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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.
The island of Bali is only one of thousands of islands that make up the Indonesian archipelago geographically located between Singapore and the north-western end of Australia. Bali is a relatively small island with an area of just over about 5500 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 beautiful volcanic mountains defines the island into a northern and southern region. Bali's highest mountain at more than 3100 meters, is the most sacred to the island's Hindu religion.
Bali is an island of temples. The Department of Religion has cataloged more than 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 meru, the way 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 temples.
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 before the Hindu epic and is 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 Kosala-kosali and through 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.
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 Bali.


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