will look for is any
unsuspecting violations of the Balinese laws of building.
Using such natural materials as thatch roofing, bamboo poles,
woven bamboo, coconut wood, mud and stone they are organic
statements in complete harmony with the environment. Many of
these are temporary such as the offering houses set up before
harvest in the rice fields. Others use trees that will actually
keep on growing as the bamboo rots and returns to the mother
earth. The Balinese have always been particularly adept using
the bamboo and behind every Balinese house one can find at least
one stand of bamboo.
MODERN BALI ARCHITECTURE
The introduction of cement and other modern materials and the
rapid growth of hotels, galleries and new homes by international
architects have produced mixed results to the Bali style. The
opulence and ornamentation of many new hotels are often breath
taking. Nowhere else in the world would such wood carvings and
stone work be possible. Still the line between kitsch and a good
taste is narrow and too often people have failed to appreciate
the essence of Balinese architecture that in many cases has
become an amazing parody of itself.
The Balinese architecture is typically known for mimicking its
surroundings and mostly blending in with them. When it comes to
modern Balinese houses, walls are not compulsory, wood is still
everywhere, earth tones are dominant, and pitched thatched or
clay tiled roofs plentiful. The residences are often opening
onto gorgeous green landscapes, majestic mountains, or beautiful
coastlines, the homes herein ooze relaxing, meditative vibes.
The flourishing tropical climate of the island of Bali has
resulted in a very distinct residential architecture, which
makes use of a lot of indigenous materials. Large, pitched roof
overhangs typically manufactured out of thatch or clay roof
tiles, and the use of lots of wood and bamboo finishes. The use
of natural stone, plastered walls painted in earthy colours and
characteristic floor finishes are wood, natural coloured clay
tiles or natural stone finishes. To mimic Baliís beautiful
landscapes these traditional building materials & elements have
been reinterpreted in modern dwellings by means of tropical
landscape settings, courtyards often with wooden decks, swimming
pools and water features.
More and more South Africans relate to this architectural
Ďstyleí probably mostly because of the relaxing lifestyle and
opulence it represents but also the Bali style is very suitable
for the similar (sometimes tropical like) South African climate
and this style has been growing extensively in popularity both
here and internationally.
With such beautiful surroundings and rich architectural
heritage, one wonders why more people arenít rushing to move to