Sustainability / What Does Tulou Mean

Tulou Studio was founded with the intent of developing and promoting a new and holistic approach to sustainable design, which focuses not only on the quantifiable aspects of green design, but also on the qualitative aspects of unique aesthetics and social responsibility. Appropriately, the company takes its name from the ancient Chinese “tulou” building type.

A “tulou” is a large, enclosed and fortified earth building, rectangular or circular in configuration, with very thick load-bearing rammed earth walls between three and five stories high and housing up to 80 families. Smaller interior buildings are often enclosed by these huge peripheral walls which can contain halls, storehouses, wells and living areas, the whole structure resembling a small fortified city. The fortified outer structures are formed by compacting earth, mixed with stone, bamboo, wood and other readily-available materials, to form walls up to six feet (2 meters) thick. Branches, strips of wood and bamboo chips are often laid in the wall as additional reinforcement. The end result is a well lit, well-ventilated, windproof and earthquake-proof building that is warm in winter and cool in summer.

A paragon example of sustainable, regionally specific, and socially sensitive design in 12th century ancient China; the “tulou” represents the successful implementation of the multi-faceted design approach we hope to achieve today.

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