Circular Hakka Houses Create Self-Sustaining Communities

by , 02/18/11

sustainable design, green design, self-sufficient communities, hakka houses, china, tulou communities, rammed earth walls, world heritage site

Settled in the mountainous southwest of the Fujian province, these communities are known as Tulou and are essentially fortresses built in either square or round shapes. Structures typically had only one entrance way and no windows at ground level, and a building could withstand a protracted siege by being well-equipped with food and an internal source of water; they also often had their own sophisticated sewage systems.

sustainable design, green design, self-sufficient communities, hakka houses, china, tulou communities, rammed earth walls, world heritage site

Built from either stone bricks or more commonly rammed earth, these spectacular structures have walls up to six feet thick and measure three to four stories in height. The largest houses covered over 430,000 sq feet and today it is not unusual to find surviving houses of over 110,000 sq feet, each able to house up to 80 families.

The Tulou are a true testament to the richness that can be found in China, and an example of the efficiency, value and benefit that can be derived from a collective style of habitation. In 2008, UNESCO granted the Tulou “apartments” World Heritage Status, citing the buildings as exceptional examples of a unique and functional building tradition.

Via Global Post

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  1. M.f. Luo February 9, 2015 at 11:59 pm

    wsedrf — Some of the larger tulou I’ve been in do have a small farming area inside in case of emergency. While if they were holed up inside they would mainly subsist on stored food (it’s normal for to store at least a month’s supply), this could be supplemented by corn grown inside the structure. Each tulou also has a well, so they don’t have to go out for water.

    During WWII, Japanese troops attacked Longgang, which is now a suburb of Shenzhen. The members of the Luo clan went into their tulou and blocked the door. The Japanese tried to wait them out, but couldn’t. After a month, they resorted to bombing the structure from above.

  2. Bamboo Bridge School Wi... November 30, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    […] he had the idea to combine the school with a pedestrian bridge that connected two historic toulou (circular castles made from packed dirt). A creek runs right through the middle of the village and the toulou serve as important historical […]

  3. wsedrf June 2, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Self sustaining? Where’s the crop production? Having food storage areas is no more self-sustaining than a modern house with a fridge and presses.

  4. akihan November 15, 2009 at 6:23 am

    Most of the Tulous currently suffer from poor maintenance and hygiene problems. An entire clan would live in one single Tulou. Contrary to the peaceful idyllic appearance, neighboring tulou may be hostile to each other, i.e they are essentially segregated communities. Modern day hakka youths do not want to live in them and are shifting to the city.

    Just to put some things into perspective.

  5. s3xt0y November 13, 2009 at 10:21 am

    Those are neat.

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