A fellow by the name of Mr. Ramadan has created this unique resort just outside of Kuala Lumpur in an area known as Hulu Langat.
Mr. Ramadan, who studied mechanical engineering, majoring in automotive diesel, worked at a bank for 24 years of his life and in 2008 he decided to stop his office job and to do real work with his hands. He wanted to be outdoors instead of cooped up in an office. He says that he did it primarily for health reasons and has since seen the results. Among other things, he no longer needs his prescription spectacles and his formerly high blood pressure has come under control.
Mr. Ramadan has become a builder of bamboo structures, a rarity these days in Malaysia, a country that has considerable petroleum resources and has developed rapidly. Along with the rapid modernization, came rapid change of mainstream perceptions. Bamboo is now commonly viewed as being "wood for the poor" according to Mr. Ramadan, but this perception is starting to change and it is Mr. Ramadan’s mission to help accelerate that change.
Before 2008, Mr. Ramadan had absolutely no experience with building anything, much less structures made out of bamboo. A chance meeting with a builder from Indonesia changed that and Mr. Ramadan hired the builder to construct a house on his land in a still relatively underdeveloped area outside of Kuala Lumpur named Hulu Langat.
Mr. Ramadan immersed himself in the project and worked alongside the builder and his team and learned how to build with bamboo — enough that on the second phase of his design he went solo and recruited international volunteers, affectionately known as WWOOFers, to help him build the structures. He also made innovations to the traditional Indonesian methods and incorporated modern and novel elements into his structures.
The structures are cool without the need for air-conditioning. They are stable, comfortable and modern. Bamboo Village Kuala Lumpur also boasts a serious lack of mosquitoes due to a relatively unknown species of plant, Evodia Suaveolens, also know as Zodia.
Bamboo Village Kuala Lumpur has been featured in a variety of local media outlets in Malaysia and also has attracted many international visitors through the website and through word of mouth.
Mr. Ramadan’s primary building material is bamboo. Not only is it beautiful but it boasts a number of advantages for building in the tropics. It is plentiful and grows extremely fast. It is lightweight and yet still extremely strong. Bamboo is a material that can form a significant aspect of designs in the tropics. Research, experimentation and innovation with bamboo should only increase as we move forward. Bamboo Village Kuala Lumpur is an excellent demonstration of this.
The structures are situated on an area that is less than an acre and is nicely landscaped. Mr. Ramadan’s vision for the future is to produce much of the food for the guests, if not all of it, right from the land itself. Once the basics of Permaculture became known to him, he was very interested to apply the design methodology to his site and hopes it can improve upon and enhance what he has already created.
Mr. Ramadan is part of the story that is now unfolding around the globe, a story which no one can really follow along with in detail, but it is possible to appreciate the broad pattern. It is a pattern of many individuals opting to forge an unusual path, a path that revives traditional practices, but in a way that also includes conventional or modern practices as well as novel new and innovative approaches. The ability to draw on these three kinds of knowledge, the traditional, the conventional and the innovative are infused within Permaculture and must be explicitly encouraged.
Permaculture is not just about growing food — while food production is definitely of utmost importance, the Permaculture design methodology is so robust and expansive that we cannot limit it to food production alone. Wise Permaculture insiders already know this and believe this, but the public at large does not and it is our responsibility to change this perception, just as Mr. Ramadan intends to change the perception of bamboo in his home country of Malaysia.
So, Tell me Again, What is Permaculture?
I’ve been asked a number of times whether Permaculture is a way of life. My answer is no. I remind the questioner that all the roads, bridges, and buildings were at some point designed by someone. Permaculture is what informs the process of designing and planning all aspects of human settlements.
Bamboo Village Kuala Lumpur is a place where the methodology of Permaculture and the sensory experience of natural craftsmanship come together. Whether walking around the site, relaxing inside the naturally cool buildings or enjoying a conversation with Mr. Ramadan himself, time spent at the Bamboo Village is a refreshing and enlightening experience in and of itself. The transformative experience that is a two-week Permaculture Design course, with amazing people from around the world, will only be bolstered at a place like this.
Mr. Ramadan has invested tremendous effort and care into designing and developing Bamboo Village Kuala Lumpur and it shows. Just touching the delicately crafted bamboo translates the spirit of the place directly to your fingertips. The hard work and the many technical challenges he faced in using natural materials against the backdrop of a modern globalized economy is a feat to be commended. He has a wealth of knowledge and is very happy to share with those who desire to listen.
Mr. Ramadan is part of the process of transformation and so are all of us if we choose to be. There are many different pieces of the puzzle to address, and that is why the more people we align to working in this direction the more hope we can have of a truly harmonious dwelling on planet Earth. Mr. Ramadan’s wonderful Bamboo Village is just one example of many. It is through people such as him that change will come about, without the media or the masses possibly even noticing.
The good news is that so long as nature exists Permaculture can be used to enhance design. Design possibilities cannot be exhausted and perfection remains an ever-elusive goal and we shouldn’t have it any other way.
The power of positive incremental change by millions and eventually billions of people will be required to truly live in balance with the eco-systems we are part of. We can’t grasp the enormity of the transformation taking place, but thankfully we don’t have to. All we have to do is our own little bit.
Come join us at the Bamboo Village Kuala Lumpur in January 2014 to be part of an experience that is designed to enhance perspectives. To register for the Murujan Permaculture Design Certificate Course, taught by PRI PDC Teacher Rhamis Kent, please click here.