Architecture on Flores and Lembata

Flores and Lembata traditional architecture is a separate story by itself. Traversing district borders you immediately notice a difference in the shape of homes and roofs, meaning you have entered a region with yet another culture. Typically all communities have a Rumah Adat, a vernacular house, which is the center of community life, where important meetings are held and ceremonies take place. The Rumah Adat and all houses were constructed with local materials of wood, bamboo, stones and roofs were covered with Ijuk – fibers from the Enau tree – or alternatively with Alang Alang. In this picture of an Enau tree you can see the black Ijuk fibers at the top of the trunk. Alang Alang was harvested from the hills, dried and tied together on bamboo strips. These dry materials burn easily and at times Rumah Adats were destroyed by fires. Nowadays many traditional houses are covered with zinc and many new houses are now constructed with bricks, concrete and plaster.

Ijuk  Alang-alang1

Pictures in below slideshow were kindly shared by Irene Dubrowa, Eco Flores advisor on traditional architecture. Irene researched the traditional architecture of Flores. Underneath this slideshow Irene explains a bit more about the differences in the styles of various districts.

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Photos 02A East-Flores Kawaliwu – a “traditional” house with two vertical elements on top of the roof (taken from above and the back side)
Photos 02B and 02C East-Flores clan-houses around Leworahang. One very distinct feature of the clan houses is the large piece of wood that forms the ridge and is shaped like a crocodile, as well as the three vertical bamboo poles on the roof ridge. Sketch 2B shows the main features of the East Flores dwelling house Sketch 2A shows the outline of the clan house.

Photo 03 – it shows a “typical traditional” house of the Nagekeo. You can see that the top of the roof narrows down towards a very short roof ridge, which is then covered with many layers of alang-alang grass – this accounts for the impression that the top of the roof is slanting outwards, just like an upside-down trapezoid (Sketch 3). Also, the houses are built on stilts (three along the front side of the house). The two vertical elements on top of the roof show that the house is of high status (has a special function within the village/clan) – “normal” houses don’t feature these two vertical poles on top of the roof.

Photos 04A and 04B – The houses of the Lio. The houses have a high roof and the top of the roof gently sloping outwards. Most of the houses either feature a higher/more extreme roof with a narrower ridge (see sketch 4A, photo 04A) or a roof that is not all that high (sketch 4B, photo 04C) – this depends on the status of the house (as far as I could find out). The lines of the roof are actually elegant curves – this is possible through a special roof construction that allows the use of thin rafters, that are actually bent. In sketch 4B I also added posts – the buildings of the Lio are constructed on posts

Photos 5A, 5B and 5C Ngada houses: there are a lot of different roof shapes and the houses have a single-pitch bamboo roof at the veranda. 5A in Boradho, 5B in Luba and 5C a more contemporary house in Watujajii

Pictures 6A and 6B both show Manggaraian houses – 6A is the more ancient kind of round house that can be found in Wae Rebo and Todo only. 6B is the more modern kind of round house that can be found in many villages today (usually as chief’s house / clan house), e.g. in Ruteng Pu’u and villages around Cancar. The 6A-type is a building on posts. No examples exist anymore where this building type is constructed with walls (if so, it looks like 6A. The posts lean outwards (Sketch 6A) the walls slanting outwards (Sketch 6B)

Photos 07A and 07B – Ende – Wolotopo, a village close to the town of Ende, there are two multi-family houses, which are apparently unique to the area. Due to the size of the houses and the location within the village it was impossible to take photos from the front. The house with the dark roof was pulled down in 2011/2012 and is currently reconstructed, so I don’t know what it will look like. The house with the lighter roof – it was a very special type of construction that is not really typical for Flores

Source: research by Irene Doubrawa. Irene Doubrawa, MSc -Institute for History of Art, Building Archaeology and Restoration, Vienna University of Technology –

In 2013 I initiated Flores Homestay Network Community Based Tourism development program run by Eco Flores. The artwork and logos we based on the the traditional Flores houses – designed by   Coordinator of Flores Homestay Network is Marta Muslin –

LOGO HOMESTAY NETWORK  Concept Sketches by Karin Minnigh - Irene refers to the numbers in this picture

These pictures I took on Lembata in 2015. The roof decoration symbolises the speer, the knife and the crocodile.

In 2016 I saw this beautiful bamboo roof in Desa Golo Sengang near Sano Nggoang