Hakka Tulou is a dwelling type unique to the Hakka people. It is a communal residence between the city and the countryside, integrating living, storage, shopping, spiritual, and public entertainment into one single building entity.
Traditional units in tulou are evenly laid out along its perimeter, like modern slab-style dormitory buildings, but with greater opportunities for social interaction. Although this type is very much suitable for low-income housing, simply copying the form and style of the tulou would not be a good solution for the design of low-income housing. However, by learning from the tulou, one can help preserve community spirit among low-income families.
By introducing a “new tulou” to modern cities and by careful experimentation of form and economy, one can transcend conventional urban design. Our experiments explored ways to stitch the tulou within the existing urban fabric of the city, green areas, overpasses, expressways, and residual land left over by urbanization. The cost of residual sites is quite low due to incentives by the government, and this is an important factor in developing low-income housing. The close proximity of each tulou building helps insulate the users from the chaos and noise of the outside environment, while creating an intimate and comfortable environment inside.
Integrating the living culture of traditional Hakka tulou buildings with low-income housing is not only an academic issue, there is an important social issue too. The living condition of the poor is now gaining more public attention.
How can one effectively adapt the tulou into the modern city? Research was characterized by comprehensive analyses and continuity from the theoretical to the practical. The study has examined size, space patterns, and functions of tulou buildings. Architects also tried to inject new urban elements with the traditional style, and balance the tension between these two paradigms.