material bata yang tahan lama

Durable Brick Material: Learning from the Architect of Muaro Jambi Temple

Brick material is one of the most common building materials we meet today. Although many buildings today use more modern materials such as concrete and steel, the use of bricks as one of the building materials is not simply abandoned. This time, wants to put forward the topic of “The Durable Brick Material: Learning from teh Architect of Muaro Jambi Temple”.

Some time ago, due to an office assignment I had the opportunity to visit the Jambi Province in the Sumatera Island. There, considering one of my tasks is closely related to the development of the region especially related to the integrated development of strategic areas, so I as part of the team deliberately stopped by one of the strategic conservation areas in Jambi Province, the Muaro Jambi Temple complex.

It is no coincidence that the southern part of Sumatera used to have a strong historical attachment to the Sriwijaya Kingdom. Although there are some areas that claim to be the center of the embryo of the kingdom of Sriwijaya (Palembang, Jambi, and Kedah-Malaysia) [1], my curiosity towards the temple complex in Muaro Jambi does not disappear.

Muaro Jambi temple is a temple complex near the Batanghari River, Jambi, which according to information is a “university” complex of its time. The university is a university specializing in Buddhism, and is similar to Nalanda University in India at the same time. When circumstances in India were not conducive due to the invasion, the Nalanda university was transferred to Sriwijaya, as many of the university students were from Sriwijaya [2].

This is quite interesting, according to Ahok (Abdul Hafiz, red), one of the historical and cultural activists of Jambi who accompanied us biking around Muaro Jambi Temple complex, the university was built on the side of Batanghari River so as to facilitate the movement of (foreign) students to come and go to the education complex. Given that the main transportation means of long-distance transport is boat/ship, the student’s learning time also adjusts to the coming of wind season which can bring the boat/ship to sail.

Muaro Jambi Temple area, in addition to having appeal from the side of the story, for me personally also has the appeal of the physical aspect of the building.

Muaro Jambi temple is one of the ancient temple buildings that do not use stone material as the main building material of the temple, but it use mainly brick material.

Stone material is used in some elements and parts of the building, for example as a locking brick arrangement at the corner of the building, as a stone combined with wooden frame, as well as the main material of the statues and makara contained in parts of the temple.

Why is the brick material in Muaro Jambi Temple building so interesting?

This is due to the fact that as a temple that was built hundreds of years ago, the condition of the original bricks that make up the Muaro Jambi temple is still maintained in good condition.

In addition, looking at the temple building which is the result of lengthy process of preservation work, we will be able to see the craftmanship quality of the architects and artisans at that time. The composition of red brick shaped building of the temple is neatly arranged and straight. Whether at that moment there is already a waterpas or bow ruler I do not know for sure. However, looking at the quality of brick arrangement which is very precise and neat I believe if the Architect of Muaro Jambi temple already familiar with quite complex mathematical formulas, geometry, and carpentry.

Durable Brick Material

If we look in more detail, then we will be made even more amazed.

If we look carefully at the bricks used to construct the temple building, then we will be able to see the different composition of the brick material compared to the bricks made today.

Here are some photos of the original brick Muaro Jambi temple when compared with red bricks made in modern times:

durable brick material
Original brick of Muaro Jambi Temple
durable brick material
The old brick compared to the replacement brick (the upper one is the original brick)

If you look closely, even if you only see at a glance, we will be able to see significant differences in the two types of bricks contained in the photo above from the texture and color aspects.

From the texture aspect, it is clear that the old brick has a “sandy” texture, while the new brick is smoother. In addition, the red color on ancient bricks looks more mature when compared to bricks made with new/modern techniques.

However, is it true that the texture that appears on the outside of the ancient brick in Muaro Jambi temple is a clue about the possibility of its composition?

Let’s look at some other photos:

durable brick material
The remains which can’t be preserved due to its condition
durable brick material
The original old brick texture in Muaro Jambi

It seems that the texture contained in the ancient brick in Muaro Jambi temple complex holds a clue about the constituent materials. One that may be contained in it may be sand and ash powder, or coral fragments. The factor of brick maturity and brick density seems to also affect the durability of this ancient brick.

However, to really know the composition of Muaro Jambi red bricks that have strong resilience is of course we need to see the results of existing scientific research.

Unfortunately, I myself have not been able to find a complete related scientific article that specifically discusses the composition of ancient brick material contained in this Muaro Jambi Temple.

