Chinese round houses
update Dec. 2010. I found a travel article about these complexes on a Chinese news website. There are more pictures and more information. Great info,
When I first read about tulou (literally, earthen buildings) I was surprised that I hadn't heard of them before. Giant structures that rise from the picturesque Fujian countryside, the "roundhouses of Fujian" are more like circular fortresses than houses.
Between three and five stories high and up to 70 meters in diameter, their pale, earthen color and slightly cracked veneer give a timeless and organic look.
Tulou in Fujian were built by the Hakka ethnic group from the 12th century until the 1960s. After migrating from northern China, the Hakka settled in a number of areas, but Yongding county in southwest Fujian is where they really left their mark.
Facing constant threats from marauding bandits and wild animals, the Hakka decided to build fort-like structures large enough to house entire villages. The result is a collection of structures that not only protected the Hakka from the outside, but today provide a wonderful glimpse into their old ways.
Tulou have thick, earthen walls made from a mixture of rammed earth, glutinous rice and bamboo strips. Each level has between 20 and 70 rooms facing inward to the circular courtyard, usually with an ancestral hall in the middle.