Sunday, June 19, 2011

Heritage Building of Rumah Hj Su

The Haji Su’s Traditional House


Building conservation is defined as maintaining a historic building that is in its original form. Normally, the term refers to the historic building at all buildings constructed in the past that historical and architectural significance. In fact, the restoration works of historic buildings should take into account several key aspects of research in terms of scope of work ethics and compliance.
In addition to the matters of concern is the effort to retain as much as possible the original building. If there is any damage and have involved the use of new material, it should be the same or similar to the old. This approach is very important in order to protect the authenticity of the building. An historic building restored for several reasons. First, is to show the utmost sensitivity to the accepted history of the past. Second, the historic building plays an important role in maintaining the historical evidence of a civilization or nation. In addition, historic buildings restored for the purpose of improving the tourism industry.

By recognising the importance of conservation of historic buildings, we are a total of 4 students have been carrying out a preliminary study and use its best efforts to document the buildings that has been selected, that is HjSu’s House. HjSu’s House is located in Kampung Losong HjSu, 21200 Kuala TerengganuTerengganu. It is located at latitude 5 ° 19'07, 17 "North and longitude 103 ° 07'20, 99" East. The historic buildings can be classified into traditional architecture which is the traditional timber Malay houses.
Rumah Limas Belanda
Rumah Berpeleh Tiga Kembar
This preliminary study was conducted on 09 October 2010 to October 11, 2010. It has involved a number of relevant parties, particularly the Department of Conservation from Terengganu State Museum and the people around the Kampung Losong HjSu. This study involves the collection of information through interviews, site visits, and site analysis such as searching for the defects through visual observation. In addition, we also work on the documentation processes, such as taking photos and video.

The first view of the building really serves the viewers a dazzling feeling. Its externalfaçade may have been stealing the first attention of the observers. The design and the size of the house are so outstanding compared to some other kampung houses in the village. In point of fact this building was divided into two which is Rumah LimasBelanda and Rumah Berpeleh Tiga Kembar”. These two houses were named in conjunction with the shape of the roof.

The design of this house was inspired by Haji Su when he collects the idea of the design when he was traveling around Asia for trading purpose. The profession ofHaji Su as a businessman gives him chances to travel overseas and see the unique architecture of other countries. According to the history told by the descendants ofHaji Su, the house was design and built without plan. Haji Su convey his desires of the house to his workers by just drawing some sketches on the ground. Not achieved the thought that the ancient Malay who lives without any modern technology are able to build an almost a perfect home which really attractive and the most importantly can stand firm for more than hundred years.

The house was build based on a prefabricated and peg (pasak) technique. They do not use any nails in the construction of this house. However during our visit to the house, we can vividly see the use of nails on some part of the house. There might be reasons on the changes of the building techniques and the use of nails might because of renovation done by Haji Su’s children and grandchildren.

This house is hundred percent made by Cengal including its pillars. Nevertheless, there is a minor part seems to be built by concrete. We believe that the brick part was built later on the building.

1) Rumah Bujang Berpeleh Kembar Tiga

This house believes to be older than the Rumah Limas Belanda because of the condition which looks really old and abandoned. During our visit to the house, the guide man mentioned that before the eldest son of Haji Su died, he only occupy theRumah Limas Belanda and left the Rumah Bujang Berpelah Kembar Tiga unoccupied.

The Roof

By looking at the roof of the house, it is
The Wall
Every inches of the wall of this house is decorated which making the house interesting to be look at. The most fascinate elements of the house is the carving of the timber on the windows. The carving is so detail and fine that we can assume that the pay must be expensive.
The Doors and Windows
The design of this house is so awesome and unique. There are 2 doors for entrances. The design of the house is so symmetrical. Natural lighting and ventilation is been adapted to this house. The windows were all perforated in order to let wind and sunlight pass through.
There are five rooms in the house and the rooms are centralized. Uniquely, the rooms are installed with more than one door. The rooms are like the arcade puzzle. They can access one room from another room. This design of house is good when there is an event of fire. Even this is just a small room but the designer does consider dead ends and safety of the occupants against fire. This proves the intelligent of the Malay ancestors those days.
Rumah Limas Belanda
According to the museum, the house which takes a year to complete was built in year 1940. However in 1941 the construction been delayed because of Japanese attack and in early 1942 the house completed and it is safe to be occupied.
The double storey Rumah Limas Belanda which is placed in front of the house compound is having alimas type of roof. Builders of Malay houses began to constructlimas roofs for they considered them easier to build than the roofs for the long-roofed houses(Abdul Halim Nasir 1997).
Rumah Limas tradition uses five ridges (perabung), consists of one horizontal line ridges and connected with the other four ridges which roof down through the stream. The word ‘Limas’ come from the word lima (five) which identify the five ridges and emas (gold) refers as the symbol of grandeur and majesty (Abdul Halim Nasir1997).
There is a small sphere opening on the top of the inverted V shaped roof at the front left and right elevation of the house. The opening was meant to give ventilation to the building so that the occupant may feel cool and comfortable dwell in the house. 
Senggora tiles are used for the construction of the roof. According to a trusted source, the typical shape of Senggora tiles used for this “Rumah Limas Belanda” was designed and produced special for Haji Su’s house. That is why it is unique typical roof can hardly found.
On the right and left of the front roof also been packed with Cengal while the highest structure of the building is decorated with buttresslike projection at the roof ridge. It shows the identity of Terengganu kampong house.

