Tulou Open House 2012


June 8-10, 2012
Tianzhong Village, Fujian, China

Download press release (English), and current schedule
Press contact: samantha@newterritories.org

Studio Yao Yao – Shanghai, China/Cambridge, MA
Urbanus Research Bureau/URB – Shenzhen, China
New Territories Studio – Shanghai/Beijing, China

Friends of Tulou (Qing Xing Lou), Fujian, China/Seattle, WA

高灵 Gao Ling, 何意达 He Yida, HomeShop (Pilar Escuder, 何颖雅 Elaine W. Ho, 曲一箴 Twist Qu, 王尘尘 Cici Wang, 徐轶婧 Xu Yijing, 羊立才 Yang Licai), Rusticated Youth Project (Michael Leibenluft, Christopher Adams), TRYTOBEGOOD, URB (Urbanus Research Bureau: Fu Na, Chris Gee, Anna Laura Govoni, Christina Peraino)

RESIDENCY PERIOD: May 25-June 10, 2012
LOCATION: Qingxinglou Tulou, Tianzhong Village, Fujian, China

The Tulou Open House Project is a site-specific creative experiment, collective residency, and cultural conference taking place this June at a traditional tulou (round earthen house) in rural Fujian Province. During this open-ended “expedition,” a diverse group of artists and scholars from around China will explore the tulou in a number of modes that reflect its multi-faceted structure and history. In this project, the tulou will be reconceived as a hub for research, a studio for creative practice, a context for interdisciplinary exchange, and a platform for an expansive dialogue about the nature of space, community, and change in contemporary China.

The initial residency period will see a core group of creatives and academics living in the tulou alongside the remaining local residents, where they will perform research, develop original projects, and collaborate across disciplines of architecture, design, art, theatre, film, anthropology, history, and preservation. The event will culminate in a public “Open House” event on the weekend of June 8-10, which is open to visitors and the local community alike. It will feature a program of talks, screenings, workshops, performances, guided tours, and artistic interventions. Guests are also encouraged to explore the nearby town, waterfall/nature reserve, tea fields, rice paddies, mountain villages and the other tulou in the area, including the UNESCO-designated tulou clusters which are several minutes’ driving distance away.

The Tulou Open House Project is the inaugural open-to-the-public project supported by Friends of Tulou, a not-for-profit family organization with deep ties to the local community that has “adopted” this tulou as a laboratory and model for studying sustainable tulou development. We aim to develop a long-term relationship with the community in helping to find the tulou’s new position within the urgent cultural contexts of preservation, development, and urbanization.

Because of Friends of Tulou’s long-term engagement with the tulou, we see this event as only a starting point in the future sustainable development of the tulou, which aims to preserve the tulou structure and traditions, while gradually evolving it as a space for research, education, and creativity that benefits the local community and visitors alike. The projects, conversations, and collaborations commenced during the Open House will continue, at the tulou and beyond, and perhaps symbolically extend the tulou’s circular community structure to all who have the chance to experience this very special place.

A dynamic and diverse set of artists and researchers have been in residence in the tulou, crafting projects both as groups and individuals, and this weekend will see the launch of several new works and works-in-progress, ranging from documentary-based theatre to experimental furniture to a lo-fi pop-up courtyard bar (with its own signature cocktail). Check our blog for frequent updates, and full list of projects forthcoming.

Selected list:

URB (Urbanus Research Bureau): URB Tulou Research
Includes: presentation about the preliminary outcomes of the fieldwork carried out by the team for the research of “home typology,” an investigation about contemporary collective housing and the development of community studying the tulou as one of the cases; presentation of the research “Creative Parks in Shenzhen” (by Camilla Costa); projection of the video “A Walking Tour in Urban Village, Caiwuwei, Luohu” (by Fu Na and Chris Gee); introduction about the work in progress for the video “Future Tulou, a vision of territorial system in Pearl River Delta” in the context of Movin’Up: a program founded by the General Direction for Landscape, Fine Arts, Architecture and Contemporary Arts – Ministry for Assets and Cultural Activities and GAI – Association of the Circuit of Young Italian Artists (by Anna Laura Govoni and Cristina Peraino) about the internal migration tendencies that are creating new demands and challenges within the contemporary panorama.

HomeShop and friends: 请坐 Have a Seat
Initiated by Samantha Culp, “Have a Seat” welcomes you to join slow-life in the “Village in the Middle of the Field” by simply sitting down——where having a seat becomes an entry-point to life and culture within the tulou. The results of a week-long exploration in Tianzhong will span furniture and product propositions to be used throughout the weekend and remain in the tulou after, a mud workshop, installations, a pop-up “bar”, and talks.

