I stayed in a Tulou this weekend.
Through a series of connections – the kind of connections that often happen when you travel, meet new people, and generally push yourself out of your routines and comfort zones – I was invited to participate in a seminar organized by the Urbanus Research Bureau (the research department within the Urbanus Architecture and Design firm located in Shenzhen, Hong Kong, and Shanghai). Urbanus organized a series of weekend workshops in Pinghe County, Fujian while a related not-for-profit called Friends of Tulou provided residency for many participants in Qingxing Lou, a Tulou a few hours to the north in Tianzhong Village, in the Shuyang Township of Nanjing County, Fujian.
So what’s a Tulou and what does it have to do with urban planning? I’m glad you asked.
A Tulou is a large, multi-family dwelling structure common in parts of southern China through the 12th-20th century. Made mostly from packed dirt, stone, and shoots of bamboo, they are typically (though not always) round, with few outside windows and only one door. This became a popular design for small, rural communities because it provided maximum protection from the elements and raiding bandits.
Some planners in China along with firms like Urbanus have taken an interest in Tulous for their unique architectural and community-oriented character. A tulou-like mixed-use development, oriented around a large, shared community space could make for some lively place to live, work, dine, or entertain, right?
- T- 14 Days (adventuresaroundasia.wordpress.com)