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Kampong Maligan is a small village surrounded by a Forestry Reserve, in
the Sipitang region of southeast Sabah, Malaysia. Although Malaysia is one of
S.E. Asia’s most developed countries, the resource-rich eastern states of Sabah
and Sarawak still suffer from a lack of education and opportunity. Development in
these states has been largely driven by NGOs and community organisations. The
Avantha Foundation Malaysia has been supporting the communities in the
Western District of Sabah to establish community enterprise and environmental
The design team involved all members of the community in the design and
construction process. During the design phase, the Tagal committee taught the
design team all about the Tagal system, the spatial requirements of the project,
and design features traditionally implemented in their tribal (Murut) culture. The
design team used locally sourced materials and design sustainably, but was also
conscious of not encouraging inappropriate technology transfer. The close
collaboration with the Tagal committee at this early stage resulted in the best of
both innovative construction techniques and cultural values. We hope that this
collaboration will mean that the construction techniques are more likely to be used
in the community’s future projects.
Structural bamboo, as well as woven bamboo was used in construction.
Although this natural resource is readily available, it is rarely used, as there is no
known reliable treatment method. During the build process, villagers were taught
how to treat the bamboo with Borax solution, as this was deemed the most
appropriate method for their location.
Sabah has a humid, tropical climate with no prevailing wind and often little
breeze. Cross ventilation and stack ventilation are of paramount importance. The
mono-pitched roof combats this lack of natural air movement to create a thermally
comfortable space within the building by providing an outlet for heated air to
escape. Open weave bamboo panels on the north and south elevations allow
cross ventilation of air that is naturally cooled by an adjacent bamboo grove. The
biocrete wall has an evaporative cooling effect, increasing the effectiveness of
both ventilation strategies.