The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume XL-5/W7
11 Aug 2015
 | 11 Aug 2015

"Conical Hut": A Basic Form of House Types in Timor Island

Y.R. Chen, Y.L. Lim, M.H. Wang, and C.Y. Chen

Keywords: Timor Island, Timor Leste, house type, basic form, typological study, Pair-House, Uma Lulik, Uma Tidor

Abstract. Timor Island situates in the southeast end of Southeast Asia. The island accommodates many ethnic groups, which produce many diverse house types. As visiting East Timor in 2012 and Timor Island in 2014, we found the “Pair- House Type” widely spread over Timor Island. Uma Lulik (holy house), accommodating the ancestry soul, fireplace and elder’s bed, and Uma Tidor (house for sleep), containing living, sleeping and working space, compose the pair-house. The research team visited 14 ethnic groups and their houses, some of which were measured and drawn into 3D models as back to Taiwan. Uma Tidors of each ethnic group are quite similar with rectangular volume and hip roof, however, one of the fourteen ethnic groups can build cylinder houses for Uma Tidor. Uma Luliks of different ethnic groups are diversified and special. One group of the Uma Luliks shows a rectangular or square volume sheltered by a hip roof. The other group of Uma Luliks presents a non-specific volume under a conical roof, that we called the “conical hut”. Seven ethnic groups, Atoni, Weimua, Makassae, Mambai, Bunaq, Kemak and Bekais, have built “conical huts” for the use of Uma Lulik. People of the seven ethnic groups can construct a reasonable structural system to support the conical roof, and take good advantage of the space under the conical roof to meet their sacred needs and everyday life. “Conical Hut” may be regarded as the basic form of the house types adopted by the seven ethnic groups. It contains the basic spatial limits and the formal properties that the construction systems have to follow. Based on the concise rules of the basic form, people of each ethnic group use their talents, skills and building materials to generate variations of “conical hut”, which are different in house scale, spatial layout, construction system and form. The “conical huts” contain the consistency that all the huts come from the basic form, meanwhile, they also present the diversification that each conical hut has differed. “Consistent but diversified”, is one of the most interesting issues in typological study that we can observe in Timorese houses.