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Balinese Architecture

Balinese architecture consists of an open courtyard, with many small structures. This is true of temples, palaces, or common homes.

In this picture, we see shrines and pagodas in the courtyard of Pura Tjampuan, a temple in Ubud.
The structures are made of volcanic rock and red brick, and roofed with sugar palm fiber.

A Balinese Temple

Bale at Pura Tjampuan

One of the most common features of Balinese Architecture is the Bale.
It's an open pavilion, consisting of a thatched roof, and no walls.

The Bale is an all-function structure. In the day it's used for gathering and meals. In the evening, it's used for sleeping.

The Bale represents the Hindu-Balinese universe. The roof is the 'gods' section, the body is the 'human' section, and the base is the 'demons' section.

Where there's a courtyard, of course, there must be a gate. Or four.

An average temple probably has 5 to 10 gates, a home will have a few, then there are palaces, hotels, and public buildings.
I wouldn't be surprised to find that there are a million gates on the island of Bali.

There are normal gates like the one to the right, there are door-less gates, and there are split gates; where there is no top piece.
There are brick gates, coral gates, and gates carved from stone.
There are simple gates, and there are elaborately carved gates.

This gate is not finished yet. The top pieces will be carved into more detail at a later time.
This is common, usually due to a lack of funds.

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A Gate

Puri Saren Agung, Ubud

The Ubud Palace is still occupied by the prince, who rents out some of the buildings to tourists. The units are beautiful, but low-tech (no a/c, no hot water). However, when was the last time you stayed in a palace?

There is greenery everywhere, and the compound is dotted with bird cages, ponds, and antiques. Hundred year-old carvings grace the walls of the buildings.

Many people are now taking the basic concepts of Balinese architecture - open space, high ceilings, tiled floors, natural materials - which work so well in this climate, and combining them with western materials and methods.

The result has been many homes and hotels in southern Bali that have set a new standard for comfort and style.

It's an exciting trend in architecture that I hope will spread to other regions.

Contemporary Home, Sanur