Architectural Features of Stilted Buildings of the Tujia People: A Case Study of Ancient Buildings in the Peng Family Village in Western Hubei Province, China


This paper describes and analyzes the stilted buildings of the Tujia people (an ethnic group living in mainland China), a distinctive building style unique to them, from the perspectives of site selection, spatial layout, construction techniques, and cultural inheritance. The cluster of stilted buildings (Diaojiao Lou in Mandarin Pinyin) in the Pengjia Village (meaning most of the villagers share the surname of Peng) is presented as a case study in this paper. The paper makes a case for their preservation as authentic carriers of the Tujia people’s cultural history, which is quickly disappearing due to development pressures. Three preservation strategies are discussed to meet this preservation goal. The first is to provide a detail analysis of the construction language to guarantee authenticity in the documentation, preservation and restoration processes of the stilted buildings. The second is to keep alive the expert knowledge and skill of traditional artisans by involving them in the construction of new structures using diaojiaolou techniques. The third strategy is to encourage local people to “dress-up” discordant buildings constructed mid to late 20th century with well-mannered facades using traditional details such as suspension columns, shuaqi, and six-panel and bang doors. Taking as a whole, these strategies are presented to help local residents, preservation experts, developers and policy makers sustain the irreplaceable cultural heritage and economic independence of the Tujia people.

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Zhao, K. , Tilson, W. and Zhu, D. (2013) Architectural Features of Stilted Buildings of the Tujia People: A Case Study of Ancient Buildings in the Peng Family Village in Western Hubei Province, China. Journal of Building Construction and Planning Research, 1, 131-140. doi: 10.4236/jbcpr.2013.14014.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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