In the 1960’s all local houses consisted of very basic constructions, foreigners rented rooms in family inns (losmen). Shortly after trendy Sanur was the first area that attracted more sophisticated buildings, usually under supervision of western designers and architects.
Around 1980 the situation started to be influenced strongly by western business people that came to Bali frequently enough to build their own house. These houses and villas somehow took some traditional Balinese essentials to blend with imported Western standards. Although there was suddenly the comfort of a western bathroom, the bottom line was usually a lack of professional competence in an overall architectural context.
Starting around 1990 the present situation started to emerge: Elements of Balinese architecture like thatched materials for the roof or carved doors are used in a modern context and in combination with the Western tradition of comfortable furniture and furnishings.
That is not a general evolution of the “Bali style” it is rather used as reinterpretation in a decorative and usually aesthetic way. Many Westerners have build their Balinese dream home based on a mixture of Western comfort and Asian styles.
The indoor-outdoor living style is dominant to express the best possibilities the tropical climate has to offer. Natural materials used are wood, alang-alang, bamboo, stone, glass and ceramics.
The traditional Balinese way to construct buildings followed very strict rules of shapes and sizes, also positioning and orientation was absolutely predetermined. Constructing a building is guided by religious motives not by practical or designer aesthetics. Therefore it is originally not an art form but religious ritual.
The latest development is however an extracting of Balinese designs to merge with new international styles in an artistic way, giving birth to a new Bali style.
Now designers are getting creative in an unpreceded way to redefine this so typical local art of tropical living in a new, internationally valid way that possibly will set the trend for years to come.
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