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Directory Home> Bali Art and Culture> Bali Architecture
 
BALINESE ARCHITECTURE - TRADITIONAL HOUSE
 
Joke aside, this Balinese concern with harmony has undoubtedly contributed to the creation of a genuinely modern, yet "indigenous" type of tourism architecture. Most of the hotels of Nusa Dua will go down in history as landmarks of post-traditional architecture.
More affluent now, the Balinese pull down old buildings to replace them with new ones whenever they can. Instead of the airy traditional family compound with its central yard and open living quarters under verandahs, more often than not there are now cramped rows of buildings of an indefinable style. Things are -still worse with large structures. When the Balinese repair temples, gates and village halls, they often pull down invaluable architectural treasures and replace them with similar concrete structures. The tripartite structure might have been kept intact, and thus be in accordance with the vaunted "Tri Hita Karana", but the damage is done.

The main obstacles to the conservation of the architectural heritage are cultural. Not only does the "Tri Hita Karana " ideology ignore conservation, but it also, tends to soothe the minds of the Balinese. Being repeatedly told, mantra-like, that their culture is based on the principle of harmony, many Balinese refuse to even consider that this harmony is threatened. Very few are really aware of the need to preserve their architectural heritage. Accustomed to seeing themselves through the eyes of others (the tourists) they often insist on the observation of dance, which is going to change anyway, but pay little attention to architecture, which normally has a much longer life-span.

Other obstacles to architectural conservation are social. Houses are privately owned, and temples are owned and ruled collectively by congregations whose members like the cheap statues and shrines of Gianyar style because they are official. Furthermore, they feel they own their temples and that no one should interfere. Imposing a conservation policy on these groups is risky and requires, time. When, for example, the Indonesian government and UNESCO tried several years ago to protect "Mother Temple" of Besakih, most Balinese protested as they saw it as a threat to their religious liberties. A good intention was misunderstood, perhaps for lack of information.
 
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