Stilts (architecture)

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A Dayak Rumah Baluk with 5-meter-tall stilts, West Kalimantan pavilion TMII.

Stilts are poles, posts or pillars used to allow a structure or building to stand at a distance above the ground. In flood plains, and on beaches or unstable ground, buildings are often constructed on stilts to protect them from damage by water, waves or shifting soil or sand.

Stilt house[edit]

Stilts are common architectural element in tropical architecture, especially in Southeast Asia and South America. The length of stilts may vary widely; stilts of traditional houses can be measured half meter to 5 or 6 meters. In Indonesia, the construction of the house symbolizes the division of the macrocosm into three regions: the upper world; the seat of deities and ancestors, the middle world; the realm of human, and lower world; the realm of demon and malevolent spirit. The typical way of buildings in Southeast Asia is to build on stilts, an architectural form usually combined with a saddle roof.[1]

Stilts can be found in Indonesian vernacular architecture such as Dayak long houses,[1] Torajan Tongkonan, Minangkabau Rumah Gadang, and Malay houses. The construction is known locally as Rumah Panggung (lit: "stage house") houses built on stilts. This was to avoid wild animals and floods, to deter thieves, and for added ventilation. In Sumatra, traditionally stilted houses are designed in order to avoid dangerous wild animals, such as snakes and tigers. While in areas located close to big rivers of Sumatra and Borneo, the stilts help to elevated house above flood surface.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Traditional Houses". Art Asia. Retrieved 17 May 2012.