Omo Hada is a rare surviving eighteenth-century traditional Indonesian village. Its houses were erected on stilts and are notable for their distinctive steeply pitched roofs and skylights, many of which face a central plaza. The main structure, which was built in 1715 as a royal residence and meeting house, still retains its function as a space for community gatherings. The buildings are highly resistant to earthquakes due to the use of oblique and vertical posts atop stone foundations that use no nails in their construction. Lack of adequate maintenance, however, has led to deterioration.
How We Helped
Omo Hada was included in the 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006 Watch lists. Following the tsunami of 2004, WMF was able to provide funding with assistance from American Express for emergency stabilization of the village. WMF supported North Sumatera Heritage’s efforts to conduct a technical condition survey, which led to the discovery that the houses had changed little over time and had never been the focus on large-scale conservation or reconstruction.
Since some of the traditional building techniques had been lost, steps were taken to ensure the creation of education and training programs for the community. These efforts included several workshops to teach local carpenters the skills needed to repair and preserve the wooden structures with traditional methods and materials. Particular attention was given to the outer walls of the dwellings which had suffered from sun and rain damage. Roof thatching was also restored or replaced where necessary.
Why It Matters
The buildings at Omo Hada offer a glimpse into traditional building techniques in this region of Indonesia. These lasting construction techniques have allowed the buildings to survive the assault of the elements and seismic activity. In fact, the buildings are so inherently stable that when an earthquake of a 7.9 magnitude hit in 2007, carpenters working on restorations continued work on the roof barely noticing the tremors.
Restoration of the structures was linked with tourism and economic development to market the village as a cultural destination.