Traditional and modern Betawi house concept


http://bopswave.googlepages.com/indonesiaflag.jpg Bahasa Indonesia

Probo Hindarto’s note:
Batavian house, or Rumah Betawi, is one of traditional house tipology in Indonesia, located geographically in Jakarta, Indonesia. “Betawi” is the word derrived from ‘Batavia’, previously the name of Jakarta city. The presence of ‘orang Betawi’ or Batavian/Betawi people is decreasing since massive development of Jakarta. This article is in Indonesian context.


Photo by masdm, http://www.flickr.com/photos/masdm/435991229/

Concept of modern Batavian/Betawi house

Betawi house concept is quite suitable for its geograpic location, and suitable for coastal area, because Betawi culture has been descended through generations with strong characterized culture and architecture. The house indicate the very truth Malayan architecture. One character of Betawi house is the attention to relationship of society and family, that is showed by verandah or terrace that welcome every visitor anytime.

The interior zoning of Betawi house composed of a verandah or terrace, middle room or family room, bedrooms surround middle room, and kitchen. The architecture typologies are ordinary house (not raised) and rumah panggung or raised house, because Betawi people live spread from coastal area to deeper area of the land.


Sumber gambar: http://www.eljohn.net/direktori/kota/pariwisata/kawasan/wisata/d000000000011676/rumah%20si%20pitung.jpg

One of interesting concept of ‘rumah Betawi’ is the concept of openness of the veranda or terrace that exist because Betawi people are easily socializing and open. The openness can still be used in modern house design with using verandah or terrace as replacement of living room. Even modern houses can be built or designed using modern materials, the openness can still be exist so that the character of Betawi house will still be there.

The difference between real Betawi house and the modern house

The difference between the two are;

  • Arrangement of rooms. In Betawi house, there is hierarchy of rooms; verandah outside (public area), family or middle room (semi public), the bedrooms and kitchens (private).

    In modern house zoning, the rooms hierarchy is no longer exist because it will be more liberated from tradition.

  • From facade design. Betawi houses are usually made of woods and bamboos that make them close to nature. The nature also make the houses friendly and fresh. While in modern houses, modern look usually exist of the use of new material like brick wall, glass, aluminum, etc. The ‘ethnic look’ of Betawi house can still be shown, like using traditional wood elements crafted with Betawi ornaments.

Inside modern house

Modern Betawi houses were influenced by Dutch emigrants, starting to use brick walls, followed by the use of other materials. This may vanish the unique character of Betawi house, because mostly Betawi houses were built with simple and natural materials.

To adopt Betawi house concept in modern context, then it will be necessary to plan how far the concept arise, like whether the wall still use wood and bamboo? If it uses Air conditioner, then we should use brick wall or other new wall material.

Then the shape of roof can be the same as Betawi house’s roof, like the shape of joglo, but we can use lightweight steel construction, for example. “Genteng” roof or traditional roof should be maintained for Betawi house character.

Room arrangement should follow the hierarchy; open verandah, family room and bedrooms, and kitchens, so that the values in Betawi tradition still present. Also in front of the house should be wide enough yard. Other characters are wide windows, that create sense of openness in terrace and with the use of traditional building material.

Main character of Betawi house is the front and open verandah, showing how open the Betawi people are. Other character like traditional roof form that has connection with Javanese architecture is Joglo, and other components like room zoning inside the house.

Interior and ornaments

In the interior, one aspect that is interesting is the unique ornaments which usually appear at doors and windows, ventilation and other part of the house. The ornament is influenced by Arabian, Portuguese, China and Dutch, and is one of the most unique character of Betawi house.


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by Probo Hindarto
© Copyright 2008 astudio Indonesia. All rights reserved.

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