sdaarchi SDA Architect The Amazing Beauty of the Traditional Malay House | SDA Architect

The Amazing Beauty of the Traditional Malay House

The Amazing Beauty of the Traditional Malay House

The Traditional Malay House is a special dwelling distinguishing form western dwelling.  The Traditional Malay House  are dwellings which evolved over time. It was  influenced by the Ethnic Malay styles, Indonesian styles and the memorial cultural events which were celebrated then. The construction skills for traditional houses are being lost over the day. However the architectural forms, such as tropically roofs and proportions with decorative elements are considered by some to still have relevance.


Traditionally materials such as timber, bamboo, attap, zinc roof, rattan were used to construct the Malay house. Pre cut holes and grooves were used to connect the columns and beam. This gave flexibility and strength to the house. In Some homes Rattan ropes were used to fasten the members.

The roof is made is made of attap( a local thatched roof), laid over timber trusses. The roof may be curved to represent the shape of bulls horns as in case of Seremban Malay houses. The roofs may also be constructed of zinc sheets.

The walls are fixed with timber planks horizontally or vertically.

The flexibility of homes was essential to make shift from one place to another easily. Hence the use of nails was used to fix window and door. The advent of nails was rather a latter invention which was used rather moderately.


Traditional Malay House in Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak were built on stilts raised above the ground to keep animals and floods away as to survive in the remotes of the Malayan Jungle. The raised homes also provided ventilation from below and thus keeping the house comfortable.

The roof overhangs also provided cover from the tropical heat and heavy rainfalls.

Traditional Malay House

Veranda of Traditional Malay House

Veranda of Traditional Malay House

 were design with a Rumah Ibu, Rumah Dapur and Serambi. Rumah Ibu is the house proper, Rumah Dapur is the kitchen annex and the Serambi is the veranda.

The windows were constructed of adjustable window timber slants. The windows allowed wind to move into the home, and cutting the heat off, with the panels in a closed position.

The staircases are molded, the roof fascias are highly ornamented, carved timber lattices. This timber lattices are used generally at the floors to decorated the facades. The Gable ended roofs are similar to the Japanese, Thai, Cambodian and Sumatrans Roofs.

The houses in Malacca were influenced by the Portuguese Colonial Masters. The staircases are decorated with colored tiles

Please see our Traditional Malay House  designs in our website

Prepared by:Architect Perumal Nagapushnam

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