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Old February 3rd, 2009, 06:59 PM   #1
hkskyline
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Fujian Tulou

Source : http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1113

Fujian Tulou is a property of 46 buildings constructed between the 15th and 20th centuries over 120 km in south-west of Fujian province, inland from the Taiwan Strait. Set amongst rice, tea and tobacco fields the Tulou are earthen houses. Several storeys high, they are built along an inward-looking, circular or square floor plan as housing for up to 800 people each. They were built for defence purposes around a central open courtyard with only one entrance and windows to the outside only above the first floor. Housing a whole clan, the houses functioned as village units and were known as “a little kingdom for the family” or “bustling small city.” They feature tall fortified mud walls capped by tiled roofs with wide over-hanging eaves. The most elaborate structures date back to the 17th and 18th centuries. The buildings were divided vertically between families with each disposing of two or three rooms on each floor. In contrast with their plain exterior, the inside of the tulou were built for comfort and were often highly decorated. They are inscribed as exceptional examples of a building tradition and function exemplifying a particular type of communal living and defensive organization, and, in terms of their harmonious relationship with their environment, an outstanding example of human settlement.


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Old February 9th, 2009, 11:26 AM   #2
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Nice photos, thank you for sharing.
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Old March 28th, 2009, 08:18 PM   #3
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Visitors marvel at homes made of sugar and rice
Unesco puts ancient buildings on heritage list

3 January 2009
The Times

Chickens peck their way around satellite dishes that battle for space with pig pens and wood-fired stoves in the courtyard of Mr Jiang's earthen clanhouse, one of the most extraordinary buildings in China.

US intelligence once mistook the sturdy edifices, mostly built in a circle resembling a doughnut, for missile silos strategically hidden in the remote hills of southeastern Fujian province. Further research revealed that the "silos" were the ancient fortified homes of the Hakka, a fishing people who sought safety from persecution in this inaccessible corner of the country.

After centuries of quiet obscurity, the "tulou" — earthen buildings — have gained prominence since Unesco added 46 of the structures to its world heritage list this year.

The Government fought for years to gain the listing and now tourists are pouring in.

Almost as quickly, the residents are moving out. With rising living standards, descendants of the clans that built the dwellings from a packed mix of sand, earth, mud and pebbles bound together with glutinous rice and brown sugar are building new brick-and-tile homes in nearby villages.

It is an exodus that disturbs Jiang Deqing, the chief of the Chengqilou tulou that once housed more than 100 people and now is home to only 32 — mostly elderly and young children. Mr Jiang said: "If anyone can afford to, then they move out.

They want homes with lavatories and bigger rooms." Without inhabitants, the tulou deteriorate rapidly. Next door stands the Wuyunlou, its four-storey front wall cracked and buckling. Inside, wooden poles provide a flimsy buttress. A notice at the door forbids visitors from entering or climbing the steep stairs in case the structure crumbles.

But three old people still live inside. Mr Jiang said: "The Government begs them to leave but this is their home and they want to stay." He hopes that the 600-year-old tulou, among the oldest of the houses built between 1300 and the 1960s, will be among the first to benefit from restoration after the world heritage listing.

Xi Songying, 71, tells of his pride in his 376-year-old clan home. Only eight families remain in the ruins that once housed more than 300 people. "The Government wants us to sell, but we refuse. We have always lived here." The younger generation is far less sentimental. From Qing Lian's three-storey brick house she can look down on the circular tulou that was her home for decades.

"It was so inconvenient and dirty. My daughters have built this house where we have a bathroom on every floor. Only people without money still live down there." This poses a dilemma for the Government, which is eager to preserve the buildings but lacks the resources to maintain them — there are 20,000 in Yongding county alone — and cannot force residents to stay.

The risk is that the tulou will soon be nothing more than museums.

Even if the ancient tulou cannot all survive, the Chinese architect firm Urbanus may have found a way to preserve the style. It is building a tulou affordable housing project in the southern city of Guangzhou.

The circular structure will house 245 apartments, a dormitory, small hotel, shops and even a gym.

Urbanus believes that the distinctive shape provides an alternative to the ubiquitous urban blocks.

The tulou buildings in Fujian province once housed hundreds of people each. Now they contain a few dozen at most as more people opt for modern homes.
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Old April 21st, 2009, 03:43 PM   #4
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Old April 24th, 2009, 03:14 AM   #5
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Old April 29th, 2009, 06:08 AM   #6
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A sight for poor spies
15 March 2009
Sun Herald

China

Sally Hammond visits the Fujian houses that baffled the US in the Cold War.

Our guide points to the crone seated just inside the doorway, grinning toothlessly at us. "See that old lady? She's 90." Ancient as she is, the amazing "house that is a village" we have just entered is far older. In fact, some of its doughnut-shaped earthen buildings were built as long as 700 years ago, by Mongolian refugees who, after many years of searching, chose to settle in the fertile valleys of China's Fujian Province.

Here, in these impregnable rammed-earth houses topped with black terracotta tiles, life began again. At an altitude of 800 metres, the cool climate was perfect to grow cabbages and persimmons, tea and turnips. Little did they realise that, centuries later, their unique architecture would almost spark an international incident.

In 1985, with the Cold War still front and centre, these strange square and ring-shaped structures looked sinister enough on the US surveillance satellite to rattle the White House. After all, they were hidden in valleys directly inland from Taiwan. The US government sent in spies to check out the "group nuclear base".

