Spatial Arrangement of Coastal Sama-Bajau Houses Based on Adjacency Diagram


  • Iziq Eafifi Ismail Universiti Teknologi Malaysia
  • Abdullah Sani Ahmad Universiti Teknologi Malaysia



This research studies the diversification of space distribution in selected Sama-Bajau dwellings along the north coast of Sabah: Kudat and Pitas; and east coast of Sabah: Mabul Island. This study investigates the frequency of spatial arrangements in Sama-Bajau coastal houses as a preliminary step in understanding their ideal home based on the existing socio-culture and economic practice. Adjacency Distribution Diagram by Mushtaha et al (2011) is used for simpler and compact visual diagram that explains the space distribution in each house attended. This paper is exploratory and applies a qualitative method. This study suggests that the spatial distribution amongst coastal Sama-Bajau consists of Dynamic interconnectivity (Type A), linear configuration (Type B), Anarchy configuration (Type C and D) and Modernist influence (Type E). The frequency of given types is found to weighs more on Type B, which is a linear configuration from the entrance towards guest area and ending up to the living area. 


Ali, Ismail. (2010) Since Birth Till Death, What is Their Status: A Case Study of the Sea Bajau in Pulau Mabul, Semporna.

Beng Liang, Yap. (1977) ‘Sistem kepercayaan orang bajau omadal Sabah’ (Kuala Lumpur: Jabatan Pengajian Melayu, Universiti Malaya. Data paper, bil.21.

Caudill, William Wayne. 1971. Architecture by team: a new concept for the practice of architecture. Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1971. University of Michigan.

Chou, Cynthia. (1997) ‘Contesting the Tenure of Territoriality: the Orang Suku Laut’.Vol.153 (4):605-29

Chou, Cynthia. (2006) Research Trends on Southeast Asian Sea Nomads on Kyoto. Review of Southeast Asia articles.

Clifton, Julian. (2009) ‘Science, Funding and Participation: Key Issues for Marine Protected Area Networks and the Coral Triangle Initiative’, Environmental Conservation, Vol. 36, 91-6

Clifton, Julian. Majors, Chris. (2011) ‘Culture, Conservation and Conflict: Perspectives on Marine Protection among the Bajau of South East Asia’, Society and Natural Resources, Vol. 0: 1–10

Dacanay, J.E. (1989) Coastal and Inland Dwellings in Folk Architecture, Rodrigo D. Perez, Rosario S. Encarnacion & Julian E. Dacanay, 1989, GCF Books. <>

Department of Statistics Sabah 2013, from -

Ibrahim, Ismail. Aminullah, M. A. Jusilin, Humin. Bebit, M.P. Sahibil, Zaimie. (2013) Warisan Seni & Budaya Masyarakat Kepulauan Pesisir Sabah.

Jackson, John B. (1984) Discovering the Vernacular Landscape (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984), p. 156.

Jusan, M & Sulaiman. (2005) Personalization as a sustainable approach to mass housing: The Fundamental Theory, Conference on Sustainable Building South East Asia, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.

Khattab, O. (2005) Socio-spatial analysis of traditional Kuwaiti houses in

‘Methodologies in Housing Research’, The Urban International Press, Great Britain, 141-158.

Kling, Zainal. (1995) “Adat sebagai Indikator Struktur Sosial: Bajau Sabah.” Dawat. Jurnal Kebudayaan Pusat Pengajian Bahasa dan Kebudayaan Melayu. Universiti Riau. Indonesia.

Kurosawa, K. (1988) A diagram procedure of pattern analysis for house plan types by use of their constituent patterns derived from the circulation requirements. Journal of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Engineering, Japan.

Lenhart, L. (1997) Orang Suku Laut ethnicity and acculturation. Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, 153(4):577-604.

Lowe, C. (2003). The magic of place; Sama at sea and on land in Sulawesi, Indonesia, Ethnology 159 (2003), Kitlv- journals.

