The Hakka tulou represent an ancient form of Chinese architecture common in Southeast China. In 2008, several of the tulou were listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. A tulou is usually an earthen building with an enclosed circular shape serving hundreds of residents. People have inhabited such structures for centuries due, in part, to their ability to passively moderate temperature. This particular form of architecture represents an ancient wisdom: it is a sustainable design concept that has thrived for centuries. The global energy crisis has become a problem for all. The ancient concept of the Hakka tulou, which has the potential to help save energy by providing a model for sustainable architecture, may hold some valuable answers. To establish whether modern design could be improved using the principles employed by the Hakka tulou, and whether tulou design could be improved upon by formal redesign, this thesis will create a basic model of the tulou and a modernized version thereof, before using computer software to analyze and compare their respective solar, wind and daylighting performance. It will then modify the basic tulou model by adjusting its shading and ventilation features to determine the optimal design. The model will then be compared to a standard modern design to establish whether the traditional design can be improved upon.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Hakka (Chinese people)--Dwellings; Sustainable architecture; Earth houses

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Architecture (M.Arch.)

Department, Program, or Center

Architecture (GIS)


Jules J. Chiavaroli

Advisor/Committee Member

Nana-Yaw Andoh

Advisor/Committee Member

Gabrielle Gaustad


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes