Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Redefining the Vernacular in the Hybrid Architecture of Malaysia

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posted on 2021-11-10, 18:54 authored by Sim, Stefanie

The objective of the thesis is to view the presence of vernacular architecture as a strong sub current of modern praxis in Malaysia. Vernacular architecture has played a pivotal role in shaping architecture and in defining perceptions of modernity. It is the vernacular interaction and negotiation with regional and global influences that has generated the complex and hybrid nature of Malaysian architecture. The notion of the ‘vernacular’ has a negative and pejorative connotation and is commonly described as simplistic, unrefined and undeveloped. Contrary to that, the thesis reveals the complex cultural, social, intellectual and functional identities of Malaysian vernacular structures. The term ‘vernacular’ is constantly evolving and is not limited to the past but lives on in contemporary architecture. The thesis suggests that the presence of vernacular concepts do not dissipate as a result of hybrid interactions between different cultures but rather evolve during this creative process. Significant events that transpire throughout the history of the country play a crucial role in shaping and altering vernacular architecture. Colonisation and migration contribute to the complex architectural identity of Malaysia as diverse cultural influences are introduced and imposed onto native traditions. Change is inevitable in a living society. However, change can be seen as either disruptive or as part of a continuum. Through critical comparisons and case studies, the thesis argues that the vernacular is continually evolving as a product of cultural regeneration. It is from the parallels drawn between the vernacular and architecture introduced by foreigners that allow for the comprehension of these new building types as well as the acceptance of alternate lifestyle.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Name

Master of Architecture

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


McCarthy, Christine