From Boluf to Kampung: Spatial Changes in The Korowai Traditional Settlements

Kemas Ridwan Kurniawan, Kevin Aditya Giovanni Suhanto, Dini Puti Angelia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Korowai is one of the traditional tribes in Papua, Indonesia. For centuries, the lives of Korowai people have been synonymous with the forest. This tribe builds its dwellings on the top of high trees. Its people live separately from the other clans and only gather with families who share the same clan lineage. This circumspect community life and habitat of the Korowai is called the Boluf, which are the nuclei of the Korowai traditional settlements. Unfortunately, during recent decades, the pressure of modernization through government and missionary resettlement programs has pushed the Korowai Tribe to move from their traditional tree house lifestyle in the Boluf to new settlements known as Kampungs (villages), whose dwellings are located on the ground and are markedly different from traditional tree houses in the Boluf. In the kampung, they live together not only with their own clan, but also with people from different clans. This paper discusses the effects of the resettlement of Korowai dwellings through socio-cultural and morphological aspects of space. Two research questions are: Does this modern intervention trigger the transformation of the Korowai tribal livelihood? and What kind of adaptations are being undertaken by the existing community in facing the changing of its settlements and traditions? This paper uses a qualitative approach by intersecting and dissecting spaces and people. It is supported by a literature review, interviews with the local community and some documentation that was obtained during the UI Architecture Student expedition to Korowai in 2015 and field research in 2017. It concludes that resettlement efforts need to consider the identity and cultural roots of the Korowai Tribe, so as the link between their current Boluf and resettlement locations in the kampung are maintained. There is also a need for sustainable guidance for the Korowai Tribe thrTugh community development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-20
Number of pages9
JournalISVS E-journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • Adaptation
  • Change
  • Dwelling
  • Intervention
  • Resettlement
  • Space


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