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A Comparative Analysis of
Tropical Architecture features
of a Traditional Malay House
and Ting Residence by Wooi
By Nur Syazleen Binti Sies
FUNCTION AND SOCIAL
RESPONSE TO CLIMATE
1.What is tropical architecture and how to successfully design one?
2. What is the difference between traditional and modern tropical
architecture based on a typical Malay House and Ting Residence by
3. What are the factors affecting the design of the characteristic of
each; Ting Residence and Malay Traditional?
4. How does this factors affect the thermal comfort of the houses, Ting
Residence and Malay Traditional House?
5. How is the Ting Residence sustainable and what tropical architecture
feature does it adapt to achieve it’s sustainability?
It is well known that, Malay Traditional house is one of the most
sustainable tropical house design ever created. Taking hundreds of years
to develop to perfection with many trials and errors, our ancestors
designed a very well sustained house which respect mother nature, its
surrounding and react well to the tropical climate that we have.
Ting Residence is one of the best example to show the progress of how
the traditional Malay house evolve with the new construction methods
and technologies without ever leaving the spirit of being a traditional
Malay house. Though the look has uplifted and there are more spaces
added into this modern Tropical House, the architect never left the
thought of his childhood in designing this particular house.
What is Tropical Architecture
Tropical architecture is all about achieving
thermal comfort through the use of passive
design elements like sunshades, cavity walls,
light shelves, overhangs, roof and wall
insulation and even shading from large trees
to block the sun. It can look very traditional,
ultramodern or even high-tech. Passive design
play a big role in this climate because it is a
sustainable way is the process of achieving
this comfort level without the use of
• Malaysia is situated between latitude 1º and 7º North and longitude
100º and 140º East. It can be said that Malaysia is located in the
equatorial doldrums, with the characters of uniform temperature,
high humidity and copious rainfall all year long.
• As a tropical country, Malaysia experiences high temperatures, with
annual mean minimum temperature of 22ºC and annual mean
maximum of 34ºC while the average rainfall is between 190mm-
Basic Design Principle of Tropical Architecture
1. The external features of the building envelope
and its relation to the site should be designed to
fully utilize air movement. Interior partitions
should not block air movements.
2. Air velocity can be reduced when the interior
walls are placed close to the inlet opening or
each time it is diverted around obstructions.
3. If interior wall are unavoidable, air flow can
still be ensured if the partitions have openings at
the lower and upper portions. This is a common
strategy in the old Malay Traditional house, with
intricate wood carvings or wood louvres
4. Since hot air goes upward and cool air goes
downward, openings at the top of the roof and
lower part of the house to facilitate air change
5. It is generally cooer at night, so ventilation of internal spaces can be
continuous for nighttime cooling. This means designing the building
with operable windows to let hot air escape at night and to capture
prevailing night winds
6. To supplement natural ventilation, fans can be placed at various
heights and areas to increase comfort conditions. Fans are effective in
generating internal air movement, improve air distribution and increase
7. Window openings are advisable at the body level or evaporative
human body cooling and room width should not exceed five times
ceiling height for good air movement.
8. Sunshades and sun protection devices on opening reduce heat gain
and glare. And also help in internal day lighting. Louvres that are
adjustable can alter the direction of air flow and lighting.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN
TRADITIONAL AND MODERN TROPICAL
ARCHITECTURE AS REPRESENTED FROM A TYPICAL
MALAY TRADITIONAL HOUSE AND TING
MALAY TRADITIONAL HOUSE TING RESIDENCE
Rumah Ibu (Semi-Private)
FUNCTION AND SOCIAL
Gallery, Lobby, Living Area (Public)
Dining, Gymnasium (Semi-Private)
Bedrooms, Kitchen (Private)
Consist of three main space: Serambi (an area
for guests), Rumah Ibu (an area where activity
such as sleeping, family bonding is at) and Dapur
(Kitchen and Dining area). Since there are not
much activity is done, not much space is needed
The spaces are defined to provide better and
more direct activity spaces. Spaces like
gymnasium and living area are added to provide
the need of a modern family activities
The construction elements in Malay Traditional
houses are light timber-framed structures,
forming elevated floors, sloping long roofs with
large overhangs, louvered windows, timber or
woven bamboo walls and screenings (on the
The construction method is essentially RC
framed structure with brick infill. The salient
point here is that the concrete is unadorned. A
good part of the 230mm thick common brick
work is also left as fair-faced finish. The wall
plaster is left grey unpainted. Grey insitu
terrazzo is applied throughout the floor of the
house with local aluminium frames/windows
and local timber such as Meranti (doors), Yellow
Balau (ceiling) and Chengal (external deck and
timber screens) are utilised. The interlocking
curved roof is made of Zinc Titanium
Although Tropical Architecture are very direct and very simple as its
purpose is to build according the need of the climate, and its principle
of respecting the site. A lot of thought process went through in order to
successfully build an effective building.
It is obvious that the main purpose of a house was achieved in both
design and how important a role of space planning and materials used
in building a good house.
Thus, even though this two houses came from a very different eras, it
still hold the same value and the same principle
Tuffs, R. (n.d.). Malaysia The Malay House: Rediscovering Malaysia's
Indigenous Shelter System. By Lim Jee Yuan. Pulau Pinang: Institut
Masyaraket, 1987. Pp. 152. Illustrations, Glossary, Bibliography. Building a
Malay House. By Phillip Gibbs. Singapore: Oxford University. Jnl. of SE Asian
Studs. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 206-206.
Lee, C. (2012). Rethink : A New Paradigm for Malaysian Timber. Kuala
Lumpur: MPH Publishing.
Lim, J. (n.d.). TROPICAL ARCHITECTURAL STUDIES TOWARDS A SUSTAINABLE
FUTURE. Retrieved May 5, 2015, from http://jimmylimdesign.com/wp-