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Disassembly and Assembly in the Malay Building Culture

Mohd Rashid, Aiman (2018) Disassembly and Assembly in the Malay Building Culture. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

Asian vernacular architecture is generally dynamic, progressing and constantly transforming. The significance of Asian vernacular values lies in the culture, identity and memory of the people rather than the fabric or preserved artefacts. Likewise, the vernacular traditional Malay houses are a manifestation of the craft process and meanings embodied in the people, their building practice and artefacts. However, the Malay building culture is diminishing while the numbers of tukang or master craftsmen is declining, which adds to the loss of traditional knowledge and skills in Malay house building culture. The study investigates the traditional craft of Malay house-building within the present in order to identify the legacy of Malay craftsmanship concerning knowledge and skills of tukang and their apprentices. Furthermore, the study explores contemporary Malay building practice and inquiring how traditions were and continued to be conveyed towards building participants. The unstructured interviews with tukang, experts and non-experts, while observing building activities were used to provide insights of the Malay house building culture within contemporary. The methodology adopted is relevant as much of the craft knowledge and skills are embodied and performed, rather than articulated in oral or literature. The study concluded that Malay architecture is rooted not in the tangible built fabric but in the knowledge and dexterity of tukang and the craft process relating to materials, tools, measurement and bodily movement. Similarly, the meaning of Malay craftsmanship is defined by tukang and embodied in their practice. However, tukang is more than simply a builder but has a spiritual role that connects the Malay cultural beliefs to the Malay house and the building process. Hence, the study implies that the Malay house building is a form of a spiritual practice emphasising the value of culture, memory and religious identity rather than purely narrating the structures. Furthermore, the findings of the study suggest that essential qualities of craftsmanship, knowledge and skills in Malay house-building are exemplified subliminally within the actions of buka-pasang or disassembly and assembly. The study demonstrates that the practice of disassembling and assembling existing Malay structures, was and still remain as a socially communicative act in transmitting building traditions. The study characterised the disassembly and assembly as a building process involving dyadic knowledge of technical (strategy) and spiritual (cultural) that manifest the poetics, procedural, ritual and somatic means of Malay house-building culture. Therefore the study asserted that performing disassembly and assembly afford to a sense of retracing footsteps of past mastery as an embodied heritage experience – hence comparable to the apprenticeship-style of learning that demonstrates the process of mimetic, causal learning and reflective cognitive process. Eventually, the study expresses that the values of Malay cultural heritage are not in the static heritage artefact, but the physical and spiritual interaction between artefacts and the people in the present. The answer to the loss of heritage and the decline of traditional building practice and knowledge it offers is through disassembly and assembly, where the study views this process as a catalyst in overcoming these shortcomings.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > School of Architecture (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.766546
Depositing User: Dr Aiman Mohd Rashid
Date Deposited: 18 Feb 2019 09:35
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2019 20:06
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/22827

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