Hakka Heritage



Dear Friends and Colleagues:

Our 5th trip to China since 2007 had it last meeting on Nov. 3 at the National Department of Housing in Beijing, in which our team presented:
1) History Channel's newly released video on Hakka Tulous featuring the work of ASH-Inc.
2) our proposed Hakka BioSphere, Trail & RecoFit Proposal (1)
to officials from China's (departments of) National Museum, Housing and Culture.

ASH-Inc. was hired by History Channel to advocate ASH's research, ideas, work and expertise on Hakka Tulous, summarized in the above proposal to show how China's "History is made for Tomorrow", in other words, how to build on and transform, historical buildings from a sustainable past into modern heritage buildings for a sustainable future, to benefit local people, Chinese nationals, international visitors, and future generations. Our role as consultants was to help organize events, select buildings, harness our resources, mobilize our contacts, set up filming opportunities, demonstrate rammed earth construction, identify people for interviews, and provide expert evidence on Hakka architecture (tulous in this case), green buildings and sustainable communities, to make this video on China's 36th UNESCO World Heritage Site consisting of 46 buildings (2, 3, 4). ASH is uniquely qualified in the world to offer this service.

The History Channel video is in both English and Chinese with appropriate subtitles and will be shown world wide shortly. It will be offered for sale.

The China team consists of Jorg Ostrowski, Helen Villaraza Ostrowski, Minoru Ueda, Yan-Li Xiaoyan, Zhang Limeibao and Zhou Hong.

The ASH proposal addresses the following 6 problems or needs simultaneously, challenges that China faces today, with integrated and holistic solutions for a sustainable future, as contained in our PPT presentation. These major problems include the:
1) breakup of the traditional family clan
2) abandoning of traditional homes by urban migration
3) imbalance between urban and rural income and wealth
4) historical preservation of abandoned villages
5) serious and devastating air, land & water pollution (throughout China see note below)
6) poverty & lack of work in the country  
Solution: conservation of energy, harnessing renewable and alternative energy such as mini-hydro (new and retrofit), solar, biofuel and wind; economic diversification through local grass roots micro industries based on national capitalism; job creation opportunities based on local tradition, culture, skills, historical precedent and local availabilities; RecoFit of Hakka village architecture with modern, convenient, and leading-edge technology; and permaculture and integrated alnd management practices.

A total of about 100 buildings have now been visited and added to an inventory of Hakka buildings that Minoru and I have been working on since 2007. Hakka heritage architecture includes both Tulous (1-4) and Weilong (5), many of which appear in our inventory.

The 2 million year old, 50-80 m deep, 640,000 km² Loess Plateau of China's norther provinces of Gansu, Ningxia, Inner Mongolia, Henan, Shaanxi and Shanxi (6-10) consisting of soft and consolidated earth in the form of silt ("a mantle of fine-grained, wind-deposited, yellowish alluvium... ", 10), has provided free, local, on-site, eco-friendly building material throughout history, from for its first city states (i.e. Chengtoushan, 11) right through to modern times (i.e. passive solar rammed earth greenhouses to feed China's population, see report). Most of China has been built with rammed earth construction, starting about 5,000 years ago (seen at Dadiwan, Wuying Village, Qin'an County, Gansu province, 12), including such major historical icons as:
1) the Great Wall in many sections (i.e. Xinjiang, Ningxia and Beijing)
2) the Forbidden City
3) city walls including Beijing and Xi'an
4) the Mausoleums and Necropolii of various Emperors (i.e. Qin Shi Huang (秦始皇, 259 BC – 210 BC, 13)
5) most common villages throughout China
6) complete cities such as Gaochang (14) and Jiaohe (15) (Xinjiang province)

Rammed earth construction is very sustainable, compared to concrete, with much lower embodied energy and CO2 emissions. ASH has professional experience designing and building with rammed earth construction.

At the same time, West Virginia University hired Jorg Ostrowski of ASH as consultants for their expertise specifically in the architecture of Hakka Tulous, and experience in green buildings and sustainable development, to assist with the selection of buildings and to review the proposed work to be done under a US National Science Foundation grant to undertake structural analysis of the rammed earth walls of Hakka Tulous.

Note: 70% of all power produced in China is from coal (16).

There was general support for this proposal with an interest to partner on this project. Further work will be undertaken to consolidate details and partnerships as time and resources allow.

This green initiative is meant to be a national demonstration project on sustainable communities, pollution solutions, historical preservation, job creation, RecoFitting, renewable energy and bioregional permaculture. History Channel and the Hakka Research Institute of Jiaying University in Meizhou (17) are partners. It is hoped that the national governments of China, the provincial governments of Guangdong, Fujian and Jiangxi, together with UNESCO and industry, will be future partners to plan a Hakka BioSphere and Trail and to design 1 or 2 major Hakka Village RecoFits as solutions to the above challenges.

1) http://www.HakkaHeritage.com
2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_World_Heritage_Sites_in_China
3) http://www.unescoworldheritagesites.com/fujian-tulou_china.htm
4) http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1113/
5) http://kinkonkid.blogspot.com/2008_03_01_archive.html
6) http://www.sciencemag.org/feature/misc/webfeat/soilmap/soil_chinaer.html
7) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loess_Plateau
8) http://janegoodallhopeforanimals.com/exclusive-content/section-5-healing-earth’s-scars/miracles-happen/loess-plateau-china/
9) http://sites.asiasociety.org/chinagreen/lessons-of-loess-plateau/
10) http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/346036/Loess-Plateau
11) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chengtoushan, and China Pavilion, World's Fair/Expo 2010, Shanghai
12) http://www.china.org.cn/english/culture/48220.htm
13) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_World_Heritage_Sites_in_China
14) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaochang
15) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiaohe_Ruins
16) http://www.eia.doe.gov/cabs/China/Background.html
17) http://www.davidson.edu/academic/anthropology/erlozada/papers/jiada/jdhakeng4.htm