Sunday, April 24, 2011

Small wooden house of Arfak tribe in Kwau village of Arfak mountains

The small wooden house below is a typical traditional dwelling place of Hatam people. Hatam is one of the indigenous tribes who live in Arfak mountains of Manokwari regency in West Papua province of Indonesia. The house was built on a slope in Kwau village. I went there on 14 April 2011 with Ad Rappange - a tourist from Switzerland. Two crews from TOP TV - Nadia Siregar and Edo also went with us. Most of the traditional wooden houses have similar designs. The interior is not divided into smaller rooms like what we have in the city. The walls were made of bark reinforced with wooden sticks. The floor is made of bamboo supported by a lot of wooden posts. The Papuan do not use nails to join the wooden posts and beams. They tight them with split rattan. The houses do not have windows.
This traditional wooden house does not experience a lot of changes both in the design and method of construction. The only noticeable change that we can see in most of the houses is the roof material. In the past, the Hatam tribe used pandanus leaves as roofs. Now most of them have been replaced by corrugated metal roof called seng that is more resistant to rain. Because the houses do not have ceilings, the temperature inside the house is usually high during sunny days. 
The Hatam people like to grow flower around their houses. Although there is a high demand for fresh flowers in Manokwari city, they don't consider it as market or business opportunity. For them flowers are decorative plants that can beautify their houses and their Kwau village. The cool temperature in Kwau village makes the flowers grow well without any need of fertilizer. 
In recent years, villagers have constructed concrete houses in Kwau village. The concrete house actually is not suitable for them because the interior temperature will be colder at nights. However, they build the houses to show to other people that economically they are not poor. In most cases, I see that although they already have got a new concrete house, they still live in their traditional wooden houses that are warmer at nights. Kwau village is located on a slope in Arfak mountains some 1350 meters above sea level. by Charles Roring
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Monday, April 18, 2011

Wooden houses in Senopi

Wood as house construction material is still abundant in West Papua especially in District Senopi. From church, to villagers homes and from school to priest house, most of them were built with wood. The most popular tree for home building in District Senopi is Kayu Besi and Kayu Matoa. In the past, when chain saw and wood working machinery had not entered Senopi village, the indigenous Papuan built their traditional homes that were called rumah kaki seribu manually. The walls of these houses were made of barks whereas the floors were made of bamboo. For the roofs, they used thatched palm leaves. Today, we cannot not see that kind of rumah kaki seribu anymore. Most of the timber houses have been constructed from wooden blocks and panels that were cut using chain saw and other wood working tools.
The windows that we do not see in the traditional kaki seribu house design have been installed in the modern timber houses in Senopi. Many households in Senopi receive solar panels from the government as power resource for their radios and lamps. Unfortunately, the quality of these panels is low. Many of them cannot produce enough electricity anymore.
Although the houses are now using panels and blocks cut from big tree, their designs are not the same as the wooden houses that we usually see in Manokwari city. Most of the wooden houses in the city have floors made directly on the ground. Floors of Senopi houses are still around 1 meter above the ground adopting the traditional style of Rumah Kaki Seribu. The space under the floor allows air to flow freely and provides natural cooling for the house.  Wooden house is relatively an eco-friendly home. In addition, the empty space is mostly allocated for animals such as pigs, and chickens. So, it is not surprising if we hardly ever see any pigpens in Senopi. by Charles Roring
Also read: wooden house and alleyway of Kyoto

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wooden House Frame from Minahasa

Wood has been used as home construction materials since ancient times. Wooden house frame that you can see in this article is typically from Minahasa. The species of wood that is chosen for pillars is aliwoswos, besi (iron wood) and other hardwood that is available in the timber market. The walls are usually made of Cempaka wood (Elmeralia ovallis). People in the mountainous region of Minahasa choose wooden houses because they are more resistant to earthquakes which sometimes hit the region that is surrounded by several active volcanoes. Posts are strengthened or stiffened using braces that are bolted or nailed to the beams of the house to ensure that it will not collapse when hit by strong earthquakes.
Before the house is erected on certain location, its posts, windows, and doors have to be manufactured by builders in their workshops. They will build the house to check whether all the construction parts of have been made according to the request from the owner. When the house is complete, it will be dismantled and shipped to where it will be erected.
Because the wooden house from Minahasa has attracted a lot of buyers from various different islands in Indonesia and abroad, the length of the frames and other parts of the house has been shortened to fit the standard size of a big container. Customers who want to buy a wooden house from Minahasa have to make sure that the frames of the house have been cut from hard wood material such as iron wood or merbau. In addition, the wood panels should be from old timber. by Charles Roring
Also read: Wooden house from Kwau village in Arfak mountains

