Eye of the Architect: The Made Wijaya Photograph Collection

In a career spanning more than 30 years, Made Wijaya compiled a photographic archive of architectures and tropical gardens in Bali and beyond. ISEAS Library is fortunate to be the home of his collection of some 40,000 photographs.

The collection, deposited with ISEAS in three tranches in 1986, 1992 and 2016, presents visual documentation of vernacular architecture and its adaptation in Wijaya’s designs.


Made Wijaya (alias Michael White, 1953-2016), was an Australian-born, Bali-based landscape architect and designer. He first ventured to Bali in 1973 and subsequently made Bali his home for over 30 years. An upper-caste Brahmin family took him in as their own son, following which he converted to Hinduism and changed his name to Made Wijaya in 1975 in a temple ceremony[i]. Wijaya designed at least 600 public and private gardens around the world, in places from the US, Mexico and Belize, to Spain, Morocco, Southeast Asia and Australia[ii]. As a recognised authority on tropical gardens and architecture, he also authored seminal books on Balinese vernacular architecture (see book list at the end of this article).

Special gift-edition book Balinese architecture: towards an encyclopaedia. Only 50 copies of this book were printed.

Made Wijaya’s long association with ISEAS started in 1986 when he deposited his slides, photographs and negatives on Balinese architecture, and his special gift-edition book entitled Balinese architecture: towards an encyclopaedia. He continued to visit ISEAS Library to sort the photographs in subsequent years, and in 1992 added some 88 slides to his collection.

When ISEAS planned its current premises at Heng Mui Keng Terrace in the early1990s, Wijaya’s company P.T. Wijaya Tribuwana International was the landscape consultant for the project. While the ISEAS premises was conceptually underpinned by Southeast Asian architectural precedents, the lush courtyards he designed added the artistic charm of Balinese gardens to the ISEAS compound.

In 2016, just after he passed away, the Library received close to 40,000 digital photographs from his office.


Wijaya’s photographs deposited in 1986 and 1992 focus on Balinese architecture. The collection, consisting of some 1,000 items, comprehensively covers the various elements of Balinese architecture, from courtyards, temples, shrines, pavilions, gates to smaller components such as statues and decorations.   

For example, the photographs below show variations of Balinese pavilions, called bale in Bali. These traditional pavilions in Balinese architecture are the arms and legs of courtyard design, where every shrine and domestic habitat or living space can be thought of as variations of a pure pavilion form[iii]. Many more variations and examples can be found in this collection.


The last batch of digital photographs received from the late Made Wijaya’s office consisted of close to 40,000 items, dating from 2001 to 2016. It was his intention to donate his photographic archives, relating to architecture in Southeast Asia, to the ISEAS Library to complete previous donations he made in the 1980s and 1990s.

These photographs, centring on the vernacular architecture of the Indonesian archipelago as well as other parts of the world, were taken mostly during Wijaya’s trips. As he mentioned in his book Made Wijaya’s tropical garden design, travel had been his “best teacher”[iv], and design elements from the architecture in these photos were likely adapted and incorporated into his own designs.

This collection of photographs also includes Wijaya’s design projects. We can see from the selection below that his design style was very much inspired by vernacular architecture.

Selections of his photographs from the 1980s-90s were published in the books Balinese architecture: towards an encyclopaedia, Architecture of Bali – a source book of traditional and modern forms and Made Wijaya’s tropical garden design. These photographs provide a wide source of reference to inspire both professionals and members of the public who are interested in architecture and garden design. The entire Made Wijaya Collection is available for viewing in the ISEAS Library.


[i] “Made Wijaya, landscape architect, author and stranger in paradise”. The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 September 2016. https://www.smh.com.au/national/made-wijaya-landscape-architect-author-and-stranger-in-paradise-20160831-gr58qs.html (accessed 17 August 2022)

[ii] Barker, Anne, “Made Wijaya: Flamboyant Bali garden guru remembered as witty, kind and generous”. ABC News, 30 August 2016. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-30/made-wijaya-obituary-flamboyant-gardening-guru-remembered/7799384 (accessed 8 August 2022)

[iii] Wijaya, Made. Balinese architecture: Towards an Encyclopaedia. Jakarta: Super Express photocopy house, 1984.

[iv] Wijaya, Made. Made Wijaya’s Tropical Garden Design. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet, 1999.

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