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A Showcase of Tropical Architecture and Openness

Located along the earth’s equatorial line, Indonesia is the largest tropical archipelago country in the world. The high level of rainfall and humidity along with year-round sunshine are some of the tropical climate characteristics in Indonesia. These conditions are the reason behind the warm air temperature in Indonesia, ranging from 27-30°C at noon and 25-27 in the evening. This not only affects the habit and lifestyle of the people, but also the way buildings are designed.

Openness might be a suitable word to explain the result of the warm temperature in Indonesia. Thus, buildings with thick walls and small openings to generate warmth are rarely found in this country. Instead, we could easily spot buildings with thin walls, large openings, and extensive eaves as the reaction to the climate. These features, if planned well, could reduce the use of air conditioning and additional lightings during the day in a building. The plenty amount of sunlight could also help to make a house less humid, especially when there are openings that allow air circulation within the house.

The possibilities to integrate natural feature in tropical area are the domain where architects experiment the most. Openings alone, as one of the most primary approaches to integrate nature, could result in numerous design, for instance, the shapes of window and door as openings, or even rooms that are designed without bounding walls.

One of the examples of a house that integrates nature would be Inzaya House which is designed by Pipih Priyatna Architects. Located on a certain hilltop in Bandung, the house utilizes openness by the ample amount of floor-to-ceiling glass walls. These walls, which are fitted into dark-coloured metal frames, along with operable glass windows and doors, span across the house façade. The transparent aspect of this house allows abundant light, sweeping view of the city, and provide the needed warmth for its location.

Different to Inzaya House, AM House by Andra Matin offers openness through the absence of enclosed walls for the house’s common area. This openness is supported with extensive eaves to minimize rain splatter and harsh sunlight in the unwalled area. With this system, the house owner, which is also the architect himself, does not need to consider the use of air conditioning and excessive lighting, especially during the day. The openness also provides a unique spatial experience which varies following the weather condition.

There are many great examples of houses that implement openness to cope with the tropical climate of Indonesia. To see a curated collection of tropical dwellings, designed by selected architects in Indonesia, check the book Tropical Houses: Equatorial Living Redefined. Available for order through IMAJIBooks Publisher.

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