Intelligent Architecture of Rumah Gadang, A Traditional House from West Sumatra

One of the most popular pavilion in Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, Jakarta, is West Sumatra Province. This pavilion showcase a big and beautiful traditional home of Minangkabau ethnic, named Rumah Gadang, means big house. In West Sumatra, it has also name Rumah Bagonjong, means spired roof house.

Minangkabau people live on highland of West Sumatra, with Padang as their capital city of the province. In their traditional matrilineal society, the house is owned by the mother of the family who live there; ownership is passed from mother to daughter.

The house is called Rumah Gadang (big house) not because of its big physical shape. But because of the function of this Minangkabau cultural building. Besides being a residence, Rumah Gadang is also used as a place of family deliberation and ceremonial activities. The house is made elongated to accommodate few families. It has lots of windows, making the air circulation more smoothly.

Rumah Gadang looks prominent with its dramatic curved roof design, resembles buffalo horns. Its Framework is made of wood. The shape is made to resemble a boat. The does not use nails as a binder, but a wood peg as a connection, it makes the building has a very flexible character. In addition, the entire poles are not implanted into the ground, but it rests on a flat, wide stone. It is designed to withstand very strong earthquake shocks, because West Sumatra is located on areas prone to earthquakes. Not like East Sumatra, the West is located on tectonic’s plate. This great architecture is the proof that their ancestors had more advanced thinking than their time.

Now, more and more Minangkabau people tend to build house permanently and modernly. Hopefully Rumah Gadang is not abandoned by Minang people and become rare in the future. You can see some Rumah Gadang in West Sumatra or just visit Taman Mini Indonesia Indah in Jakarta.There is a famous place in West Sumatra where you can see a village with lots of Rumah Gadangs, it is Kawasan Saribu Rumah Gadang (thousands Rumah Gadangs area). It is located in Nagari Koto Baru, District River Pagu Solok Selatan. As implies in the name, in this region, there are hundreds of Gadang houses scattered throughout the area, some of them are hundred years old.

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