Page C1.1 . 07 March 2007                     
ArchitectureWeek - Culture Department
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The Sundanese House

by Gabriella Mihályi

Three hundred steps lead down to the Sundanese village of Kampung Naga. Here, in this valley of West Java, Indonesia, the people consciously maintain the knowledge of their ancestors and their traditional lifestyles in a close relationship with nature. This philosophy extends to their construction methods using local materials of timber, stone, bamboo, and palm leaves.

The first 100 steps are surrounded by large, leafy ebony trees. From the next 100, the rice fields on the valley floor are visible, along with glimpses of tiny white houses with black roofs. Descending the last 100 steps, the visitor, accompanied by a requisite guide, sees the everyday logic of valley life. The hills above provide the materials of village life — water, wood, and food — and below is the river that flows under the village and carries away waste.

Kampung Naga, or Dragon Village, is one of the few Sundanese villages in West Java where the people steadfastly maintain traditions despite the proximity of modern influences. In their architecture, this means functional simplicity and a uniformity accented with small differences in details.

Here, the house is not only a building but the center of life. In the Sundanese language, the word for house, bumi, is the same as the word for Earth.   >>>

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Houses and fish pond in the Sundanese village of Kampung Naga, in West Java, Indonesia.
Photo: Gabriella Mihályi

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Path between houses.
Photo: Gabriella Mihályi

 

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