Updated on April 25, 2024

Balinese architecture is one of the most popular Asian tropical architectural styles, with a distinct flair for being in harmony with nature. The style originates from the famous Indonesian island, Bali, frequently visited by many foreign tourists who are attracted to the province’s culture, laid back way of life, and the amazing natural resources that abound.

Bali has been touted as the “island of the gods” because of its strong religious practice and with hundreds if not thousands of temples that occupy the island. With miles and miles of beautiful beaches in Bali, picturesque mountains, and the quiet countryside, the island has become one of the world’s top destinations and a major influence in the world of architecture and design.

An Overview of Balinese Architecture

Photo: Indonesia Travel

Balinese architecture is a vernacular style of architecture wherein designers use local materials to help construct buildings, structures, and houses, as well as reflecting local tradition. It is a centuries-old style of design that’s heavily influenced by Bali’s Hindu traditions, as well as ancient Javanese elements.

Materials commonly used in Balinese homes and buildings include thatch roofing, coconut wood, bamboo poles, teak wood, stone, and bricks.

Balinese architecture has a distinct characteristic of traditional aesthetic principles, using the island’s ancient culture and artistry in every design element of a structure.

Balinese Architecture and Its Uses Today

The entrance to the Living Area of Villa Zelie

Many of Bali’s domestic homes and luxury villas use the distinct philosophies of Balinese architecture. Using nature at its best to provide a man-made structure with a relaxed and tropical atmosphere, Bali homes and private resorts provide the perfect dwellings that are in tune with the environment.

With the island becoming more and more popular as a top tourist destination in Asia, more establishments are offering private luxury villas to compliment an exciting Balinese vacation. Private luxury villas in Bali using the distinct Balinese style combined with modern elements have become a staple of architectural designs found on the island. Some of the popular luxury villas that uses the Balinese architecture or a touch of it are Villa Ambra, Villa Des Indes 1, and Villa Zelie.

Despite the visible marriage of tradition and modernity in architecture in Bali homes and private villas, designers and builders still place the distinct philosophies of Balinese architecture as the top priority.

Related article: Types of Luxury Villas You Will Find in Bali

The 7 Philosophies of Balinese Architecture

Aerial view of Villa Ambra

The philosophies of this architectural design revolve around Hinduism, spatial organization, and communal-based social relationships. A Balinese-designed home or villa is built around these 7 philosophies:

1. Tri Hata Karana – Creating harmony and balance between the 3 elements of life – the atma or human, angga or nature, and khaya or gods.

2. Tri Mandala – rules of space division and zoning

3. Sanga Mandala – also a set of rules of space division and zoning based on directions

4. Tri Angga – concept or hierarchy among different realms

5. Tri Loka – similar to Tri Annga but with different realms

6. Asta Kosala Kosali – 8 guidelines of architectural designs regarding symbols, shrines, stages, and measurement units

7. Arga Segara – sacred axis between mountain and sea

Using these philosophies, Balinese architecture focuses on 4 Strength Aspects, which are:

A Good Ventilation System – with Balinese homes and luxury villas, big windows are used to give full attention to air circulation. A large free space between the roof and wall is also created.

A Strong Foundation – based on the Tri Loka philosophy, the human body is similar to a house – with a strong foundation, such as the feet for humans, a house will have tremendous strength.

A Massive Yard – based on the concept of being in harmony with nature, a typical Balinese house or villa must have a yard for which to commune with the natural surroundings.

A Guarding Wall – a high wall protects the home from public view, providing privacy and protection from other people, as well as to ward off black magic and evil spirits from entering the property.

A Typical Balinese Home

Photo: Bali Day Trips

Unlike most Western countries where there is one, single large house, a Balinese home is a compound of separate pavilions that serve different functions. One pavilion houses the kitchen, while another houses the master bedroom, and another being the family shrine, and so on. All these structures are connected through a series of gates.

A house also typically has a front open pavilion to welcome guests to the home. A Balinese home must also have a landscaped garden with tropical decorative plants that merge the home with nature. However, the grounds are never heavily altered, and designers always use the garden’s natural features to create their designs around them.

A typical feature of a Balinese garden is a floating pavilion surrounded by ponds packed with waterlilies, usually used for meditation or relaxation purposes.

Balinese architecture provides a calm and relaxing atmosphere that forces you to reflect and be at one with the earth. With design elements of plants, flowers, natural construction materials, and large open spaces, staying in a Balinese home or luxury villa is the perfect way to unwind, contemplate, and truly enjoy mother nature.

Related article: Inspiring Home Design Ideas from Asia’s Most Luxurious Holiday Villas