Factors and effects of changes in the spatial layout of Iban dwelling in Sarawak

Salfarina, Abdul Gapor and Muhammad Oliver, Ensor Silini and Daniel Ugih, Echoh and Haris Fadzilah, Abdul Rahman (2023) Factors and effects of changes in the spatial layout of Iban dwelling in Sarawak. Geografia-Malaysian Journal of Society and Space, 19 (2). pp. 64-78. ISSN 2682-7727

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Official URL: https://ejournal.ukm.my/gmjss/article/view/57892


A typical stereotype of the Iban longhouse as perceived by outsiders is a communal dwelling made from timber with compact linear building composition. However, this has changed over time due to several factors. The main objective of this paper is to find out the factors that cause changes in the spatial layout of longhouse and impacts of the changes. Understanding root causes of these changes are paramount to conservators and policymakers, enabling them to determine constraints in the event of conserving traditional longhouses architecture. The conservation of traditional longhouse is important for cultural tourism activities, as most of the foreign tourists prefer to experience the unique ambience of the traditional vernacular architecture together with the cultural activities related to its spaces, such as the ruai and tanju. This study is conducted using a case study method of two longhouses in Kapit and Sebuyau, Sarawak. Data collection includes in-depth interview and observation. Data analysis is done using building spatial analysis and historical timeline analysis. The findings show that although the Iban are still living in communal longhouses, there is an increasing trend showing their preferences to build and live in individual houses like the Malays and Melanaus in Sarawak. The changes in the spatial layout of the two longhouses are due to increasing number of household members, difficulty to access traditional building materials, especially timber, natural and fire hazard and characteristics of site topography that posed difficulty to maintain a linear extension of households. The implications of losing communal living will affect the sustenance of Iban cultural heritage, as most of the activities are related to distinct spaces in the longhouse. This will consequently lead to the loss of traditional identity and weaken social cohesion in the community.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Communal dwelling, Iban, longhouse, Sarawak, settlement pattern.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Academic Faculties, Institutes and Centres > Faculty of Social Sciences & Humanities
Faculties, Institutes, Centres > Faculty of Social Sciences & Humanities
Depositing User: Echoh
Date Deposited: 27 Jun 2023 08:01
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2023 08:01
URI: http://ir.unimas.my/id/eprint/42088

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