At August 27, 2012 the UNESCO announced the Award of Excellence, which is the highest award in the field of cultural heritage preservation, for a special kind of Indonesian houses. The award is given to conservation projects in the last ten years for buildings that have been outstanding for more than fifty years.
The houses only can be found in the small village “Wae Rebo” which is located in the district Manggarai on Flores Island. The houses of the of Manggarai tribe are called “Mbaru Niang” and look like cones.
United Nations which in charge of culture and science said that the provision Award of Excellece to Mbaru Niang is a new recognition of the architectural conservation.
This traditional house beat the 42 other candidates from 11 countries in Asia Pacific, including the historic irrigation systems in India, Zhizhusi complex in China, and Khilingrong mosque in Pakistan.
Wae Rebo can be regarded as a rare type. Not many cone houses are left in Flores.
In Wae Rebo there are four Mbaru Niang in similar size, except one house that serves as the main house and is larger sized where all custom meetings are held. Each house has six to eight families. In their history, once there were seven houses arranged in a semicircle.
In 2010, two aged cone houses have been demolished and rebuilt. In 2011, three cone houses were built, the villager have managed to restore back seven cone houses. All was done by local communities without outside interference. Originality and cultural richness of Wae Rebo are created without outside interference.
UNESCO also gave an award to the Foundation for Foster House, which was pioneered by the eminent architect Yori Antar from Jakarta. First time Yori and his colleagues visited the village in 2008, without knowing exactly where the village is located. Only by pictures on some postcards they asked people around to take them to the village.
With his efforts, finally he succeeded to lead the architectural project in Wae Rebo, utilizing local traditions and empower local people to rebuild the traditional house in the west of Flores.