- Education and Science
Amazing Houses of the World
Amazing Houses of the World
There are many amazing houses around the world. Some are underground, some are up in the air and some are on the water. Others are fortresses and still others are tents. Come with me and prepare to be astounded as we take a tour and learn about some of these unusual and fascinating homes around the world.
Photo of these reed houses on a floating island courtesy of geoced on Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0).
The Most Amazing Home
Where would you like to live?
Amazing Houses of Asia
Mongolia and Kazakhstan - Yurt / Ger
© Copyright stealthtractor (CC BY-ND 2.0).
Yurts (or gers) are the circular, folding, portable homes of sheep or horse herders in the steppes of Central Asia. They have wooden frames and are covered by white wool felt. In the picture above, you can see the chimney sticking out of the roof. Horse manure is used to fuel the stove attached to this chimney. The beds line the walls inside.
See photos of a ger being constructed.
Make your own model yurt from dowel, balsa wood, an embroidery hoop and felt.
Fujian Province, China - Tulou
© Copyright kudumomo (CC BY 2.0)
In the mountains in the Fujian province in Southern China there are tulous, large round (or rectangular) buildings surrounded by thick rammed dirt walls (up to 6 feet thick), housing about 300 people. Some of these tulous are very old, being built as early as the 12th century. There is usually only one main gate with a thick wooden door. The tulou is between three and five stories high and has four communal staircases. In the center of the tulou there may be a hall for ancestor worship, storehouses, wells, animal pens and living areas. The top level of the tulou has gun holes for defending these fortresses.
Read a much more detailed description of the tulous including photos.
Papua, Irian Jaya - Treehouse
© Copyright 710928003 (CC BY 2.0)
The Korowai and Kombai tree people live in the basin of the Brazza River in the lowland jungles of Papua, Irian Jaya. They build their houses up in the trees, normally 20-80 feet (6-25m), but sometimes up to 130 feet (40 m) above ground, to try to avoid floods, mosquitoes and for protection from other clans who may try to capture people for slavery or even cannibalism. A family of up to 8 people will live in this treehouse. And there's no lift or staircase to get up, just a wooden ladder or a log with notches cut out of it.
Find out more about these tree people and their homes with this series of photos.
Indonesia - Floating Bugis Houses
© Copyright zhaffsky (CC BY-SA 2.0)
There is a fishermen's floating village on Lake Tempe, a shallow lake in Sengkang, Indonesia. Animals and boats are kept under the homes. The fish that are caught are dried for three to four days on the rafts attached to the houses.
Not only do these fishermen have floating homes, they also have floating gardens to help them catch fish.
Indonesia, Sumba - Tall-roofed Houses of Ratenggaro Village
© Copyright monica.renata (CC BY 2.0)
These amazing houses with tall roofs have four thick pillars in their center but the rest is made from bamboo and grass. Animals such as water buffalo and pigs live in the fenced area under each dwelling. The tall pointed part of the roof is empty and it where the gods are believed to live. The people live between the two levels.
Japan's Alpine Valleys - Grasshozukuri
© Copyright Yosemite (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Gassho-zukuri means clasped-hands style. These buildings have high peaked roofs, made from grass or straw thatch, to allow the snow and rain to easily slide straight off. This prevents water soaking through the roof into the rooms inside and will also stop the roofing materials rotting too quickly. Inside, there is often an open fireplace, a square pit in the floor, called an irori. It is used for heating, cooking and even for lighting the room. There is no chimney so the smoke just rises into the high roof space so the people don't have to breathe it in. Sometimes there is a small vent hole for letting the smoke escape.
Read more about these fascinating buildings with steep thatched roofs and see dozens of people re-thatching one of these roofs.
Make a printable model grasshozukuri.
Amazing Houses of Africa
Matmata, Tunisia - Living Underground - troglodyte house
© Copyright The Cisco Kid (CC BY 2.0)
Some of the people in Matmata, a small town in southern Tunisia, live in caves. A large pit was dug in the ground and holes for rooms were dug off to the sides of this courtyard and plastered white. Sometimes these cave-rooms are connected with passageways. The temperatures in Matmata can be very high in Summer and very cold in Winter, but in the rooms of this underground dwelling, the temperature is always about 70°F - 80°F (21°C - 27°C).
Togo and Benin - Somba / Taberma house - Earthen Fortresses
© Copyright Erik Cleves Kristensen (CC BY 2.0)
The Somba or Taberma people of Benin and Togo are famous for making two story fortified huts made from mud. The outside of these earthen castles is painted red with paint made from karite tree nuts. See the little circular door on the right hand side, with the branch as a ramp? That's for ducks to walk up to get inside. Farm animals are kept on the bottom floor and people sleep upstairs. Cooking and other tasks, such as grinding millet into flour, are also done on the bottom floor. The rooftop is used for drying beans, grain and chili peppers. Outside each home is an altar for each person living there.
Amazing Houses of South America
Peru - Reed Huts on Uros Island on Lake Titicaca
© Copyright Cmunozjugo (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Uros Islands are several man-made islands, made from bundles of dried tortora reeds on which a few hundred Uros people live .The islands were originally constructed for defensive purposes. Because they were floating islands, they could be moved if there was any kind of threat. The islands constantly need topping up and repairing with new reeds. The surface of each island is spongy because the reeds underneath rot quickly, and if you're not careful where you walk, your leg could sink right through into the icy lake water. The walls and roofs of their huts are made from the same reeds with wooden stakes supporting the raised bases. As you can see in the picture above, some homes even have solar panels to run appliances like televisions. To prevent burning the reed islands, cooking fires are built up on a layer of stones.
Amazon Rainforest - Yanomamo Shabono
Public domain photo courtesy of Zeljko on Wikipedia
The Yanomamo (or Yanomami or Yanomama) people live in villages in the rainforest on the border between Brazil and Venezuela. The village, which is usually an extended family of up to 400 people, lives in a huge dwelling called a shabono or yanos. It is ring-shaped with a shelter around the outside for housing individual families and an open area in the center, measuring an average of 300 feet (91m) in length, for group celebrations. These shabanos are built from tree trunks, leaves and vines and consequently get damaged easily by wind, rain and insects. Every 1 or 2 years they need to be rebuilt.
Amazing Houses of Europe
Iceland - Turf Houses
Public domain photo courtesy of TommyBee on Wikipedia
In Iceland where timber is in short supply because it is such a harsh environment, people often used turf (grass) on their roofs. Turf is a great insulator against the cold and it also is effective at keeping out the drafts. Over about 20 to 70 years the turf would deteriorate and have to be replaced. Nobody lives in these turf houses any more.
You can also find these sod roof dwellings in Norway (pictures). Do you think that the first photo with trees growing on the roof is genuine?
Amazing Houses of Australia
Coober Pedy, Australia - Dugouts, Underground Houses
© Copyright whale05 (CC BY 2.0)
During Summer in the desert town of Coober Pedy in South Australia, temperatures can reach extremes. To avoid the heat, people started living in dugouts - holes in the ground. Originally these dugouts were dug into the sandstone by hand with picks and shovels, usually into the side of a hill. Today, tunneling machines are used. The rooms in these underground dwellings are ventilated with small pipes which you can see sticking out of the ground.
For more information, visit Outback Australia Travel Secrets.
More Info About Amazing Houses of the World
This 48 page book has great photos and also cut-away diagrams of each building so you can see clearly how the people live in these homes. Great book! In fact it was this book which inspired me to do the research for this page.