A Living Heritage: The Earthen Homes of Yongding County
The Hakka communal homes-cum-fortresses have lured foreign architects and anthropologists for the last 20 years and, more recently, a trickle of tourists seeking obscure corners of China and overseas Hakka seeking their roots. Noting this interest, China, more often known for demolishing historic structures than protecting them, has begun restoring the earthen houses and last year nominated them for World Heritage Site status. Unesco will consider the nomination this summer.
In the meantime, many Hakka residents are upgrading to modern housing and to jobs in the cities. They are less interested in the cultural value of their dwellings, which adds to the sense of urgency among those wishing to preserve, or see, remnants of China’s past.