Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Semai house: A study of Semai architecture

AFTER more than 4 years, the aging Sri Semai bamboo house, a traditional house of the Senoi sub-tribe has been completely rebuilt. The new house, built over 30 days by four traditional Semai builders without a formal plan is predominantly bamboo in nature. Bamboo,which grows an inch a day is plentiful in Pos Betau. Bamboo is also use to make water raft, fences, fishing rod,cooking utensils, blowpipes & weapons. Bamboo sprouts or shoot, is also edible.

The floor of the house and its walls are all made of bamboo. So is the veranda flooring. The house structure is made of local tropical hardwood which the Semai can harvest from nearby forest without having to obtain a licence from the Forestry Department. The roof is made of dried Nipah leaves. 

It has five windows which opened upwards. One of the window slides open - a new innovation for a bamboo house. The only 'modern' material used is the ceiling. Canvas is used to prevent leakage over a longer period of time. According to the builder, longevity of the house can be attained when the entire house is given the smoking treatment - smoking the house with a small fire from under the house for a day. Another method used is to brush the entire house with used motor oil to prevent termites.

The Semai house can accommodate between 8-10 people. It faces the serene Betau river with a view not to be missed. Come visit us for a close up of what the fast-disappearing bamboo house is like. You'll probably end up staying for a couple of days.

A traditional Semai bamboo house

The veranda facing the river

A view to die for

View from inside

Picture yourselves here, reading a book on a lazy afternoon.

The house from another angle

The back portion of the simple house

The stairs leading to the veranda made from tropical hardwood

The veranda is a combination of tropical wood and bamboo

The roof is made of Nipah leaves woven cleverly together.

One of the 5 windows which open upwards

A slight innovation - a sliding window with grill.

The floor is made from a bamboo plant spread open. It feel 'rubbery' when you step on it.

The floor of the house rest strongly on a row of wooden structures made from tropical hardwood

The chief 'architect, contractor, and builder' of the house with his Semai son. A puppy also followed them to keep the his child occupied during construction of the house.

The wooden structure of the roof. Canvas ceiling also acts to water-proof the roof eventhough the Semai said the Nipah roof can prevent rain from seeping in.

The inside of the bamboo house

The view from the left of the house

The stairs to paradise...

The 3 'layers' of the Betau river. Normally the sandy beach will disappear after  a rainfall.

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