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Design Essay – Traditional Interior Architecture are more Sustainable, or not?

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Architecture is a combination of art and technique of designing. It shows the characteristics of a city such as their environment, history, and the details of their daily life (Kuiper, 2009). It is the main connection that bring us back to the past and make us understand about what had happened. Gerardo Shulman is an architect who was born in Buenos Aires, Spain said that architecture building is one of the main attractions for a tourist to visits. Tourists who go to the building that previous locals lived at, get to know about their daily routine and activity (Shulman, n.d.).

By looking at the detailing on a traditional architecture building, tourists be able to see the connection between the building and previous local. Tourists get to identify the tradition of the country by studying its crafting on the architecture because in the past, crafting always bring out a meaning or story. Besides that, tourists get the knowledge of how previous local build their shelters and houses in a situation that selection for building materials is limited and technical knowledge is not strong (Shulman, n.d.). Other than that, the local have to create a house that is resistance enough to endure the harsh environment and the changes of temperature (Kuiper, 2009). Therefore, the material used for the building such as doors, windows, walls and roofs is very important (Do it yourself, n.d.). The researcher will use Malay and Chinese traditional houses as an example to elaborate the usage of material and why past people used them. The houses that are being research is from Malaysia. Bamboo is the largest member of the grass family and also remain evergreen in a whole year. Bamboo is a colony plant. This is why it uses energy from the existing plant to produce more plants to expand its root system which makes it grow faster and wider (Lewis Bamboo, 2017). Bamboo concentrated in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Bamboo mostly grow in tropical and subtropical regions with good rainy season climate and heat conditions. The countries that are professional in bamboo production and bamboo resource development is China, India and Japan. Asia-Pacific is the world’s largest bamboo area, it holds 80% of bamboo area in the world. The south-east of Asia-Pacific is the world’s bamboo center of origin and also one of the modern distribution center. China, India, Thailand and Malaysia is the main bamboo producing countries (Bamboo Industry, 2018). Before processing the bamboo into a wall, flooring or construction material, it has to be completely dry by using the air dried method. Fresh cut, green bamboo is not preferable to use in building construction. Other than that, bamboo that is less than 3 years of age is to be avoided for construction as it is not mature enough. Preferably 4 to 6 years of age bamboos are used in construction (Guadua Bamboo, 2009). Nowadays, bamboo flooring is widely used in many country as it is easy to manufactured into veneer type of flooring which makes the interior space looks natural (Kottas, 2011). Another advantage of using bamboo is because of its high flexibility which is idealistic for those who are living in earthquake regions. In 1999, earthquake struck Colombia’s coffee region. Around 1,000 people died because they were trapped by fallen concrete structures. On the other side, survivors that manage to went through this earthquake lived in bamboo structures such as old farm house (Noto, 2013). A Malay traditional house named Rungus longhouse is located at Sabah, it mainly uses bamboo as their construction material. This is because bamboo can be easily found at their area as Sabah is surrounded by abundant greens. Other than that, bamboo is a fast growing grass, when it is aged between 4 to 7 years old, it can be harvested and act as a construction material (Ashby, 2016). So, past people do not have to wait for a long time to harvest them. Transportation and manpower expenses for construction material can be saved up as bamboo is a light weight material, it makes them easy to transport from one place to another (The Constructor, n.d.).

Other than that, bamboo can be easily shaped as its flexibility allows them to. Past people will cut the hollow bamboo from the middle and flatten them into a piece of bamboo that can be uses as wall. Without cutting or constructing the bamboo, it can be used as a flooring material for the long house as it is also known for its strength. Bamboo is earthquake resistant because of its flexibility and high tensile strength. If the bamboo collapse, it will not seriously injured the occupants that are living in the house as bamboo is a light weight material. Even reconstructing the houses would not be hard because bamboo construction is easy and quick (Mukerji, K. and Stulz, R., 2016).

From the other side, the past people never air tighten their floor, ceiling or wall. This allow fresh air from outside to pass through the gap and provide cross ventilation to the longhouse. Cross ventilation is a natural feature that provide comfort and coolness to the interior space, and at the same time, it also able to remove moisture from the house. In the regions that are suitable for bamboo to grow are generally warm and humid, which makes the cross ventilation more important for the house. Bamboo constructions’ ability can satisfy these requirements, which is why it is the main material for longhouse (Mukerji, K. and Stulz, R., 2016).

