Pangkal Pinang on Bangka Island is referred to as “Pin Kong” in some local Chinese dialects. The phrase is a portmanteau of “Pinang” and “kong”, which is Chinese for harbour. The city, which is the capital of Bangka-Belitung province, grew rapidly during the days of a lead mining rush in Kampung Air Mesu. The town boasts a long history that includes the saga of the Lay family, which emigrated from mainland China. One building that bears witness to the family’s storied history is the House of Lay.
Photo by Hongki Lisstiyadi
The Lay family home is located in Pangkal Pinang in a downtown area known as Kampung Katak. It was built on wetlands by the family’s patriarch, Lay Foeng Joe, in the mid-19th century. The 2,000-sqm building stands on a sprawling site of 11,000 sqm. Along with the development of Pangkal Pinang as a trade centre, the house was expanded to accommodate new functions as a hub for merchants and as a meeting place for officials of the Dutch colonial administration. The main building was renovated in 1894.
One-hundred-twenty years later, conservation was started to preserve the House of Lay as a heritage building. The project began with data collection to record information about the original building and by making an inventory of the damage sustained by the structure. The concept was to preserve and restore as much as possible, according to Danang Triatmoko of DHDT Architect, the architectural consultant commissioned to complete the renovation of this heritage building. “I tried to maintain the philosophy of the original building, which dictates that a home is a home. The only difference is that this home would not be used as living quarters and instead was designated as a museum to honour the Lay family legacy and the history of the city of Pangkal Pinang,” Danang said.
Most of the physical forms of the house were returned to their original shapes, which is the appeal of this heritage building. The layout of the main structure in the front of the site was largely preserved, in keeping with the original soul of the place. To reinforce this ambience, the area above the altar on the ground floor was slightly altered using a double-height ceiling technique that made use of the void overhead. The pavilion also underwent a design change to suit the home’s new function as a tourist attraction.
The main building comprises a porch, a main living room, a middle area, two main rooms on the left and right and an area on the floor above. The front porch comes with three main doors: An entrance to the living room; an entrance for the eldest son, who was regarded as the heir to the Lay family; and an opening on the right side that was used by the owner to relax in the afternoon.
The main living room was originally used to entertain guests. Inside, an orchestrion can be seen in the corner–a testament to its former use as an entertainment room and dancing area. An altar table that was custom-made in China and used for prayer by the Lay family is in the middle near a veritable throne where the head of the family used to sit during tea ceremonies.
The flooring throughout the building was made of wooden planks and the house used to be raised above the ground. Planks were used because the house stood on wetlands that might have otherwise dampened the floor. The house’s upper rooms were designated for other members of the Lay family, including children and grandchildren. Family events were held in the terraces at the back and in the middle of the house.
The most significant change was seen in the use of new material for the floors, since the existing planks were damaged. Other parts of the house crafted from wood also needed replacing due to mould, old age and damp. The pavilion on the left, which originally served as an office and guest bedroom, has been restored and is used as a restaurant. The right pavilion, originally a sitting room, is now a gallery.
Preserving a heritage building is never easy. Energy and effort were needed by the fifth generation of the Lay family to ensure the house’s continuous existence and conservation. In the hands of DHDT Architect, which has had vast experience in the conservation of heritage buildings, the newly restored structure presents a modest concept. The House of Lay maintains its rich legacy and background, which reflects the development of Pangkal Pinang itself.
House of Lay
Jl. Jend. Sudirman 65, Pangkalpinang, Bangka
Gross Floor Area
1,000 sqm consisting of 2 floors
PT Bangun Mega Lestari Architecture
Danang Triratmoko, IAI, AA
Interior Design, Lighting & Landscape Consultant
Lie Joen Thin