TRYTOBEGOOD: Tulou Open House Logo System
Beijing/New York designer TRYTOBEGOOD “brands” the tulou experience for both residents and visitors through attempts to clone the logo by using a mixture of local and nonlocal components. This project is an endeavor in stretching the use of unfamiliar materials to achieve an unexpected, and often surprisingly ephemeral result.

Rusticated Youth Project: Live performance on Saturday evening
Turning the tulou courtyard into theatre-in-the-round, the Rusticated Youth Project aims to use the “down to the countryside” 上山下乡 movement of the Cultural Revolution as a lens to examine the complex interplay between rural and urban life in China. The Rusticated Youth Project will integrate various forms of media – film, music, photography, and live performance – to document this history and parse the individual and political imaginings of rural life both past and present.

The condition of this tulou is in many ways representative of hundreds of others in the area: prior to the recent renovations in 2010, the building was nearly deserted and on the verge of delapidation, as most of the inhabitants have migrated to the city or moved to the nearby modern developments in the area. At the same time, the recent UNESCO designation of the nearby tulou clusters has rapidly increased public interest in, and traffic to, the region, which brings with it new challenges and concerns about fast-paced development.

With support from Friends of Tulou and building upon research developed over the past year by international scholars, a team of four collaborators (Anna Laura Govoni + Fu Na, URB; Samantha Culp, New Territories Studio; and Dana Wu, Studio Yao Yao) grounded in the fields of art, architecture, and urbanism have initiated the Open House Project.

The tulou in question is a historic round earthen building built in the traditional Hakka technique in rural Tianzhong Village, Shuyang Town, Nanjing County, Fujian Province, China. The tulou was under construction for over 8 years until progress was halted 1961 for the Great Leap Forward; as a result, it now stands and 3.5 stories instead of the intended 4. At its peak, it housed about 30 families. The site is approximately 100km or a 2.5-hour drive from Xiamen and a short drive from the UNESCO-designated tulou clusters of Nanjing County.


高灵 Gao Ling
何意达 He Yida
HomeShop (Pilar Escuder, 何颖雅 Elaine W. Ho, 曲一箴 Twist Qu, 王尘尘 Cici Wang, 徐轶婧 Xu Yijing, 羊立才 Yang Licai)
Rusticated Youth Project (Michael Leibenluft, Chris Adams & Collaborators)
URB (Urbanus Research Bureau: Fu Na, Chris Gee, Anna Laura Govoni, Christina Peraino)

Friends of Tulou is a not-for-profit (501c) family organization with deep ties to the local community that has “adopted” this tulou as a laboratory and model for studying sustainable tulou development.


Urbanus Research Bureau (URB) was established in 2010, within the existing comprehensive design practice of Urbanus. The fundamental idea of URB is to retrospect the existing experience and knowledge of Urbanus, thus intentionally develop novel design methodology based on research. This idea follows the original practice philosophy of Urbanus, as an architectural designer with specific and consistent approach from the perspective of urbanism. URB is not only a specific research-driven design team, it is also the frontier of Urbanus to explore new architectural practice model in the context of the 21st Century urban China.

New Territories Studio, based between Beijing and Shanghai, is an experimental studio for the research, development and production of innovative cultural projects. Spanning the fields of film, art, publishing and design, New Territories serves as a laboratory for new ideas, a curatorial platform for programming and exhibitions, a consultancy for forward-thinking brands and institutions, and a production base for the creation of films, installations, editions and events.

Dana Wu is an architect/student currently based in Shanghai, originally from Seattle, with family roots in Fujian. She graduated with a BA in Architecture from Yale University in 2010 and has spent the past two years working at Neri&Hu Design and Research Office in Shanghai. She is initiator and co-host of the Tulou Open House Project, an ongoing exploration of creative opportunities to sustain the Fujian tulou (communal rammed-earth housing building) typology. The Project is based at the tulou in Shuyang, Fujian, China where her father was sent for “re-education’ (上山下乡) during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960’s and 70’s. The Tulou Open House is also the debut project of Studio Yao Yao, Dana’s platform for transdisciplinary collaborations grounded in architectural practice and research. Dana will be returning to the states to pursue an M. Arch I degree at the Harvard GSD this fall, and in addition to Cambridge plans to maintain a three-pronged home base in Seattle/Shanghai/Shuyang.

EMAIL / 邮箱: samantha@newterritories.org OR tulouopenhouse2012@gmail.com
BLOG / 博客: http://tulouopenhouse.tumblr.com

For those unable to attend the event in person, we will be extensively documenting our research and activities throughout the week and beyond – please see our blog and other social media channels below.

BLOG / 博客: http://tulouopenhouse.tumblr.com
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