At their time and even now, the longhouse usually being used by five families or more. They share the house, eat their daily meal together and play together. At night, the temperature are lower compared to the temperature in the afternoon. It brings cool air in to the interior space, even when the occupants are sleeping, they won’t feel hot and uncomfortable. The other name for wood is Timber which also known as lumber (Ellwood, 2018). Timber is a material that can be use fully from inside to its outside. It can be used for a building’s skeleton structure and also finishes product for interior and exterior (Farrellly, 2009). The outer bark of a timber can be process into chipboard which are commonly use now as a study table’s top or display rack. Follow by sapwood that is thicker and stronger than the outer bark are used to build furniture such as table, chair and rack. Other than that, it can be used as an interior’s flooring, wall or outdoor furniture such as the structure of pergola. The heartwood of a timber is normally used as a column or beam. It is strong and hard enough to withstand the live load and dead load of a house.

Most of the framing for construction is softwood, it is cheaper than hardwood and plentiful sources. For hardwood, it is usually used as column, beam and other woodwork. Hardwood is much more expensive than softwood but better appearance (Ballard, 2006). Before processing the timber, it has to be dry up in order to let the moisture that are in the timber to evaporate. If it is not being able to dry up, the moisture in the timber will grow into green mold or even worse, it will cause corrosion and fell down if nature impact such as wind and rain are applied to it.

Timber is the current trend as the warm aesthetic of it looks natural and comfortable if it is being used in an interior space. It also provides acoustic and strength performance (Architecture and Design, 2012). Timber can be turned into sheets to apply in the interior’s wallpaper as it can be easily bent round corners and door edges (Lefteri ,2005). Timber can be long lasting if it’s being treated properly even the generation pass (Jodidio, 2015).

Timber is Eco-friendly, sustainable and renewable construction material. Most of the country that supply timber will re-grow more timber after they harvest the timber. This is to let the source of timber will be continue to be in available status. Many kind of species for tree produce different colours, textures and qualities of timber (Dalton, 2017). This provides various selection for the occupants to choose according to the mood, colour and texture that they wanted. It can be easily install and construct with simple equipment which can save up the energy needed for constructing it. Building a timber frame is faster than brick build as timber frame can be cut and build beforehand. This can saves time and money for building the structure. Most of the past people in Penang used timber to build their house’s column, beam and wall. Timber is a source that is easy to find at that time and easy to be constructed. In the past, families stayed in a two storey or three storey house, the room distribution for those family is being arranged with the amount of family members. Therefore, there are a number of families who lived together. To build the house, men from every family will work together to harvest the timber and to build their house. So, manpower at that time is not a problem even though timber is heavyweight. They will use the heart of a timber to make it as the column, beam and frame of the house as the heart of a timber is very strong. After that, they will cut the timber into sizes and smoothen their surfaces to make it as the wall.

They pick timber to construct their house is because timber is durable, it can withstand the load that are input onto of it. Well-seasoned timber which is timber that are completely dried out can last longer than the one that are not being process correctly, it can tolerate natural impact such as wind, rain and sunlight. While building a timber wall, the thickness does not have to be as thick as a brick or concrete wall because of its content. By using timber to build the house, it can save up the construction costs and manpower.

Other than that, timber is a cost efficient building material that is suitable for outdoor structures and products. Due to its natural appearance and green to the environment, plus its long lasting performance make it a wise selection for construction. It is easy for builders or designers to cut or drill into the shape that they want, it is very convenient to them as timber is easy to work with. Besides that, timber is an eco-friendly material. It can be reuse or recycle when it ages which is good as it will not cause damages to the environment (Landmark Pro, 2016). For example, it can be reconstruct into wood furniture or wood lighting that are trendy nowadays.

Houses that are build up with timber wall are able to enjoy its insulating properties as it will not let 100% of the sunlight to pass through the house. This makes the house cooler as heat from the outside could not pass through the wall to the interior. It makes the occupants living in it feel comfortable. A good insulated home need less energy to cool down the space which means the occupants who are using the space can saved up their electric bills (Dalton, 2017). In conclusion, bamboo and timber is a sustainable material that should be used in constructing house and building. They are cost efficient and strong which is a win-win situation for builders or designers and occupants. They both can decrease the heat wave from coming into the space and make the space comfortable and natural. The reason past people used them as their main building material is that they are easily found, which is convenient to them because at the time, finding a material that can withstand the natural impact and easy to harvest are hard. Other than that, they also came out with the construction method to connect the bamboo and timber which is a challenge to them as technology at that time is not advance yet.

Sustainable materials also can save cost and energy despite to its easy to find and grow. From the case studies above, the materials used in the buildings in the past are more sustainable than the material used now. This is because that nowadays people wants to earn more money by mixing different materials together to make something more cheaper and sold in a higher price which makes it less strong and sustainable. This causes the buildings that are build are less sustainable than the past. This makes the buildings not long lasting and need to be changed frequently which in the end is not cost efficient. By using materials which are sustainable when building will allow it to last a longer time and does not need to be replaced is more efficient. Therefore, the use of sustainable material should be used even now to ensure the life span of the building to be long and can be enjoyed by the younger generations.

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