WIT Press

Embracing Nature And Culture: The Tropical Malay Spa Design


Free (open access)





Page Range

85 - 96




1,345 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


A. Bahauddin & A. Abdullah


The tropical Malay spa design associated with a traditional Malay Single’s House (Rumah Bujang) reveals a design construction in a setting that exploits the surroundings. It is strongly linked to the Malay heritage and cultural values. This paper explores the tropical design found in the Malay spa and how the spa activities are interrelated with the architecture that houses them. The Malay spa activities are glorified by the Malay people for the values of mysticism, spiritual enhancement, physical well being and emotional uplift and this architecture ensures the perpetuity of these cultural elements. This research ventures further into the design of the Malay spa, which can now only be found in small villages in the northern region of Malaysia and the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. The methodology employed for this research records the visual data collection, architectural drawing documentation of spa design and observation of the activities that take place. Interviews with the owners of spas and the people receiving treatment provide a primary source of information. The Malay spa design depicts a humble vernacular architecture that nestles in a setting planted with fruit trees, flowers, herbs and spices. The Malay spa design in a Single's House can be studied as one example of sustainable tropical design. Proper planning of this architecture and its activity must be explored by complying with the traditional Malay philosophy, rituals and customs. The traditional values of the Malay people are apparent in this Malay spa, which justifies its continuation and has long been viewed as embracing nature in every sense of existence. The architectural elements portrayed are made strong with the symbiotic relationships between cultural elements and the natural surroundings. Keywords: spiritual, rituals, natural setting, Malay spa, vernacular architecture, single's house.


spiritual, rituals, natural setting, Malay spa, vernacular architecture, single's house