Munandar (2010) [3] in his article entitled “Damage and Weathering of Brick Material” conveys four types of damage and materialization of brick material (in the context of preservation of temple buildings composed of bricks), namely: physical damage, mechanical damage, chemical weathering, and biological weathering.

Factors causing the damage itself according to Munandar (2010) occur due to internal factors (quality of materials, technology / methods of manufacture, installation techniques and position on the building, and other internal properties), and external factors (climate, weather, disaster, etc.).

Munandar in his article explains that the good basic ingredients for making bricks are clay and sand with a certain ratio (based on the experience of brick craftsmen). If the clay content is too much, the brick will break easily or crack during drying. Meanwhile, if too much sand content, bricks will be easily broken.

A good brick is usually made from a good base material, has a good compressive strength, and a maintained level of porosity (better waterproof is better). Burning bricks with hardwood will produce a better brick than if burned with chaff. This is due to the temperature generated at the time of combustion and carbon substances that will also play a role in the combustion process. [4]

In terms of size, brick size in Muaro Jambi temple has a length of 24-35 cm, width 14-22 cm, and 4-8 cm thick. [5]

durable brick material
The drawing in the brick

If you have interesting information about durable brick material, please feel free to share and comment so as to enrich our knowledge of all brick materials, especially red bricks.

Thanks for reading! 🙂

durable brick material
Looking at the bricks


[1] MUARA JAMBI: Saksi Pusat Kerajaan Berpindah. (2013, July 22). Retrieved March 11, 2018, from

[2] Candi Muaro Jambi, Kampus Peninggalan Kerajaan Sriwijaya. (n.d.). Retrieved March 11, 2018, from

[3] Munandar, Aris (2010) Kerusakan dan pelapukan material bata. Jurnal Konservasi Benda Cagar Budaya Borobudur, IV (4). pp. 55-61. ISSN 19788584

[4] Ibid 3.

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[5] Swastikawati, Ari (2011) Standar pengujian kualitas bata pengganti. Jurnal Konservasi Benda Cagar Budaya Borobudur, V (5). pp. 4-8. ISSN 19788584

benefit of void in two story house

The Benefit of Void in Two Story House

You probably just heard or met the term ‘void‘ now. Perhaps when reading an architectural book or when talking to your architect, or the contractor of your home construction, or even your craftsman, you accidentally meet the term. So what exactly the term “void” means in a context of building? This time we will discuss about this term as well as discussing about the function of voids in multi-storey houses.

Void is basically a blank space or a large ‘hole’ on the floor that allows inter-floor space interconnected with both exposure and lighting. In addition, the void also allows two or more people who are on different floors to communicate directly both visually and auditorially.

In the architectural context, the use of void is often encountered in both large-scale buildings and small-scale buildings.

Typically, void is only applied to buildings that have more than one floor (multistorey buildings or buildings with mezzanine). While the building with only one floor usually does not have a void because there is no need for it.

So, what are the function of void in the two story houses?

Void has several main functions, among others:

  • Flows the fresh air between floors. The existence of voids allows hot air on the ground floor to flow upward (given the physics of the air i.e the higher the temperature the air will be lighter) and replaced with cooler air. Thus, an indoor microclimate will produce natural cross ventilation which is beneficial for the health of the inhabitants of the house.
  • Allows lighting of both natural light (rays/sunlight) and artificial light (light that comes from lamp) to penetrate several floors at once. Good lighting will certainly also affect the general health of the home environment, avoiding the room from high humidity and the growth of fungi and the presence of other germs.
  • Helps connect and enable two-way communication between occupants located on different floors.

The word “void” itself is one of the English words meaning “empty” or “unfilled”. Thus, voids in multi-story buildings or other terraced buildings are also spaces with similar characteristics.

benefit of void in two story house
Large void on a multi-storey building (Source:

If you are planning your multi-storey design with the help of an architect, I bet you will be offered to create a void in your home/building.

The most common ‘void’ space offered is the void space in the staircase area. The void space in the staircase area will usually be wider that allows the three functions mentioned above to be achieved optimally.

However, sometimes an architect will offer you a void space location that is perhaps a bit uncommon. For example, your architect may offer a small void in your bathroom, which is more functional to stream natural air and natural lighting, but does not connect and allows direct communication between floors due to its privacy concern.

In this case if you want to design a two story house interior, you need to know a little about the implications including the option to use void or not.

In essence, when designing a multi-storey building an Architect will bring up the option of using voids with consideration of nature airflows and natural lighting function so that the space he created will become a healthtier space.

For those of you who are interested in the discussions on designing the interior of the room in a house or high rise building, perhaps the following reading material can provide additional information and ideas for you in determining whether or not you have to make a void in your multi-storey home.

