Houses in Settlements
Types for Traditional Civilian Residences
Most traditional private residences in Kinmen kept the form and layout of houses in Zhangzhou and Quanzhou Province in Southern Minnan; limited by family size, geography and weather conditions, such residences are usually not big; normally, courtyards are the prototype and additional styles are derived from it according to the location. The styles of these houses can be generally divided into “the basic type” (mostly traditional three-section or four-section compounds); “derived types” (additions to traditional courtyards) and “other types” (houses using special techniques).
1.One. Basic Type (Three-Section Compound)
A traditional building type: one main hall and two small front rooms & one main hall and four small front rooms
Buildings with one main hall and two small front rooms, and with one main hall and four small front rooms are together the most common basic structure for traditional Kinmen residences. Their basic structure includes a courtyard with three bays (referred to as central wing, main hall and ancestral shrine), the east-west symmetric front rooms (also called wing rooms, side houses or Gua-Fang (room)) and open courtyard (shenjintou (deep sky well), middle courtyard).
This type of building can be found in the villages of Qionglin, Shuitou, Zhushan, Oucuo, Nanshan, and Beishan
A traditional building type, one main hall, front hall and two small front rooms
The basic structure is one main hall and four small front rooms; a roof with a round ridge, a swallowtail or a brick roof is added to the small front room at the entrance to make it a four-section compound.
This type of building can be found in Qionglin village.
Two Courtyard Grand House (Double Courtyard Grand House)
The layout of two courtyard grand houses is very similar to that of buildings with one main hall, front hall and two small front rooms, and both are of the four-section compound style. The difference lies in how the front roof is built. The front of the two courtyard grand houses combines the front small rooms and the front hall under one roof and connected by chambers so that the entire construction is comprised of one front courtyard and one back courtyard.
This type of building can be found in villages of Qionglin, Shuitou, Zhushan, Oucuo, Nanshan, and Beishan
Three Courtyard Grand Houses
One more courtyard is added at the front or back of a two courtyard grand house.
This type of building can be found in Zhushan village.
2.The Derived Type
tou-kuo (an attached building)
One row of rooms is added to the left or right wing of a two courtyard grand house or a building with one main hall, front hall and two small front rooms so that the construction is comprised of courtyards at the front. The added rooms are called single attached buildings. If two rows of rooms are added, the construction is then comprised of five courtyards which are called the double tou-kuo. A long sky well is built between main constructions. For the double tou-kou of a five-courtyard construction, swallowtail ridges are built on both wings; it is considered a part of the official layout and is called “Six Courtyard Grand House”, meaning it has six partition walls.
This type of building can be found in the villages of Qionglin and Ouchu.
ho-ling (an attached building)
The biggest difference between ho-ling and tou-kuo is in the front. The former has an independent front entrance, facing the same direction as the front gate; a long sky well is built in the original construction and a corridor providing shelter from rain is connected to the front of the women-children’s alley and it is traditionally called “Guo-Shui” (keeping the rainfall out).
This type of building can be found in the villages of Qionglin, Shuitou, Zhushan, Oucuo, Nanshan and Beishan
hui-xiang (an opposite building)
Hui-xiang means to add another building at the front of the two courtyard grand house, facing the grand house. A big nei-chen (inner yard) is built between the grand house and hui-xiang with its front facing the two courtyard grand house.
This type of building can be found in Qionglin village.
Two-story building with one main hall and two small front rooms
Influenced by western-style houses, a second floor is added to the building, creating more space in it while further emphasizing the wealth of the owner.
This type of building can be found in Shanhou. Village.
Most of the private residences in Kinmen are not of the basic type due to smaller house sites or scattered lands. Houses built to fit certain house sites are considered exceptions. There are not many such types of residences in Kinmen and they are mostly built asymmetrically. In addition, in some markets developed due to thriving business activities back in the early days, most of the buildings there are the so-called shophouses. Such buildings are not of the comb shaped form all facing the same direction; instead they are in the face-to-face/opposite spatial relationship. The most famous example is the traditional shophouses outside Beimen in Ming Dynasty Jinmencheng.
Western-Style Houses in Kinmen
Lots of young and middle-aged men from Kinmen went to southern Asia and Japan to make money. They went by sea through one of the treaty ports – Xiamen at the end of the Qing Dynasty and the early Republic of China and they always sent money back home to improve the lives of their families. With this money sent back from abroad, many western-style houses were built in Kinmen and such houses have become a cultural symbol that integrates western and eastern cultures. Most of the space in such houses is for living in and only a small portion is used as classrooms, gun buildings or ancestral shrines.
Attached Buildings (ho-ling) stacked building, introducing outdoor corridor
Additions to traditional Han-style residences are mostly horizontal expansions on the left and right wings. During the time of overseas remittance, a new kind of western-style house started to appear in Kinmen. It was called ho-ling stacked building (having a second floor) and had an outdoor corridor. Without changing the main construction at the axis, additions are added to the secondary attached construction. It is architectural engineering that combines horizontal expansion and volume enlargement.
Adding a western style gable at the traditional front of the courtyard construction is called a foreigner’s house. It is a variation of two-courtyard grand houses.
The Five-Foot Way Arcade (outdoor corridor)
In Western-style houses with an outdoor corridor the front of the outdoor corridors are attached to the traditional compound “four rooms with one hall” and a second floor is added to the compound. The forms of the outdoor corridors include:
♦ Five-Foot Way Arcade: outdoor corridors do not stick out.
An In-Depth Trip to the Traditional Settlements
The traditional architectural culture is the most abundant cultural asset in Kinmen National Park. There are a total of seven representative traditional settlements: Oucuo, Zhushan, Shuitou, Qionglin, Shanhou, Nanshan and Beishan.
Nanshan and Beishan: Nanshan and Beishan are at the opposite direction of each other with the Lake of Twin Carps in between. Together with Lincuo, they are called Guningtou. This was the main battlefield for the famous Guningtou War. We can still see many bullet holes and relics left behind from the war.
Shanhou: In Shanhou, there are 18 neatly laid-out, two-courtyard grand houses with perky swallow tail ridges and the horizontal gate. It is a settlement that has been well-organized and carefully built.
Zhoushan: Ancestral shrines and Tatan (big pond) are the center of this settlement. All buildings are arranged in an orderly fashion on the gentle slopes, facing Tatan. It is a perfect example of traditional settlements built to adapt to the geography.
Shuitou: From the two courtyard grand houses in the Southern Fujian style built during the rule of Qing Dynasty Emperor Qianlong to the western-style houses of the early Republic of China, private residences in different styles built at different times have contributed to the unique regional features of Shuitou.
Qionglin: This settlement is well-preserved. It is the largest settlement back in the old days; many people here passed the imperial exam and accepted official positions in the Ming and Qing Dynasties and Qionglin is famous for its “eight ancestral shrines in seven houses.” The complete clan system and ancestor worship activities are still kept properly there. In 2012, Qionglin is registered as “the settlement”according to procedure stipulated by the“Cultural Heritage Preservation Act”.
Oucuo: The gate groups on the upper half of the settlement has defined the living together space and created a protecting effect; the complete 1 hall with 4 front small room building groups in the lower half of the settlement are the typical “comb shape layout”- though simple, yet interesting in its own way.
Whether it’s the landscape in the space or the local folk costumes in daily life, Kinmen National Park is rich in cultural significance; such features are valuable cultural assets owned in common by the people of Kinmen.