Common spaces and a connection to nature make traditional Balinese homes a template for the green design of the future.
In traditional Balinese homes, residents wake up in the cool of the morning in their private bedrooms, walk through a rustling tropical garden to the kitchen to prepare their breakfast, and then enjoy it together in an open pavilion as the sun rises in the sky. the air around them warms and the day begins.
The homes draw on local knowledge and knowledge of the area to regulate temperature, provide access to greenery, and encourage both privacy and communal living. The design of the houses supports the physical well-being and mental health of the residents. It is a blueprint for the next generation of green design worldwide.
Traditionally, houses on the Indonesian island of Bali are part of a property shared by several related families. The grounds include separate pavilions for private rooms, living areas, and ceremonial activities, as well as a kitchen, barn, and family shrine for residents to worship ancestors. There are green areas between the different buildings.
This design contributes to a sense of belonging and community and has been maintained through generations. The same sense of belonging connects home design and mental health: spaces where residents can feel at home promote relaxation and well-being. The community living and the connection to the place of residence also contribute to the feeling of togetherness.
Having a place to return to stimulates a sense of continuity, stability, and permanence. Privacy is also important: it gives residents a sense of control over their surroundings and promotes rest and relaxation.
By 2050, an additional 280 billion square meters of buildings will be covered worldwide, and most of these buildings will be in Asia. The new buildings will be vertical and will focus on urban areas. High-rise buildings tend to create a sense of loneliness as their design reduces social interaction between residents.
As people spend more and more time at home, building design becomes important not only to provide safety, warmth and comfort, but also to promote the well-being of the occupants.
Instead of just focusing on energy and water efficiency, designers of sustainable buildings could consider human health, well-being and experience. Traditional homes in Bali have maintained their style over the years, using materials adapted to local conditions. Houses consist of several buildings arranged around a Natahan open space or courtyard.
The courtyard design and spacing between buildings allows for adequate air circulation and promotes comfortable indoor temperatures – particularly beneficial to residents’ mental health as Bali is often hot and humid.
Every day, the design of the houses promotes a virtuous cycle. Around the buildings, cooler air temperatures are maintained in the early morning and at night. As air warms up during the day, it moves from the inside out and escapes upwards, keeping the inside temperature cooler. In the afternoon, the walls, floor and spaces surrounding the courtyard are warm, providing comfort when the outside temperature drops.
The pavilions in front of the enclosed spaces have little to no walls, let in plenty of natural light, and encourage a seamless connection between indoors and outdoors. The placement of the buildings within the site leaves space between them for gardens. These views of the green enhance sanity through visual connections to the natural environment.
The distance between the building walls and the composite perimeter wall reduces noise pollution from traffic in front of the house. Good landscaping and vegetation significantly reduce noise levels in the buildings as well as in the yard within the site.
The buildings face inwards towards the courtyard, creating a closed composition that conveys a sense of security from negative influences outside the site. A small gate and low wall in front of the gate also provide security and protection for the occupants of the site – important in terms of privacy and mental health.
Before modern healthy building strategies are implemented, it is important to review their precedents. Learning from the past does not mean reinterpreting previous architectural approaches, but collecting information for current strategies.
Historical local knowledge together with technological developments will not only add aesthetic value, but also contribute to healthier housing, healthier residents and a healthier population.
- This article was originally published under Creative Commons by 360info. 360info addresses the world’s key challenges as broadly defined by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. But goes even further by providing research-driven solutions. It is an independent not-for-profit public information service headquartered in Melbourne and hosted at Monash University. 360info works with many experts, but only engages academic authors with relevant and demonstrable research expertise.
- Ni Wayan Meidayanti Mustika is a lecturer at the architecture department of Warmadewa University in Bali, Indonesia. She is interested in sustainable architecture and green building. She is a Green Professional Member of the Green Building Council Indonesia. She stated that she has no conflict of interest and does not receive any form of specific funding.