The Blockhouses in Kaiping

These blockhouses are located in Kaiping, south of Guangzhou in southeast China. They were first built in early years of the Qing Dynasty ( 1644-1911 ). The construction of such houses came to its climax in the 1920s and 1930s. Then many people from the southeast coastal areas left their hometown for other countries to make a living. They came back to their hometown built such blockhouses in a unique Chinese-Western style with the money earned abroad. Such houses occupy a small area and can have many stories. They are solid to resist against flood and good to guard against theft. Such houses were fashionable then. Some overseas Chinese came back from Canada and built a village called the “Canadian Village.” They are a typical example for making foreign things serve China.

These blockhouses fall into stone, hammed earthen or brick ones according to the building materials used. A few used reinforced concrete, the most advanced then. They were built in the classical Greek, Roman, Gothic and Islamic architectural styles. In Kaiping there are than 1,833 intact blockhouses and are exotic flowers in the Chinese and Western achitecture and become a wonder of the Chinese residential architecture.

Cave dwellings are in Yan’an area in north west China. Such dwellings were built by the Chinese ancestors on the Loess Plateau and have a history of 4,000 or 5,000 years. Until today, there are 30-40 million Chinese people living in such cave dwellings. In general, cave dwellings were built on the sunny slope and are well-proportioned. Looked in distance, they are magnificent. Each cave dwelling is six meters deep, four meters wide and falls into two categories: brick and earthen. They always have a semi-circular stone door and windows are decorated uniquely. Some cave dwellings are built in flat land with rocks and then covered with clay, a combination of stone and earthen cave dwelling styles. Cave dwellings do not bring any damage to terrain and cultivated land and they are cheaper and cold in summer and warm in winter. The temperature inside is 13 degrees higher than outside in winter and 10 degrees lower in summer. But such cave dwellings have their shortcomings too. They do not have enough natural lighting inside and even wet in summer. Also they are bad ventilated.