Mushtaha, E. et al. (2010) Assessment Tools: Mathematical Factorial and Adjacency Distribution Theory for Housing Typology in Gaza City, Archnet-IJAR- International Journal of Architectural Research, USA , Vol.4, Issue.1, PP.149/157

Mushtaha, S. Emad. S. Arar, Mohammad. (2011) House Typology from Adjacency Diagram Theory to Space Orientation Theory. International Journal of Civil & Environmental Engineering IJCEE-IJENS Vol: 11 No: 02

Miller, M.T. (2011) Social Organization of West Coast Bajau. SIL Electronic Working Papers 2011-009, September 2011

Nimmo, H. Arlo. (1968) Reflections on Bajau History. Philippine

Studies 16(1): 32-59.

Nimmo, H. (2001) “Reflections on Bajau History”, Philippine Studies 16, no. 1 (1968), pp. 22-23

Nolde, Lance. (2009) ‘Great is our Relationship with the Sea: Charting the Maritime Realm of the Sama of Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia’, Explorations, Vol. 9: 15-33

Nornis, Saidatul. (2012) Bajau Pantai Darat. Siri Etnik Sabah ITBM-UMS 2012. Universiti Malaysia Sabah

Peponis, J and Wineman, J. (2003) Chapter 18, spatial structure of Environment and behavior, handbook of environmental psychology, John Wiley & Sons

Rapoport, A. (1988) Levels of meaning in the built environment. In F. Poyatos (Ed.), Cross-cultural perspectives in non-verbal communication (pp. 79-109)

Rodney, C Jubilado, Hanafi Hussin & Maria Khristina Manueli. (2010) The Sama-Bajaus of Sulu-Sulawesi Seas: Perspectives from linguistics and culture, Jati, volume 15, December 2010

Sather, Clifford. (1997) The Bajau Laut: Adaptation, History, and Fate in a Maritime Fishing Society of Southeastern Sabah, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997).

Sather, Clifford. (2001) Bajau Laut Boat-Building in Semporna. Techniques & Culture. 35-36 (2001)

Sahibil, Zaimie. (2013) Konsep Dan Ruang Rumah (Perahu) Tradisi Suku Kaum Bajau Laut, on-going doctoral dissertation in Universiti Malaysia Sabah.

Sopher, D.E., 1977 (1965) The Sea Nomads: A Study of the Maritime Boat People of Southeast Asia. Singapore: National Museum of Singapore

Sendera. H, Mohd Yakin. Nornis, Saidatul, Hj. Mahali. (2008) Duang: the semiotic interpretation and perception of the Bajau-Sama community in Sabah. Jurnal Komunikasi, 24 . pp.63-71.

Sabah Land Ordinance (Sabah Cap. 68) – Reference March 2013

Saat, Gusni. (2003a) Komuniti Samah-Bajau di Bandar. Bangi. Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

Saat, Gusni. (2003b) The identity and Social Mobility of Sama-Bajau. Sari 21 (2003) 3-11

Sather, Clifford. (2001) Bajau laut boat-building in Semporna in ‘Techniques & Culture’, 35-36 | 2001.

Sauer, Carl O. (1963) ‘The Morphology of Landscape’, in Land and Life: A Selection from the writings of Carl Ortwin Sauer, ed. by J. Leighly (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1963), pp. 315-350 (first publ. in Geography, 2.2 (1925), 19-54)

Sendera. H, Mohd Yakin. (2007) Identiti Budaya Etnik Palau’ di Semporna, Sabah: Konservasi, Adaptasi dan Transformasi Budaya, Occasional Paper No. 7, Kota Kinabalu: Pusat Penataran Ilmu dan Bahasa, Universiti Malaysia Sabah

St. John, S. (1974) Life in the Forests of the Far East. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press.




How to Cite

Ismail, I. E., & Ahmad, A. S. (2015). Spatial Arrangement of Coastal Sama-Bajau Houses Based on Adjacency Diagram. International Journal of Built Environment and Sustainability, 2(4).