WIT Press

The Minangkabau House: Architectural And Cultural Elements


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15 - 25




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Paper DOI



WIT Press


A. Bahauddin, S. Hardono, A. Abdullah & N. Z. Maliki


This paper studies the sustainable design and cultural elements that are found in the traditional Minangkabau house in Western Sumatera, Indonesia and in Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia. The matriarchal influence on the architecture features a unique regional style. The architecture is known to be laced heavily with cultural values, customs and rituals and reflects the people’s understanding about designing architecture that is in harmony with nature. The house serves as a residence, a hall for family meetings, and for ceremonial activities. With the Minangkabau society being matrilineal, the house is owned by the women of the family who live there – ownership is passed from mother to daughter. The houses have dramatic curved roof structures with multi-tiered, upswept gables to mimic the horn of the buffalo. The objectives of this research are to analyse the matriarchal influence on the architecture; to investigate the architecture in terms of its sustainability issues as well as the traditional philosophy and cultural issues associated with the architecture. The methodology employed for this research includes reviewing the existing literature on the house to enable understanding of the space planning of the house. Other literature looks into cultural issues that comprise customs and traditions relating to the house supported by the field research in the Minangkabau villages in Malaysia and Western Sumatera. This is done simultaneously with the interview process of the locals and the visual data collection of the architecture. Architecturally, the house transpires that the dwelling-house is represented in the forms of space visualising the dwellers’ culture. This research will ultimately venture into the understanding of the sustainability issues found in the design of the house and the sustainability of cultural beliefs applied in the rituals associated with the architecture. Keywords: Minangkabau house, sustainable cultural and architectural elements.


Minangkabau house, sustainable cultural and architectural elements