Today, there is a smooth new highway to Yongding from Xiamen, a tourist island and bustling city on the coast south of Shanghai. Delightfully relaxed and dotted with lakes and waterways, Yongding is one of China's smaller cities, with a population of just 5million. It is almost within sight of Taiwan. In fact, you can just see one of the archipelago's outlying islands a few kilometres offshore.

By coach, it is a comfortable four-hour trip. But the US investigators had to trek in over mountains to see and photograph the evidence - only to leave swiftly, embarrassed.

If our welcome was anything to go by, on entering each "reactor" they would have been offered a cup of green tea, while the only weapons they would have found were knives and cleavers used to dispatch chickens and pigs for the cooking pot. The clay courtyard of the four-storey earthen fortresses would have been filled with fluffy yellow ducklings, toddlers and people going about their daily business.

Warfare was the furthest thing from the minds of these peaceful inhabitants.

To visit a "tulou", 46 of which were added to the UNESCO World Heritage list last year, is to step through a portal into another culture, another time. Big enough for up to a thousand people, each "house" is a complete village, usually accommodating an entire clan .

Outside, on concrete slabs, chillies, corn, mushrooms, persimmons and rosellas are drying in the sunshine, while slender heads of cabbage hang on a fence.

As we clamber up the shaky stairs from the ground floor, which is reserved for communal activities, past the second floor used for storage to the accommodation level, I feel for the elderly who have yet another staircase to manage - inexplicably, the fourth (and top) floor is reserved for them.

Downstairs, we sample some of the locally grown tea and marvel over a bottle of strong spirit filled with enormous bumblebees. "Drink it. Good for the knees!" we are exhorted. Maybe we'd need to if we had to manage those stairs every day.

Then came an offer too good to refuse.

Hokkien (Hakka) is the cuisine of Taiwan, though it is perhaps better known as a staple in the hawker food of Singapore and Malaysia. Many Chinese emigrated en masse from Fujian Province in the 19th century - ironically because of famine - and their simple peasant dishes, rich in soy sauce and duck, became the foundation of the popular "nonya" food, which grew out of the intermarriages with Malays.

We lunch in a small room outside the tulou. The plates come constantly: eggplant and red hot chillies, pork belly bathed in oily turnip broth, sweet potato chips dusted with sugar, fried whitebait, cold poached duck - all fried, all delicious and, finally, all too much.

You could be forgiven for thinking the original builders of the tulou were themselves frustrated chefs. To form the metre-thick walls, local red soil was first mixed with sand and stone and then glutinous rice, brown sugar and egg whites, making a mix stronger than concrete, even before it was reinforced with bamboo.

The balconies that run along each floor create an atrium overlooking the central area. Most tulous were built with a single gate, for security, and had a source of water inside, as well as waste disposal. Often a temple stands in the centre, for these people brought their Confucian and Daoist beliefs with them.

There are so many tulous in the area - the more elaborate ones date from the 17th and 18th centuries - that you could spend days exploring them. We visit another one in a delightful village called Taxii. Here, while there are some tulous, most people live in almost European-style houses overlooking the water.

In the late afternoon as we stroll along the path beside the river, we nod and smile at the locals seated outside their homes, smoking and relaxing with their families. Occasionally, we step aside for a cyclist, or a farm truck returning home, and once a shiny black sedan pushes importantly through.

In this remote part of China, it seems ludicrous to imagine satellites and nuclear reactors. But then to people who build with brown sugar and egg white, maybe not.

The writer travelled as a guest of Helen Wong's Tours.

TRIP NOTES

* Getting there Singapore Airlines flies from Sydney to Shanghai 24 times a week. Fares start from $811 plus taxes. Yongding is a four-hour coach ride from Xiamen. Helen Wong's Tours (02 9267 7833, see helenwongstours.com) has a six-day Fujian Province tour from April, for groups of two or more, for $1650 a person, twin share, land only.

* Staying there Overnight, before the tour starts, Central Hotel Shanghai. It's adjacent to the Nanjing Road Pedestrian Mall. See centralhotelshanghai.com.

* Further information See travelchinaguide.com/cityguides/fujian
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Old May 1st, 2009, 07:58 AM   #7
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Old May 1st, 2009, 07:11 PM   #8
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Old July 3rd, 2009, 09:46 PM   #9
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By 黑仔送 from dchome :









[img]http://www.dchome.net/attachments/day_090702/20090702_ac41baa57f1adb3fa40aUy6HfEOXSk7k.jpg





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Old July 4th, 2009, 03:09 AM   #10
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Reminds me of proto-cities of the Andronovo culture.

[img]http://i41.************/124vd6c.jpg[/img]

[Source].
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Old July 15th, 2009, 07:09 PM   #11
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Old December 6th, 2009, 07:45 PM   #12
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Old December 7th, 2009, 02:09 AM   #13
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wow, very interesting typology
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Old January 18th, 2010, 06:55 PM   #14
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By chiulkc from a Hong Kong discussion forum :

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Old February 14th, 2010, 06:03 PM   #15
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Old August 9th, 2010, 06:07 PM   #16
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Old August 12th, 2010, 03:55 PM   #17
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Very interesting, and nice picture.
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Old September 17th, 2010, 02:22 PM   #18
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Old January 23rd, 2011, 06:30 PM   #19
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Old March 1st, 2011, 04:38 PM   #20
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By 闲人白开水 from a Chinese photography forum :

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