I had never seen anything quite like them, so I queried him further about how they were made and used. He replied, “The foundation was built with rocks, 2 feet high all around. The juice of glutinous rice and some lime is mixed into the earth for strength, and then sliced bamboo, reeds, and sometimes pieces of wood are also used.”
I did some further internet research and found out more about these interesting structures. Tulou are traditional communal residences in the Fujian province of Southern China, often of a circular configuration surrounding a central shrine. Some of these vernacular structures were constructed of cut granite or had substantial walls of fired brick. The end result is a well lit, well-ventilated, windproof, earthquake resistant building that is warm in winter and cool in summer.