More than a century later, we are still building homes to mitigate the effect of the elements. “There are two things that will never change when it comes to designing homes – weather and comfort,” renowned Malaysian architect, Ar Kam Pak Cheong, of BEP Akitek says. “In the old days, Malaysian houses had verandahs, deep overhangs, courtyards and terrazzo floors to keep cool, and cross-ventilation designed in.”
The home has however changed in many other ways since the halcyon days described by Bird and Kam. “Somewhere along the way, people travelled and saw others living in glass boxes and decided to bring the style back to this region. But it didn’t suit the heat so we ended up relying on air-conditioning, which then cuts out the wind that cools the atmosphere. Then, at one point, the Balinese style became fashionable and that suited our weather well, but that trend faded as well,” says Kam.