Tulou affordable housing project in China / Urbanus

The Tulou affordable housing project by Urbanus was the subject of the 5th Solos Exhibition at New York’s Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum.

This 245 apartment structure is currently being built in Guangzhou, . Besides the normal residential programming, the building also has a dormitory, hotel, retail space, gym, library, and a variety of communal and public spaces.

Seen at designboom. More images after the break.

Cite: Jordana, Sebastian. "Tulou affordable housing project in China / Urbanus" 10 Apr 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 24 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=19343>
  • HowardG

    Hmmm… just add water – instant ghetto.
    Or, block the exits – instant gulag?

    How profoundly oppressive!
    But they’re good at that…

  • telve

    just like ‘urban mushrooms’
    DO NOT EAT! – they’re poisonous…

  • Mr. Cheap

    Read the damn text. It’s not only housing you idiot. Never before have people been oppressed by a library…

  • peter

    Interesting, that this scheme does not come across as mixed use. It looks like a monofunctional program, which is arranged in a formal manner. It ignores the potentials which lie in mix use and unfortunately does not offer anything else than a circle, which curles into a square… Shame that such thing is even subject of an exhibition…

  • http://www.talkitect.com Lucas Gray

    It seems like not much light will penetrate deep into those small courtyards. If the center was a large park or vegetable garden it might be better. It does reference the large rammed earth Hakka buildings in the south of china though. I appreciate referencing the culture’s architectural history.

  • kc

    If only they lowered the outer ‘circle’ to make it about 3 stories and usable roof; no more, otherwise it’s like some prison. They have libraries too! The project does not take into account the site at all, and generally circles are pretty oppressive in my opinion. Just build regular mid-size blocks with lots of green space in between and people will make the use of it the way they want. Last thing that you want living with little income is have darkness in your room. Oppressive project the way it is right now.

  • os van kerck

    HowardG Go home…

    • HowardG

      os do you have mature, intelligent comment?

  • kc

    The way they render it, as if there is some decent light, in reality will not be this way at all. At least break it apart or something, extend some parts..

  • Fino

    Inhumane and a prime example of the ghettoization of a class of people. I thought we were pass this by now?

    that is all.

  • Axel
  • archdork

    you gotta be kidding me. I thought you are living in 21 century!? Don’t people now have enough sense of what fundamental and social rights are?! Let them live like a human being!!

  • HowardG

    My Cheap – people HAVE been oppressed by libraries. It is a well recognised fact that the Catholic Church for centuries kept books, education and reading FROM ‘subjects’ as a means of power and thus oppression.

    Certainly the Chinese Govt has spent hundreds of millions over many years revising history and republishing books to suit their version of events. Out of ignorance of truth people are oppressed – kept down – so as to be controlled.

    Perhasp you are unfamiliar with the word: oppression – noun : 1. the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner.
    4. the feeling of being heavily burdened, mentally or physically, by troubles, adverse conditions, anxiety, etc.

    Yep burdensome = close proximity / overbearing building / height, paucity of light. That will difinitely get to you in a circular environment. You DO know of the Panopticaon / Panemoticon and modern prison design – don’t you! This page at MIT may help : http://alumni.media.mit.edu/~carsonr/phd_thesis/ch01.html#id2532402

    • As If

      calm down, no one asked you to live there. Comparing the Catholic Church’s rule and a housing unit that people CHOOSE to live in located in crowed China, bit of a stretch. If you feel so strongly for the people living in the building, why don’t you go help them break out of their “prison”?

      • HowardG

        Read my original comment… and think of the consequences of controlled oppression. Then apply those thoughts to the facts that if one had a reasonable freedom of CHOICE they would not live in such a building.

        This is controlled poverty. Just as the Renminbi / Yuan value is falsely controlled at a lower rate… as are peaceful protestors. It goes on and on…

        This building’s context is enclosed. FYI I’m not calmed up.

  • HowardG
  • Laura

    I wish they had indluded a little bit of historic background… A Tulou (“earth building”) is actually a traditional building form in the south-east of China. And although I generally agree with the criticism mentioned here, one has to keep in mind that this is China, high density is therefore mandatory.
    I still think it is not a bad idea to reinterpret your traditional housing forms – although they could have used the original material, rammed earth, which would be much more sustainable and innovative.

  • Mr. Cheap

    I don’t know enough about the project to characterize is at oppressive. To me the spatial qualities “inside” the project look like they are intimate while grand at the same time.

    What would you do if you were given a plot in a modernist-greenscape-horror site like this ? How would you respond to the site ? Maybe is it not to bad to create the circle, and then give people something totally different inside ?

    Perhaps this project gives it’s inhabitants and residents something completely different than what the site offers ? Maybe it’s the best stratergy, -to escape the surroundings ?

  • sullka

    I agree with Mr. Howard, other’s might be to young or innocent to know otherwise.

    It’s just a circular prison.

    I also agree with Laura when she mentions about the high density in China.

    however, I don’t think the solution is to construct a new “hip wowloon walled city”:


    I get a little worried when I see the “mixed use” label on projects regardless of where they’re located.

    Can someone show me a “successfull mixed-use social housing” project?

  • EdV
  • Pingback: Hakka 2009 - The diary of Jakob Knulp

  • ivy yi

    well, i generally don’t think this building is a sensitive response to the process of urbanization in China. some spaces are really inhumane. I understand the high density situation but i really do not believe turing a vernacular into something modern with new functions is working… we need a bit of more innovation from the very underlying.

  • shabib

    i ;ike it

  • Thankful

    All that have lived in this building would disagree. It’s not like they have a choice between there and a better place. This is a CHEAP housing unit made to be rented out. If your income was like that of the people currently inhabiting it, you would be thankful that such a small pay got you a place to live. China has a huge population. Unless they try to fit 6 to a room, I would sya this is quite effective.

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