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Home » Environment & Nature, Guides, Religion

The Disappearance of Environmental Conscious Architecture in Balinese Temple  

by on Wednesday, 10 January 2007One Comment | 9,349 views

Pura (temple), the sanctuary of Hinduism in Bali now undergoes a serious drawback on architectural diversity and environmental conscious architecture. The renovation and restoration of Pura (temple) all over Bali show an annoying uniformity in architecture and building material. The Pura (temple) from Karangasem on the east to Jembrana on the west, from Buleleng on the north to Badung on the south imitate the architectural design of The Besakih temple (the mother temple of Bali) which used black lava stone from mount Agung as a main building material.


It is understandable that the culture is changing from time to time, and the architecture of Pura (temple) cannot escape from this change. But an important Balinese value, Desa, Kala, Patra (place, time and circumstance) is missing in midst of this architectural uniformity. The Balinese culture has a great diversity based on the Desa, Kala, Patra (place, time and circumstance) concept, each village has its own way and interpretation in implementing the Hinduism and Balinese culture, frankly speaking each village has its own culture that is different from the others. This diversity is also found in temple and building architecture, each Pura (temple) in Bali represents the characteristic of that particular area. The Bukit area is well known for its limestone, this stone is used as a main material for temples around the Bukit.


The Pemecutan Clan (descendant of King of Denpasar) has a privilege to used Chinese plates in its Pura (temple), it is understandable since Denpasar is a trade center of south Bali and Chinese merchants are numerous in this area. The Pura (temple) in Badung and Tabanan regency use red brick as a main material of temple building since clay is abundant in these areas. The Pura (temple) in Gianyar use combination of red brick and porous stone. The Pura (temple) in Karangasem regency use black lava stone from mount Agung as main building material.


These unique characteristic of Pura (temple) is in mortal danger since the restorationist and renovationist are in full sway. They do not give any consideration on the compatibility between the temple architecture and the surrounding environment, their only purpose is to ensure that the Pura (temple) is following the latest trend of using black lava stone.


The ‘not to preserve’ tendency of the restorationist and renovationist is based on the Balinese view on Godliness. The phrase ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’ is foreign to Balinese mind. In Bali, this phrase is changed into ‘new-liness is next to godliness’. For the Balinese, new temple structure will ensure the holiness of the temple since the old structures of the temple have been polluted by the worldly stains.


In my point of view, there is nothing wrong with the new structures and new architectural design as long as they observe the Desa, Kala, Patra (place, time and circumstance) concept which gives a strong emphasis on environmental conscious architecture.

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