Traditional architecture and aesthetic techniques

All traditional buildings in Bali are designed based on the principles of Balinese Hindu traditions and belief systems. Balinese houses, palaces and temples are created as a collection of several structures within a walled enclosure, where each serves a unique function. The cultural and religious influence on the architecture goes back many centuries.

A Balinese architect will aim to create a sacred place in line with what they believe requires for a harmonious and balanced energy. Therefore Balinese priests also preserve the knowledge and guidelines for Balinese architectures.

Did you know? For a building to be built in Bali and legalized in official regulations, it is not allowed to exceed the height of a coconut tree (15 meters).

Contemporary Balinese Architecture Today

Bali’s architecture is not only very famous in Asia, but also globally recognized as a style. It combines a classy tropical lifestyle, with traditional elements creating a unique atmosphere. Most hotels, restaurants, commercial villas and private houses are both inspired by Balinese elements and contemporary architectural concepts. It can be seen in the aesthetics and the inclusion of Bali’s building materials, beautiful artistry and craftsmanship.

The art of Balinese architecture continues to grow, while Influences from various parts of the world can be found in many hotels, restaurants and other public places. All these millennial touches seem to unite into a harmony on this magical island.

The History of Balinese Architecture

Many buildings in Bali are designed based on the principles of a ‘sacred place’. Houses are meant to be built precisely in the direction of the sun rising or facing the nearest volcanoes.

During the 8th to 16th centuries – Classical Hindu and Buddhist architectural styles were found

Many constructions of temples in Indonesia, especially in Java, were influenced by religion. Bali’s Hinduism culture originated in Java centuries ago, but since then Bali has remained the only place in Indonesia where the Hindu traditions are still followed.

In the 18th and 19th centuries – Balinese architecture blossomed

While still maintaining the nobility of the guidelines that had been passed on by their ancestors, Balinese architects began to show a certain boldness in their design by giving it a modern touch. The influence of European styles are found in some old constructions built around the 1940s in North Bali such as Bungkulan and Singaraja.

During the 20th century – Dutch and Japanese building styles remained

The Rumah Panglima and the Istana Presiden Tampak Siring are two examples of this influence.

Different functions of Balinese Architecture

Religious Architecture

The pura (Balinese temple) is constructed as an open air compound enclosed by walls that are only accessible through artistically carved gates. The Balinese temple usually contains: The padmasana – a throne to worship the Balinese supreme god, Sang Hyang Widhi; the pelinggih meru – a tower that has tiered roofs that are similar to Nepali or Japanese pagodas; various pavilions; and a storehouse of the temple’s relics.

Domestic Architecture

Balinese houses and palaces are constructed as numerous structures within a walled enclosure. The majority of these pavilions are built in the Balinese balé style using a thatched roof structure. Each having a specific function, such as the front open pavilion to receive guests, the main and guest bedrooms, the family shrine (pelinggihan or pemrajan). Normally, common areas such as the living room and kitchen are segregated from the family shrine.

Landscape Architecture

Balinese gardens are designed in a style that incorporates tropical decorative plants in harmony with the surrounding environment in natural terrain. Water gardens and pavilions have built in ponds and fountains, typically filled with water lilies. Water temples often have a bathing area known as petirtaan that is comprised of a number of pools and fountains used as a bathing area for both leisure and ritual cleansing.