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Amazing Houses of the World

Updated on January 2, 2015

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).

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Amazing Houses of Asia

Mongolia and Kazakhstan - Yurt / Ger

Amazing Yurt / Ger
Amazing 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

Chinese tulou
Chinese 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.

See cross section and floor plan diagrams of a tulou.



Papua, Irian Jaya - Treehouse

Papua treehouse
Papua 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

Indonesia flaoting fishermen village
Indonesia flaoting fishermen village

© 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

tall-roofed houses of Indonesia
tall-roofed houses of Indonesia

© 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

Japan's Alpine Valleys - Grasshozukuri
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

Matmata underground house
Matmata underground 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

African taberma house
African taberma house

© 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.

Taberma house coloring page



Amazing Houses of South America

Peru - Reed Huts on Uros Island on Lake Titicaca

Peru - Reed houses on Uros Island
Peru - Reed houses on Uros Island

© 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

Amazon Rainforest Yanomami Shabano / Yanos
Amazon Rainforest Yanomami Shabano / Yanos

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

Icelandic turf house
Icelandic turf house

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.

More information on Icelandic turf houses

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

Coober Pedy underground house / dugout
Coober Pedy underground house / dugout

© 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.

Which is the most amazing house? Choose from those shown here, or tell me of another incredible house somewhere in the world.

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    • aneeshasdad profile image

      aneeshasdad 4 years ago

      Great stuff - makes me want to hit the road again!

    • suepogson profile image

      suepogson 4 years ago

      Why don't people live in turf houses any more? They seem such a great idea in every way. Fascinating lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Cozy huts!

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 4 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      What an interesting variety of amazing houses from around the world.

    • worldwidesouven profile image

      worldwidesouven 4 years ago

      I saw only uros's houses at Titikaka lake. But I don't like to live there because of high humidity.,

      It's a very interesting lens, thanks!

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      Fantastic - love the floating houses.

    • CraftyandClever profile image

      CraftyandClever 4 years ago from everywhere but mostly Cali

      I would love to live in a circular house with a courtyard in the middle like I saw in Japan. The simpler the house to me the more amazing and beautiful it is.

    • Lucky Robby profile image

      Lucky Robby 4 years ago

      Japan, the sand houses in the desert and the dugouts in Australia! Loved this lens, enjoyed it very much.

    • profile image

      webscan 4 years ago

      That troglodyte thing scares me, I wonder how they get their air supply! Nevertheless, this is another interesting lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @beaworkathomemom: ya!!

    • profile image

      khatha0808 4 years ago

      Really interesting lens. I really enjoy reading your lens. Thumbs up

    • siobhanryan profile image

      siobhanryan 4 years ago

      Have to go with Tunisia Angel Blessed

    • profile image

      ryanhx64 5 years ago

      @Diana Wenzel: An underground house would be awesome.

    • beaworkathomemom profile image

      beaworkathomemom 5 years ago

      These houses are really amazing. They've got creative ideas.

    • ayng29 lm profile image

      ayng29 lm 5 years ago

      Hello. Just letting you know that I featured your lens in my lens about dream houses. This was the lens I saw that inspired me to create that lens. The houses are outrageous but I think living underground is interesting.

    • AlwaysCurious LM profile image

      Ashley 5 years ago from St. Louis

      I featured this lens on my lens.... : )

    • GeekGirl1 profile image

      GeekGirl1 5 years ago

      Amazing houses. I enjoyed reading your lens.

    • profile image

      miauw99 5 years ago

      wow, you make a great lens, never think about this before..

    • GonnaFly profile image

      Jeanette 5 years ago from Australia

      @Diana Wenzel: Maybe the smell would anaesthetise you ;-)

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 5 years ago from Colorado

      I love the ingenuity of people who have learned to adapt and dwell harmoniously with the land. Those turf homes are awesome. Yurts also appeal to me. The other place that speaks to me is that floating island. Don't think I would enjoy living above farm animals. I'd never get any sleep and I'm wondering about the smells that would drift up into the living space. Very interesting article. Thanks!

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