Sabah’s traditional culture of weaving natural materials, bamboo, rattan and fern, is declining. Traditions are being forgotten by the younger generation and natural resources are not being protected. At the same time, there is a reliance on non-sustainable and mass-produced products that bring no benefits either to the community or the natural environment.
Arkitrek Works promotes the application of Sabah’s indigenous peoples’ traditional culture to the creation of innovative building materials using natural resources rich in the region. This revives traditional culture among the younger generation, and creates a source of pride and identity for communities.
The primary product line is a range of bamboo weave panels developed in collaboration with rural communities in Sabah. We have taken a handicraft tradition and scaled it up into building components. The panels can be used for building cladding, where they create a beautiful, breathable and light-filtering wall. Internally they can be dividing screens, finishes or a piece of art in their own right: nature and culture combined.
Producing these building components revives a traditional culture and generates income from natural materials. To date, Arkitrek has generated approximately MYR60,000 in bamboo weave income through construction of four community projects. In the photo below, one of our weavers gives a demonstration of his craft at the Borneo Eco Film Festival in 2012
Our greatest challenge is developing capacity of our suppliers. The basics such as ensuring consistent price, quality and reliable delivery times have taken us several years to implement. As we add more communities to our list of suppliers this capacity building will continue. Another challenge is adapting the handicraft tradition to large scale building components. Our artisans find it difficult to make the transition in scale from something that should look beautiful when held in the hands to something that should look beautiful when viewed from a distance.
Bamboo weave panels also use rattan and jungle fern in their construction. In the past these were staple commodities but in the age of industrial agriculture: rubber and oil palm, these traditional forest products are becoming hard to find. With only a little prompting from us, our longest-serving supplier, Jomini and his family from Tinangol, have started planting bamboo in their kebun. By creating a market for natural building materials we create an economic incentive to diversify agriculture and protect the areas where the raw materials are found.
Arkitrek Works’ Bamboo Beave Panels are for sale at prices from MYR15-MYR18 per square foot. Minimum order of 100 square feet. Ex Kota Kinabalu. Contact us for more information.