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Documenting Heritage at Risk: Vernacular Farm Houses in the Eastern Tibetan Cultural Region

Abstract

Tibetan architecture is largely associated with the impressive monastic buildings scattered over the Tibetan Plateau and the adjoining mountain ranges. While these buildings have long attracted the interest from travellers and researches, the rural vernacular architecture has been grossly neglected. Accounting for more than 90 percent of the cultural heritage vernacular farmhouses incorporate an immeasurable wealth of traditional knowledge and local craftsmanship that is increasingly threatened by the impacts of modernisation. The article draws on a research project on vernacular architecture in the Tibetan cultural region and presents four examples of rural houses in former Kham, that is nowadays spread across Sichuan, Qinghai, Yunnan provinces and the Xizang (Tibet) Autonomous Region. The examples show a surprising diversity in terms of style, size, layout, building materials and structural systems that are perfectly adapted to local climatic and topographic conditions as well as the resources available in a particular environment. As examples for this diversity the article presents a rammed earth building in Chatreng, a house in stone masonry from Dabpa, a house in Pome built with timber log walls, and a house from Gyalrong with a mixed stone/timber construction. The richness of vernacular farmhouse architecture in Kham deserves special recognition and support on various levels.

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Correspondence to Peter Herrle.

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Herrle, P., Wozniak, A. Documenting Heritage at Risk: Vernacular Farm Houses in the Eastern Tibetan Cultural Region. Built Heritage 2, 85–107 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1186/BF03545712

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Keywords

  • Tibetan culture
  • vernacular architecture
  • farmhouse
  • diversity
  • cultural heritage
  • preservation
  • Kham