Preservation of the Mbaru Niang
Shortlisted project of Aga Khan Award for Architecture
Conical houses of ‘worok’ wood and bamboo in tied-together rattan construction with thatched roofs are the archetypal buildings of this remote island village. A group of young Indonesian architects in the habit of touring a part of Indonesia each year arrived to find four of the last surviving examples of these houses, two of which were in need of renovation. Symbols of unity in the family and the community, the houses represent a living culture; the villagers are guardians of this culture but the necessary building skills, having traditionally been handed down, from generation to generation, had faded from memory. The architects initiated and facilitated a community-led revival of traditional techniques enabling all the original houses to be rebuilt. In this a role was opened up to include university students who both participated in and documented this architectural preservation and cultural conservation project and continue to do so annually.