Category Archives: Traditional Dwellings

local traditional house architecture

China – Ancient City of Ping Yao

Ping Yao is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a traditional Han Chinese city, founded in the 14th century. Its urban fabric shows the evolution of architectural styles and town planning in Imperial China over five centuries. Of special interest are the imposing buildings associated with banking, for which Ping Yao was the major centre for the whole of China in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Ping Yao region has been settled by humankind since Neolithic times. There has been an urban settlement on the site of the nominated property since at least the Western Zhou Dynasty, since it was fortified with earthen ramparts during the reign of King Xuan (827-782 BC). With the implementation of the system of prefectures and counties in 221 BC, Ping Yao became the seat of a county administration, and continues to play that role.

In 1370, during the reign of the Ming Emperor Hong Wu, the city was greatly extended. It was fortified with a massive new defensive wall in masonry and brick and the internal layout was greatly altered, reflecting the strict rules of planning of the Han peoples.

Since that time it has evolved steadily as a Han city during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. It emerged as one of the leading commercial cities in northern China during the 16th century, and retained that status well into the present age. In the second half of the 19th century the banking community of Ping Yao dominated Chinese financial life.

(whc.unesco.org)

 

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Japan – UNESCO – Shirakawa Village

Shirakawa Village is located in the northwestern part of Gifu Pref. and is next to Gokayama Village in Toyama pref., and west of the village are the Hakusan Mountains which border Ishikawa Pref. and Gifu Pref.. It is a typical mountain village that is surrounded by mountains. Mountains and forests account for 96% of the area and the remaining 0.4% is cultivated land.

Gassho-zukuri Village in Shirakawa-go and Gokayama, were listed as sites of The World Heritage at the 19th UNESCO board held in Berlin, Germany on December, 1995, under Japan’s requests.

Gassho-zukuri is a house built of wooden beams combined to form a steep thatched roof that resembles two hands together.
You can see houses such as these in other parts of the country. In Shirakawa, they are called “Kiritsuma-Gassho-zukuri,” and the roof can be looked triangular just like a standing book open.
It is the characteristic of these houses in this country.
The structure is built to suit the environment in Shirakawa. It is made to with stand heavy snowfall.
The house face north and south, to minimize wind resistance.
They are also built for be comfort in both summer and winter. The houses stand in a certain direction to adjust the amount of sun in order to keep the room cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

(www.shirakawa-go.org)

 

China – Ancient Villages in Southern Anhui

The two traditional villages of Xidi and Hongcun preserve to a remarkable extent the appearance of non-urban settlements of a type that largely disappeared or was transformed during the last century. Their street plan, their architecture and decoration, and the integration of houses with comprehensive water systems are unique surviving examples.

– Xidi

Xidi was originally called Xichuan (West River), because of the streams that pass through it, but its present name, which means “West Post,” comes from the ancient caravan posting station some 1.5km to the west of the village.

It owes its growth to the Hu family from Wuyuan (Xinan), who adopted a son of the Tang Emperor Zhaozong (888- 904) after the Emperor was forced from his throne in 904, naming him Hu Changyi. One of his descendants, Hu Shiliang, moved his family from Wuyuan to Xidi in 1047. From that time onwards the family lived and prospered at Xidi.

The population began to rise sharply from 1465, when the Hu family began to act as merchants. The construction of a number of important private and public buildings, and in particular the Huiyuan and Gulai bridges, began at around that time. From the mid 17th century until around 1850 the Hu family was influential in both commerce and politics. During the Ming and Qing Dynasties members of the family became Imperial officials, whilst many also became graduates of the Imperial College. At its peak in the 18th and 19th centuries the village had more than six hundred residences. However, with the decline of the Anhui merchant community and the disintegration of the feudal clan system during the later Qing Dynasty and the Republic, Xidi ceased to expand.

– Hongcun

Hongcun was founded in 1131 by Wang Wen, a Han Dynasty General, and his kinsman Wang Yanji, who brought their families from Qisu village to the upper part of the stream near Leigang mountain and built 13 houses there. The village knew two periods of great prosperity, 1401- 1620 and 1796-1908. Like the Hu family in Xidi, the Wang family became officials and merchants and accumulated enormous wealth, which they used to endow their home village with many fine buildings. Around 1405, on the advice of geomancers, a channel was dug to bring fresh water to the village from the West Stream. Two hundred years later the water supply system of the village was completed with the creation of the South Lake. The 19th and early 20th centuries saw the construction of a number of imposing public buildings, such as the South Lake Academy (1814), the Hall of Meritorious Deeds (1888), the Hall of Virtuousness (1890), and the Hall of Aspiration (1855, rebuilt 1911).

Somewhat later than Xidi, Hongcun fell into a decline with the birth of the Republic, but it still retains many of its fine buildings and its exceptional water system.

(whc.unesco.org)