British Influence on Malaysian Vernacular Architecture and Modern Mosques

British Influence on Malaysian Vernacular Architecture and Modern Mosques

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Positioned across two separate, immediate islands, Malaysia has always been primed for a strong foreign influence through rich international trade. The influences of Hindu India, Christian Europe, and the Islamic Middle East, converged to create a diverse populous. However, Malaysia's exposure also granted vulnerability and eventual colonialism under multiple countries, most notably Great Britain. Through Britain's tenure, Western and Eastern ideology and design fused together to bring fourth major changes that would forever leave a distinctive mark on Malaysian history, design, and culture. This paper presents a comparative analysis of Britain's influence on mosques built during different periods in the Malaysian history and analyzes the changes in the mosque architecture between vernacular, colonial, and modern periods.
Traditional Middle Eastern Mosques, known as hypostyle and originally widespread throughout Malaysia, generally consisted of a minaret1 calling tower, a court yard, domes, flat roofs, and a mihrab2, all constructed from either sand or stone. The heavy weight of the sand and stone was often supported by long rows of slender, embellished columns. As hypostyle Mosques began to dilapidate from the harsh tropical weather in Malaysia, with flat roofs flooding and sand constructed minarets crumbling, Indonesian architecture began to take over. With heavy rainfall and warm sunshine occurring all year round, the design of Indonesian-Malaysian, vernacular architecture mosques reflected most of the characteristics of the traditional and tropical Malay houses. Four major factors including climatic conditions, availability of building materials, craftsmanship and ethnic background influenced design. In response to the tro...

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Community center
Colonial Rule

How when why
Technology impact
Western Culture infusion
Illustrating Colonial impact with evidence in modern malaysia

Sultan Abu Bakar State Mosque

Western Design influences in minaret, etc.

Malaysia's transformation

Britain's influence
Major design changes in mosque

When describing and picturing Islam, most rely on the image of white cloaked people trotting hills of sand. However, most Muslims reside by the exotic rain forests and beaches in the islands of South East Asia, a violative and contrasting setting from the Middle East. Malaysia is the most populated country in South East Asia.
Through its history and influence, Colonial mosques should be embraced as historical landmarks and reserve their purpose in Malaysian society.

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