The Walls

This house can be divided into three parts which are the small size verandah, one living room and a hall. There are 2 rooms 1 toilet and no kitchen in the house. However, there is a sink at the back of the house. The horizontal living room is divided into two part believed meant to separate the man and women and the huge hall are designed with a small stage meant for the assembly for ceremony or wedding reception for the family.

At the ground floor of the house multifunctional rooms believed to be an office were built. Whether the ground floor was built on the same time with the timber part or it’s been added after the construction of the timber house are still unanswered.
The walls of Haji Su’s house are decorative as well as functional. Often they have attractive engravings. The walls are made of Cengal which is one of the most expensive timbers. According to the museum officer, carvings on the wall similar to the castle and old city carved in Jaipur India. The ideas were taken by Haji Su when he was traveling trading his merchandize.

The special component of this house is the wall decorated with carved ‘bendul’ around it. The bendul act to strengthen every single connection in the wall board. This house also must be designed by an extraordinarily genius person. This house is built without any column. The load been transferred to the wall itself. The unique concept used really impressed everyone not only the local architects and engineers but also researchers from foreign country such as Germany and Australia.

The Doors and Windows

According to the museum officer, there are totally 70 windows and 10 big doors. However the information is still under review. This house has an amazing natural ventilation and lighting system. The windows are too many and the windows are punctuated with just approximately a cubit distance.


Rumah Allahyarham Haji Su Mohd Salleh is located in Kampung Losong Haji Su, Kuala Terengganu. Built in 1940’s, this house is placed on 0.8 hectares (3 joining lots) and seen as the most outstanding and beautiful malay house at the village. This house has become an attraction to visitors from inside and outside of the country for example architect from Philipines, South Korea, East Country and many more. According to villagers at Kampung Losong Haji Su, the house is occupied by all of the family members but unfortunately it is left abandoned after the youngest son Haji Muhammad bin Haji Su died in 2008.

Haji Su Mohd Salleh is a rich, well- known man in Kampung Losong Kuala Terengganu. He is humble, kind and always helping neighbors and villagers whenever they seek help. Haji Su is a successful businessman and trader and traded daily foods such as rice, flour, sugar and cooking oil. He owned a huge property and has several ships and cars. As we went to the site, one of his cars still being there and getting worst in rust. Haji Su has big family as he has more than 1 wife. So he built the big house for all his family and to live together. After Haji Su died, his sons inherit the property and continued their father’s business. Some old photos of Haji Su’s son were found at the site proved that his son inherit the property and the run his father’s business as usual. 

The architecture idea of the house was believed taken from many countries. According to Puan Nor Ainah binti Mahmud, deputy director of conservation department of Terengganu Museum, the house is not typical and the architecture of the house was inspired from many countries while Haji Su went to do business to other countries.

