Local, Tangerang-based architect Yori Antar started the Rumah Ansu project as a movement to preserve traditional houses and building technologies throughout Indonesia. The architect takes young designers to distant villages to both experience and renovate existing traditional homes– all under the premise that indigenous culture has time-tested methods for building effective and perfectly acclimated dwellings. Believing in the power of local wisdom has proved fruitful for the architect, who just earned a spot on the shortlist for the Aga khan Prize for architecture, shortly on the heels of garnering UNESCO Asia-Pacific Award for Cultural Heritage Conservation, specifically for his work with the Wae Rebo community in Flores island, Indonesia. In the ‘Mbaru Niang preservation’ the architect initiated a community-led revival of the vernacular ‘Worok’ homes, conical constructions of tied-together wood and bamboo.
The rattan palette and thatched roofs have been a hallmark of the architectural language of the remote island; However, when the group of touring young architects realized that there were only four of these unique homes standing, two of which were badly in need of repair, a project to preserve the typology was born. While the set of skills required to build the dwellings had been handed down through generations, the process was quickly democratized to include university students and the community at large and to rightly preserve the techniques from fading to mere memories. The project takes care to precisely document the building technologies, while materials are locally sourced and employ brilliant joinery techniques. The structures are imbued with more than the base requirements of a shelter– they are examples of a living culture, an architecture that inherits the power of family and humanistic kinship.
Yori Antar’s architecture posits that there is room for architectural values in the industry today; as he stated to the Jakarta times:
‘ if we want to build modern architecture, build ones that have soul.’