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jenis sambungan bambu

Avoid These Kind of Bamboo Joints

In the previous article, has discussed a bit about the types of bamboo connections in the article “Here are Some Kinds of Bamboo Connections”. This time, we will discuss about the types of bamboo connections that must be avoided and why the connection should be avoided.

If you look closely at homes or buildings that have structures made of bamboo, there are more or less similar connection characteristics. This can be found both in bamboo structures connected with rope aids, as well as bamboo connections associated with wooden / bamboo pegs, dowels, or other types of connectors (such as the modern metal/steel connectors).

Well, do you know that in making bamboo connections for both your building structure and the complementary elements of the structure and also for other things (eg in making furniture such as benches and bamboo tables), there are some bamboo connection techniques that’s need to be avoided?

This is because the way of making bamboo connections will be shown below, technically incompatible with the nature of the material used (bamboo material in this case).

Well, here are some types of bamboo connections that must be avoided, according to Oscar Hidalgo Lopez in his book “Manual de construcción con bambu”.

Lateral connection with nails

According to Lopez, one way to make bamboo connections that are abstinent is to make a lateral connection (side) with two different types of bamboo diameter / stem size. In this case, the connecting technique we need to avoid is to connect a smaller beam rod than the column rod by nailing with longer / bigger spikes of 6 cm (2.5 inches).

Sebaiknya, anda menggunakan tali untuk menyambung dua batang bambu (menyambung balok pada kolom) dengan cara mengikatnya secara mendatar terhadap kolom dengan beberapa kali putaran untuk memperkuat sambungan.

avoid these kind of bamboo joints
Bamboo connection with nails (Source: Oscar Hidalgo Lopez, 1981)

Do not use bamboo that is not solid

In making a bamboo connection must be considered also the condition of the bamboo rod to be connected. Make sure the bamboo is not included in the bamboo with the following conditions as described by Lopez:

  • bamboo that is still young / green that is less than 3 years old
  • bamboo that is attacked by insects (usually indicated by small holes in bamboo and bamboo porous)
  • the flowering bamboo
  • vertically cracked bamboo
  • bamboo which is inadvertently partially cut off horizontally / vertically at the time of bamboo processing
avoid these kind of bamboo joints
Choose bamboo which has good condition (Source: Oscar Hidalgo Lopez, 1981)

Do not use elastic strap

You must pay attention to the type of strap you use especially for bamboo connections made using a rope. This is because the rope material will greatly determine the strength of the resulting bamboo bond.

Do not use straps that have elastic or flexible properties such as rubber bands and the like. Use only a rope that is not flexible / tend to be stiff and strong. This avoids bonding to loosening and reduces the overall strength of the structure.

avoid these kind of bamboo joints
Do not use elastic strap (Source: Oscar Hidalgo Lopez, 1981)

Do not use damaged bamboo

When you want to make a column of bamboo, make sure the end of the bamboo is not in a state of damage. This is to keep the bamboo strength still good in sustaining the load when it has been installed as a structural element.

If you install a bamboo that has been damaged as a structural element, in this case especially as a bamboo pole / column, then it is possible that your bamboo structure can not be long-lasting, easily porous, and detrimental to the building as a whole.

avoid these kind of bamboo joints
Don’t use damaged bamboo (Source: Oscar Hidalgo Lopez, 1981)

Cover the ends of bamboo connections with the reinforcement

When you make a bamboo connection with pieces of bamboo that have been removed, do not forget to coat the bamboo pieces with a coating on the inside of the bamboo stem cavity. This is to ensure that the strength of bamboo connections is supported by thicker bamboo stems.

If you forget this, it is not impossible that your bamboo connection will be broken or cracked at the end of the connection given the end of the bamboo is not strong enough in holding the burden is distributed.

avoid these kind of bamboo joints
Cover the bamboo ends (Source: Oscar Hidalgo Lopez, 1981)

Thus, some things must be avoided in making a bamboo connection, especially for bamboo connections that are utilized as structural elements. Knowing how to make an incorrect bamboo connection can prevent you from making unnecessary mistakes when making bamboo connections. Obviously, with good and correct connections, the quality of buildings or furniture made from bamboo can be even better.

Do you know anything else that must be avoided in making bamboo connections? Feel free to comment and share your knowledge with other readers below! 🙂



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[1] Hidalgo López, O. (1981). Manual de construcción con bambú.Estudios Tecnicos Colombiano LTDA, Bogota.

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