Tulou renovation
Longyan City, Fujian, China
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Category:
meeting place
Phase:
in use
Design:
Rural Urban Framework, The University of Hong Kong
Updated:
21 September 2021
introduction
Formerly useful for its mines and outsized importance in the short-lived Chinese Soviet Republic (CSR), Lantian village, a fourth-tier city in Fujian province, now accommodates 1,500 inhabitants. Among the 20,000 tulou found in southern Fujian, this mountainous province is housing approximately 3,000 Fujian Tulou.

In 2008, a total of 46 Fujian tulou sites were inscribed by UNESCO as World Heritage Site:  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. 

A tulou is a traditional communal residence, usually circular in plan, surrounding a central shrine, common between Hakka communities. These vernacular structures were divided vertically between families and are exceptional examples of a building tradition and function exemplifying a particular type of communal living and defensive organization.

Today the tulou function has changed. These defensive structures formerly housing 800 people are now adopting new activities (religious activities, marketplaces, or schools). Transforming from an urban building in the rural context to a rural structure in a new surrounding urban environment, most of the region’s tulou are now experiencing individual transformations or abandonment.
The Core Team
The Tulou renovation was made possible through a collaboration between students at the University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Design Institute, Rural Urban Framework, local carpenters, and Lantian city officials in Fujian. Combining traditional carpentry with modern woodworking techniques, two structures have been created. 

The first intervention is a plug-in transforming the traditionally introverted building into a more open and accessible structure. While the second is a tower rethinking the tulou’s shared space with a spiral staircase, improving the connection between its different stories.
The core team

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Core team

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Core team

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Impact
The contribution of architecture students who volunteered during the summertime, coupled with constant communication between local government and the villagers during the whole project, brought about a process that was truly participatory. With this renovation, tulou's inherent value as organs of rural life and a continuous expression of the livelihood of their inhabitants is once again apparent.

Since the completion of the two structures in 2019, Lantian village has seen an increase in visitors. The Tower is now an exhibition space for tourists. However, the real impact is in the way that local communities view their tulou. Today, the villagers are provided with alternative strategies to renovate their houses instead of abandoning them.
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Plugin Library

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Tower

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Tower impact

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image gallery
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plugin

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Plugin

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Plugin

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Tower

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Tower

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Tower

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Tower

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Tower

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Tower

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Tower

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technical drawings
Plugin site plan

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Tower site plan

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Plugin floor plan

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Tower floor plan

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Plugin section

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Tower section

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