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Vernacular Architecture Design Application in Contemporary Architecture Design as a

Venture to Achieve Environmentally Friendly Design and Cultural Heritage

Irvan Apriliawan

Indonesia has a tropical climate condition with lots of sunlight during the day, that
condition triggers hot temperature and high air humidity. The average monthly temperature in
lowlands (coastal area) is about 28 0C, with average RH about 80%, while in highland, the
monthly average temperature is around 24 0C, or even lower, with RH about 82% [1]
. These
conditions challenge the architect when they have to design a facility with a comfortable indoor
environment. Most cases, contemporary buildings will be using air conditioner system to
achieve comfortable indoor environment without considering to applicate passive design like
cross-ventilation system to make comfortable indoor air environment that more efficient and
low cost.
Using air conditioner as the solution for achieving the comfort in an indoor environment
is contradictive with a statement from an Indonesian notable architect Frederich Silaban.
Silaban has said in his article that “AC usage in tropical buildings is not an absolute need” [2].
It is possible for a building in a tropical climate does not use the air conditioner. The statement
from Frederich Silaban suggests us to reconsidering about air conditioner usage in tropical
climate buildings. Moreover, if the buildings reduce or even do not using the air conditioner, it
will be a big change for the environment greater good. Silaban has proved his statement from
his work like Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta that does not use air conditioner system in the praying
area while it is still comfortable.

Picture 1. Frederich Silaban Portrait Picture 2. Istiqlal Mosque, Jakarta

Source: kaskus Source: liputan6

On the other hand, Indonesian predecessors also can live without air conditioning
system, they respond to their natural conditions to live save and comfortable. The traditional
(vernacular) houses hold social significance in society and demonstrate local ingenuity in their
relations to environment and spatial organization [3]. Indonesia has lots of vernacular
architecture design but if we just observe the essence of responding to nature, they have lots in
commons. Henri Maclaine Pont, an architect from Netherlands realized that Indonesian
vernacular designs are suitable with its climate, he has integrated vernacular architecture and
modern architecture to make his works in Indonesia that successful like Aula Timur and Aula
Barat ITB. These buildings also do not use the air conditioner system.

Picture 3. Henri Maclaine Pont Portrait Picture 4. Aula Timur ITB, Bandung
Source: blogpenemu.blogspot Source: id.wikipedia

There are lots of research that discuss energy consumption in tropical climate buildings.
Generally, the biggest portion of energy consumption in tropical buildings always falls to air
conditioning systems. The portion of air conditioner system usage is varied but often higher
than 40% . Another research revealed that air conditioner energy consumption portion in
tropical building up to 57% [5].
Those conditions are really bad for the sustainability of the environment. Usually to
produce electricity in Indonesia, using coal as a thermal source. This method can pollute the
air and destruct the land for mining the coal itself. Every year, our earth is getting hotter and
caused climate changes[6]. Climate changes have lots of bad effects in our environment like the
increase of sea surface, extreme weather, animal extinctions, and other effects. We have to find
the solutions for our environment sustainable or we will lose our beautiful earth.

Picture 5. Electric Steam Power Plant Pollutions Picture 6. Coal Mine Site
Source: kabarinews Source: mui-samarinda.blogspot

Recently, contemporary architecture in Indonesia does not have any certain identity and
seems contrary to merge with nature. It is so unfortunate for a country like Indonesia with more
than 300 tribes living inside this country but their cultural heritage just becoming exhibition
displays in museums[7]. Indonesian people have to learn from their cultural heritage and never
forget about that beautiful cultural heritage. If these conditions continuously happening, not
just the environment will be broken, but the cultural heritage will just become articles in books

Picture 7. Contemporary Buildings in Jakarta

Source: tanahairkita.wordpress

Research Question
As the background described above, the following points are the research questions:
1. Can Indonesian architecture vernacular design achieve a comfortable indoor
2. Can contemporary architecture design achieve a comfortable indoor environment
with and without air conditioner?
3. How to applicate form of Indonesian vernacular architecture design into
contemporary architecture design?
4. How to applicate Indonesian architecture vernacular ventilation design into
contemporary architecture design?

5. How significant the merge of contemporary design and vernacular design affected
indoor environment comfort assessed by quantitative and qualitative methods?

Research Hypothesis
If the Indonesian vernacular architecture design applicate into contemporary
architectural design, then the contemporary architectural design can achieve a more
comfortable indoor environment without artificial machine help like air conditioner. That
conditions also can achieve significant efficiency in energy usage that will make buildings in
tropical climate area more environmentally friendly. After that, the aesthetic of the design result
will be advancing and can be an inspiration for the architect to applicate vernacular design in
contemporary design while preserving the cultural heritage.

Research Method

Indonesian Design
Vernacular Function and
Design Aesthetic

Function and Design Exploration Design Result


First Phase Second Phase Third Phase

Diagram 1. Research Process Plan
This research will be divided into three phases. The first phase of this research will be
using study cases method. There are two kinds of cases that will be used in this research, one
kind is Indonesian vernacular architecture design that already built. The other one is a
contemporary building built in tropical climate place. Every case will be assessed focusing on
indoor temperature and humidity measurements using thermometer and hygrometer to know
how far these cases can achieve a comfortable indoor environment. Especially for the
contemporary design building will be assessed in two conditions, with air-condition and

without air-conditioner. In addition to temperature and humidity measurements (quantitative
assessment), qualitative assessment involving architecture expert and users will be used to
assess the case from function and aesthetic aspect.
The second phase of this research will be using an observative and explorative method.
At this phase, existing Indonesian vernacular buildings and existing contemporary buildings
will be observed to know how they work to achieve an indoor comfortable environment.
Aesthetic aspect from each case will be observed too. After that, the result of observations will
be studied and will be developed to find the best solutions for vernacular design adaptation in
contemporary design.
The last phase of this research will determine the result of this research that is
corresponding to the hypothesis or not. The result from the second phase will be applicated and
will be assessed with two methods of assessment that is qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative
assessment will be involving experts and user judgment that asks to feel and assess the design
result. Quantitative assessment will be using standard measurement tools that are thermometer
for temperature and hygrometer for humidity. The assessment results will be calculated to
conclude the result of this research.

1. Karyono, Tri Harso. 2015. Predicting Comfort Temperature in Indonesia, an Initial Step to
Reduce Cooling Energy Consumption. Jakarta: Tanri Abeng University.
2. Budiharjo, Eko. 1996. Menuju Arsitektur Indonesia. Bandung: Alumni.
3. Schefold, R., Nas, P., & Domenig, G. 2004. Indonesian Houses: Tradition and
Transformation in Vernacular Architecture. NUS Press.
4. Kartini, Paskalia. 2017. Analisis Statistik Konsumsi Energi Listrik pada Bangunan Gedung
Yayasan Widya Dharma Pontianak. Pontianak: Universitas Tanjungpura Pontianak.
5. Rengganis, Cetra Palupi. 2009. Audit Energi pada Gedung Perkantoran di Jakarta Selatan.
Depok: Universitas Indonesia.
6. NASA. 2016. Global Temperature, (accessed: July 30th, 2019).
7. Kuoni. 1999, Far East, A World of Difference. JPM Publications.
8. Kothari, C. R. 2004. Research Methodology Methods & Techniques. New Delhi: New Age
9. Leo, Sutanto. 2013. Kiat Jitu Menulis Skripsi, Tesis, dan Disertasi. Jakarta: Erlangga.