Potential Significant Values

There are some reasons why this building is so special, need to converse and gazette it as a heritage because of this house has some potential significant values, such as:
1) Rarity value - Sometimes a building is one of a very few that remain today, and is thus significant for what it represents. For Rumah Haji Su, rarity value can see at this house when the entire house is made from “cengal” timber, has 70 windows and 10 doors which is too difficult to find any traditional houses with so many windows and doors now day.
2) Age value - Rumah Haji Su also categories as age value because it age almost nearest 70 years. Built in 1940 and complete in 1942 make it very sensitive and need more attention.
3) Architecture value - This house is using load bearing wall where all the loads of the house were transferred to the wall not to the column. As we entered the house, we noticed that there is no single column being installed at the house. Even the large open area did not have a column. The main structure material for creating load bearing wall is timber and width of a lot of timber layer same like concrete wall to support the heavy load on it. That is amazing architecture design at past. Application of architectural elements from the outside can also be seen in this house because Su Haji owner of a merchant who often commute and trade in Asian countries get inspiration is to be applied in the architecture of this house. For example, wood carved at the wall of the upper house similar to the castle and old city carved in Jaipur, India. The walls are decorated with the “kesek” board threshold shaded surroundings. Shaded sill separating the top and bottom of the home and act to strengthen the joints of the wall board. Right and left front of the roof was packed with the “cengal” timber (peleh) while the peak of each roof is placed a carved wooden decorations.
4) Artistic value – This house produced by the Malay craftsmen so great that the pillars in the house is not visible because the intelligence of them to hide that element. This house also used the wood carving at the top of window and at the top of wall partition inside the Rumah Bujang Berpeleh Kembar Tiga. It shows Malay craftsmen at the past are very detail in producing the artistic value in their design.
5) Technical Value – The construction technology is based on the concept of prefabricated wedges or “Teknik pasak” in Malay, which he did not have nails and parts can be dismantled one by one.
6) Association value – This traditional house connected to a well-known person. This buildings are significant by association if their owners, Haji Su. Haji Su is a risk man with doing trading activities and also as businessman and that why he is owner of biggest and beautiful house at that place and at that time. Another reason is tools or materials used to built house and a luxurious interior shows the status of the house owner.
7) Cultural value – This house also supported with cultural value which we can see this house was the place to meet between the family and relatives because there is a large hall in the middle of the house. Practice of visiting each other among families or relatives is emphasized in the Malay culture.
8) Historical value – Rumah Haji Su that is relatively old should be looked at for historic significance before it is modified, destroyed or changed in any way. Rumah haji Su is never doing any large modification or alteration and it look like 70 years ago as when it built. This house is a symbol of original Malay traditional house that we maybe loss it if we not to conserve and preserve it from now. This also bring a lot historical memories to Haji Su family’s, villagers and people that come to this house for seek help because Haji Su is a rich man. He is humble, kind and always helping neighbors and villagers whenever they seek help. As proof that statement is Haji Su already built musolla namely “Surau Haji Su” nears his house for used by villager around this house to pray and do the religious activities. In others hand, the village name also put his name at the back, that is “Kampung Losong Haji Su” because of his kindness and his contribution to the villagers.
9) Religious and Spiritual values - There are three parts of the house, balcony space is relatively small, but immediately stepped into the living room, that area quite pleasant with the size 4.8 x 18 meters and is divided into two corners of the old sofa features. Creation of separate the two side living room of male and female as well as compliance with Islam religious.The wood carving in the window that is very interesting and creative with the concept of flowers also bring the decoration of Islamic value.

Potential Risks

There are some potential risks that may be dangerous and causes of this house will be collapses, which is:
1) If observed carefully, the bottom floor of the house had been attacked by termites. If it is allowed to continue in the long term could weaken the wood floor structure and column connector further affect the overall weight balance of the house that may cause the house to collapse.
2) On the roof, there are several large leakages as a result from the breach of senggora tile form one large space. The effect of this leakage causes rainwater to flow easily into the house. Rain and hot weather and high moisture content can lead to the aging and decaying buildings. Spots of rain that falls will be wet wood floors and warm weather when the sun can cause seizure occurred on wooden floors. If there were no efforts made to overcome this problem, likely this abandoned traditional house will suffer severe damage and collapse on its own.


Based on earlier studies we have done, we really felt that the House Hj. Su should be preserved as a heritage building the state. After taking into account all significant values of the building, all responsible parties should take a more proactive so that this heritage building should be conserved properly.

Efforts made by the State Museum to preserve this building as soon as possible are very much appreciated. Although Hj. Su’s House still has not become the property of Terengganu State Museum, a variety of proactive action from the museum shows that they are really care about the history of the house especially to the local community and the development of Kampung Losong Hj. Su itself.
As the conclusion, it is a loss if we allow this heritage building abandoned or demolished only for development purposes, while the uniqueness and greatness of Hj. Su’s House has successfully attracted many architects, engineers, historic buildings or researchers from foreign countries, for example, Australia, Germany, and France. It clearly shows that the mentalities of our society is still lagging behind and still fail to appreciate the country's historical heritage. We should make it as a good platform to promote the legacy of greatness in the Terengganu in particular and Malaysia in general excellence

clearly understand why the house is named with such name. The roofs are design to be triplet with pelehPeleh is boards located between two roofs and form a unique and interesting shape. When viewed, people will know it symbolizes the sculpture ofTerengganu home, endowments or huts. The material used for the roof is Senggoratiles which can be found many in Thailand. As we explore the house we saw many defects on the roof.




  1. Terengganu.. beautiful place..

  2. ade mne2 ipt y dh buat measured drawing utk rumah ni x??

  3. Saye cicit Haji Su..thankz for this post..teringat blk kenangan zaman kecik kat rumah neh :)

    1. Hisashi Due,, boleh saya dptkan contact number tak? sbb skrg sy sdg buat research utk tesis pasal rumah Hj Su nk dptkan sikit maklumat dari waris Allahyarham... sy berharap sgt saudara dpt tlong saya.... kalau terbaca komen ni,, boleh x rply kat emai ni :

  4. assalamualaikum,,saudari izzati,,,sy pn sdg mnjalankan research pasal rumah ni...kalau saudari terbaca komen ni,, boleh x kalau sy nak minta saudari email saya kt alamat segala pertolongan dari saudari sy ucapkn terima kasih..