WAEREBO-MALAM-HARI-Foto-By-Ferry-R-Tan-(109).jpgNight scenery in Wae Rebo is a wondrous sight lit by blazing stars.

Wae Rebo is the last village on Manggarai, West Flores in which the signature Manggarai conical houses called “mbaru niang”, can still be found. It is located in the hilly areas of West Flores, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. The remote location of the village, which could only be reached by five hours trip by cars followed by a three to four hour trekking, makes the village almost unknown, even to the people in the Flores Island.

waerebo_map_@.jpgIts hard to reach location makes Wae Rebo a paradise unknown to people.

In this social design project, Leboye collaborated with Rumah Asuh in an effort to promote the village of Wae Rebo as an eco-tourist destination in Indonesia. Rumah Asuh is a social movement initiated by Mr. Yori Antar, the principal architect of Han Awal & Partners Architects, that engages young architects to preserve the local wisdom of Indonesian architecture.

In 2008 while traveling in Flores, the Rumah Asuh team heard about a village called Waerebo and went for a visit. At that time, there were only four conical houses left in the village and the conservation of these unique heritage was disintegrating. The villagers are guardians of this culture but the complicated building techniques were passed from generation to generation only via spoken words. Without records in writings, that knowledge inevitably faded through time. Thus a major conservation project to preserve the endangered traditional architecture was undertaken from 2009 to 2011. The architects of Rumah Asuh initiated and facilitated a community-led revival of traditional techniques enabling all the original houses to be rebuilt.

Now, the village is back to its original formation of 7 conical houses. The project has won international and local awards, including the 2012 Asia Pacific UNESCO Cultural Heritage Conservation Award and Indonesian Architects Institute Award for conservation.

3.jpgThese unique cultural architectures were on the verge of disappearing.

The structure of “mbaru niang”, meaning drum house, is a symbol of unity in the family and community. It is where sacred heirloom drums and gongs are stored, and where different ceremonies and rituals are held. It also serves as a communal building, gathering eight families who are descended from a common ancestor under one roof.

waerebo.jpgLogo symbolizing unity of the clan and perpetuating cultural pride.

For the village branding, Leboye created a graphic representation of the signature conical house depicted from bird’s eye view. It also resembles the shape of “cancar”, a spiderweb rice field in Manggarai. The structure symbolizes the unity of the clan and reflects the natural, spiritual and ethnic environment.

IMG_7624.jpgBranding was inspired by the vibrant aesthetics of traditional songket cloths.

Even though weaving is not a major activity in Wae Rebo, some women weave traditional songket cloths. Taking cues from the vibrant aesthetics of “kain surak”, Leboye developed a branding that uses the color palatte in a more contemporary combination and through different implementations. The mix of traditional and modern helps elevate the image of Wae Rebo that is rich in culture and welcoming to visitors.

Wae-Rebo-packaging-ii-copy.jpgIMG_7562.jpgIMG_6726-3.jpgPackagings for homegrown vanilla, cinammon and coffee.

Wae rebo is famed for its finest community crops such as vanilla, honey and coffee. Coffee farming has been the livelihood of people for generations. Their natural bird-friendly method of growing coffee, without the use of chemicals, is highly valued in international markets.

With these highly sought after products, it is only appropriate to create a packaging that not only reflects their quality but also adds value to the products. In effort to encourage tourism, the designed items are only sold in Wae Rebo, where people learn to develop personal connections with the place and people, and appreciate the culture more.

IMG_6857-b.jpgwaerebo_postcards.jpgPostcards capturing the rich cultural heritage of Wae Rebo, the people and the environment.

Special thanks to Okke Hatta Rajasa, President of Cita Tenun Indonesia (CTI) for supporting the social project.

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