This book is entitled ‘The Resilience of Tradition‘ because it seeks to identify contemporary architectural ideas, intentions and actions, be they simple or complex, which inherently try to embody, express, or articulate the Malay identity or local cultural identities.
Immortality through architecture is a leitmotif which runs throughout The Resilience of Tradition: Malay Allusions in Contemporary Architecture, our featured book of the week. Within its fifteen chapters, beginning with features of the vernacular Malay home and concluding with sustainable ideas for the future, authors Shireen Jahn Kassim, Norwina Mohd Nawawi and Noor Hanita Abdul Majid attempt to address increasingly relevant questions like how and to what extent contemporary Malaysian architecture is influenced by Malay culture, values and forms, and if the evolution of Malay architecture even has a place within “the soul-crushing banalities of the concrete jungle”. Incorporating elements of traditional and vernacular architecture within modern settings are not by themselves novel ideas, but attempts to balance the tension between imparting aspects of sustainability and tradition in the face of climate change and commercial interests are some of the challenges explored in this book.
The Malay vernacular tradition is essentially a timber-based architectural tradition, and the architecture is intrinsically environmentally-conscious, embodying sustainable principles, design ideas and tectonic solutions. The transposition of such forms and principles onto modern construction and methods using modern materials such as steel, masonry and concrete is not straightforward. Past efforts of alluding to cultural traditions have merely adopted abstract cultural expressions without understanding the underlying principles.
This book compiles attempts by architects and builders so far to respond to two critical agendas – the sustainability agenda and the cultural agenda. In the era of climate change, the challenge facing building professionals and designers in Malaysian and Southeast Asian cities is how to develop and expand sustainability strategies which are culturally rooted in local genius and regional identity. Globally, there is growing awareness that culturally-responsive strategies in architecture can be aligned with advancing sustainability standards in buildings and contemporary urban development. By reviewing modern interpretations of Malay forms, values and cultural elements, the authors hope to unearth layers of theoretical fundamentals and underpinnings to realise a deeper relevance or significance regarding the evolution of a more transformative position in Malay regionalism.
About the authors: Shireen Jahn Kassim, Norwina Mohd Nawawi and Noor Hanita Abdul Majid are academics at the International Islamic University of Malaysia and specialists in diverse fields such as sustainable design, bioclimatic technology, health planning, and Asian and vernacular architecture.
The Resilience of Tradition: Malay Allusions in Contemporary Architecture | 296 pages | 24.2cm x 17.3cm, Softcover | ISBN: 9789675719318 | 2017, Areca Books | RM90