Titanic - a history to remember

This morning is 13 April 2011, tomorrow ninety-nine years ago RMS Titanic collided with an iceberg on her maiden voyage to New York into the Atlantic Ocean. RMS means Royal Mail Steamer. She was a vessel that was meant to carry postal mails across the Atlantic. Titanic was a passenger liner. Even though it was considered as a luxurious vessel, it was not a cruise ship like the Oasis of the Seas. Cruise ships do not see speed as an important factor in their services. Cruise ships emphasize their services on entertaining their passengers and on providing itinerary to places that have been famous as tourist destinations. It was the worst maritime accident in the peace time. We still remembere how the accident was relived in the film starred by Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack and Kate Winslett as Rose. Actually, naval architects who designed the passenger ship had divided the vessel into 16 main compartments and double bottom. The 16 compartments had also been divided into 44 watertight compartments. Meaning that when the doors of the compartments were closed, water could not enter. However, the temperature of the sea that was very cold had changed the structure of the ship's hull. The steel plate of the hull became harder when it was in cold water and lost its ductility. As a result the hull plate of the Titanic had been more brittle in icy water. When she collided with the iceberg, it buckled the ship's hull plate and broke the rivets allowing sea water to flow into the watertight compartments.

The tragedy of the Titanic ship was a great lessons for all of the people who were working in the maritime industry. Safety has now become the main priority of the operation of ships around the world. The lifeboats that are installed in every ship now have to be able to carry all the passengers and crews in case when the ships experience emergency situation at sea. Radio equipment has to be manned 24 hours a day when the ship is sailing and lifeboat drills have to be conducted on every voyage. 
We have got a lot of lessons learned from the sinking of Titanic. Now the maritime technology is more advanced and the rivet joints in ship's hull have long been replaced by welded joints. Inflatable boats have been invented too. These improvements in shipbuilding technique should reduce the number of ship accidents. However, the challenge to the safety of passengers and crews of ships is increasing. Piracy is considered a serious threat for ships. Merchant ships that sail near the Somali waters and Malaka straits are now becoming the main targets for the pirates. Dealing with piracy, international community through IMO give green light to governments to protect their ships with navy personnel and naval ships. Even though the sinking of large ships have greatly been reduced, we must not ignore the pirates and other threats. Never forget that the seemingly calm surface of the blue sea does not reflect that our ocean is always at peace. by Charles Roring

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Wooden house from Kwau village of Arfak mountains

The wooden houses that you see in this post were photographed when I was guiding tourists in Manokwari regency. This is a typical wooden house in Arfak mountains. The walls are made of tree barks that are strengthened by wooden sticks to create rigid structure. The indigenous people who live in the house make fire near their feet to keep them warm at night. This house was located around 1400 meters above sea level in the middle of the tropical rainforest of West Papua. This house is an eco-friendly home construction because it only uses organic materials for building it. Although the houses look very basic in their design and construction, they are more resistant to earthquake than the ordinary concrete houses that I usually find in Manokwari city.
The floor of the house is made of bamboo panels that are supported by small wooden pillars and beams below it. The space below the house is usually allocated for pigs. Hens and cocks fly to the nearby trees to sleep there at nights. In the past, the roofs of the wooden houses in Arfak mountains were made of palm leaves that had been arranged and woven together to protect the interior of the houses from wet weather. Today, the villagers prefer to use corrugated metal roofs that are more resistant to wet weather and will only need replacement after 10 or 15 years of use.
Under the free housing program from the social department, local government of Manokwari regency construct semi-permanent wooden houses whose design and types are not the same as the original design of the houses which the indigenous people of Arfak mountains usually build. Most the houses are not built above the ground. As a result, they are not suitable for the climate in the slopes of Arfak mountains that is very cold at night. The Arfak tribes still say that their traditional timber houses are warmer than the ones constructed by the contractors of the government's project. If you are interested in traveling to Arfak mountains in West Papua province of Indonesia, and need a guide to accompany you, please, contact me Charles Roring via my email: charlesroring@gmail.com
Also read:
Wooden house design of Losmen Amberimasi
Wooden house from tropical village of Senopi