During my trip to Fujian province in China we visited the Nanjing tulou area which I found absolutely fascinating. Built between the 12th and 20th centuries these earthen buildings are unique to the Hakka people in the mountainous areas of south-east Fujian.
These, mostly round, enclosed buildings with thick rammed-earth walls, are many stories high, and can often house about 800 people.
Forty-six tulou sites were inscribed (2008) by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites, and as “exceptional examples of a building tradition and function exemplifying a particular type of communal living and defensive organization [in a] harmonious relationship with their environment.
We only spent a few hours in the area, and as I knew nothing about them before visiting, I will let my photos do the talking – hover over the picture to see the captions.
However, Wikipedia tells me that the one we visited is called “Yuchanglou (裕昌樓) is a five-storey tulou located at Nanjing County, Shuyang Town, Xiabanliao Village. It was built in 1308 Yuan dynasty by the Liu family clan. It is one of the oldest and tallest tulou in China. Yuchanglou has been nicknamed the “zigzag building”, because the vertical wooden post structure is not straight and perpendicular, but zigzags left and right. It was built that way due to an error measuring the building materials. But in spite of this apparent infirmity, this tall tulou withstood 700 years of natural elements and social turmoil. Yuchanglou’s outer ring is 36 m in diameter and boasts five storeys, with 50 rooms on each floor, 270 in total.
Each of the 25 kitchens on the ground floor at the back half of the circle has a private water well beside its stove. This is the only tulou in all Fujian with such convenient water supply”.
I’d certainly visit here again, and stay longer if possible – apparently you can be hosted in one of the tulou.