The Orang Asli community in West Malaysia* is only 0.7% of the Malaysian population of 32 million. Out of this small percentage, only 0.7% live in urban areas.

This design thesis is a design guide that can be replicated in other rural areas in Peninsular Malaysia and can be altered, specific to the community it is built for. It challenges inequality in society faced by the Orang Asli community in West Malaysia, in regards to the climate crisis and the urban-rural divide in Malaysia. The project redistributes power in society across geographical location, influence in society and language barriers by improving visibility, rights and access to vital amenities more readily available in urban Malaysia, which are otherwise inaccessible to the community. The project also empowers the community through better participation in formal education in the long run through safe, welcoming, inclusive and representative spaces for education that prevent bullying in school and addresses the community’s special needs for learning through inclusive design strategies and participatory methods. It allows language maintenance of lesser spoken languages that have a rural base and are often only spoken in the area its population lives thus preventing its decline due to population dispersion and emigration due to employment or education.  

This project achieves these through a bottom-up approach to collaborative community build and social reproduction of space between urban and local builders through a pedagogical and sustainable approach to building together, drawing upon an intercultural exchange of knowledge and skill-sharing between the two groups, combining traditional construction techniques and generations of environmental knowledge and wisdom that the community possess, with modern methods of construction and materials. The design guide allows the community to take control over their built environment and to be participative through proactive rather than reactive methods, paying attention to the preservation of the environmental and cultural heritage as well as creating a sense of community. The project rethinks the production of architecture and the built environment through spatial agency, for a community that is more than not excluded from urban environments and cities. The design guide also features handmade technologies using local materials that do not require the need for specialized tools or knowledge in construction to participate fully. At the same time, the project tackles climate injustice faced by the community whose lives and livelihoods are so intertwined with nature and tied to the ecological landscape yet are especially vulnerable to climate change, through the use of climate-resilient structures, environmental strategies and use of local and sustainable materials such as bamboo, bertam leaves and rattan. 

*The project only refers to the Orang Asli community in West Malaysia.

As an aspiring architect, my interests include safe and inclusive education and learning spaces, sustainability, biophillic design, user centred design and am open to any new learning experiences.