A taste of Hainan life at three local style dwellings
Hainan, a popular coastal destination for its nature and culture, also has a variety of ancient architectural artifacts from different dynasties. These buildings’ features, building techniques, and architectural styles are rarely seen in China.
Exotic fusion architecture: Arcade Houses
The Arcade Houses (the locals called Qilou) taken together are an artifact of cultural heritage with unique Hainanese characteristics.
The Arcade Houses are not only a unique architectural phenomenon, but are also a symbol of Haikou’s business civilization and its assimilation of different cultures.
During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, a large proportion of Hainanese ventured off to Nanyang — the term for Southeast Asian countries and regions such as Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia－to make a living. Many of them who returned to Hainan were influenced by the arcade architectural form. The style was widely used throughout Southeast Asia and melds several European architectural designs.
Haikou boasts some of the best examples of Arcade Houses architecture. The houses appear both exotic and Chinese, with vivid paintings and auspicious types of flowers engraved into the frontage of the buildings. The ground floors of these buildings house the business premises; the upper floors serve as the owners’ living quarters.
In Haikou, there are about 600 Qilou buildings concentrated on 12 streets that stretch for 1.2 square kilometers. Built by Chinese returnees after the Qing Dynasty (1644 to 1911), it is the largest cluster of preserved Qilou buildings in China. In 2010, the 12 streets underwent renovations. Now the Qilou Street in Haikou is a popular visitor attraction.
Recommended places to see the Arcade Houses: Haikou Qilou Street (海口骑楼老街)
Traditional Chinese courtyard houses: Hainan’s typical courtyard houses
These folk residences are Hainan’s typical courtyard houses. The courtyard house is mainly built with wood covered by red bricks and gray tiles. The inner buildings boast fine architectural techniques and feature ancient Chinese characters and western art symbols.
The courtyard dwellings are warm in winter and cool in summer; they are also rain and fireproof.
Recommended places to see the courtyard houses: Shibahang Village in Wenchang (文昌十八行古村)
Traditional Li people’s architecture: Boat-shaped houses
The boat-shaped house is the traditional residence of Hainan’s Li people. The buildings feature typical ethnic and local characteristics.
With fences woven with coconut, bamboo and mango leaves, and thatched roofs made of coconut and sunflower leaves, the crude materials needed for the boat-shaped houses were readily available. This technique of residential architecture was listed as a national intangible cultural heritage item in 2008.
The houses provide shelter from the rain and wind, and protect its inhabitants from wild animals. The structure and shape of the houses can withstand the powerful sun, typhoons and storms.
Recommended places to see the Arcade Houses: Binglanggu Valley in Baoting (保亭槟榔谷)
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SOURCE: WOS Team