In traditional culture, Naxi people, who are the minorities live in the region, believe that mountains are the backbone of their culture, while water is the soul. The design honors this belief, the walls are built with stones from surrounding mountains and a reflecting pool is included in the community center courtyard. Li also believes that the design should be sustainable and respecting the nature. Therefore, he maximizes the use of local materials. Most of the local buildings are built with a type of clay-rich stone, known as “monkey-head” shown in Figure 4. Local villagers use it as an exterior walls. In Li’s design, he chose to use a white limestone, which is also abundant in local environment shown in Figure 5. The white limestone gives a different hue to the exterior walls and makes the building unique but also in harmony with the surrounding houses, which were built with “monkey-head”.
Because Yuhu is located in an earthquake zone, the capability to resist earthquake is highly concerned for the local buildings. In tradition houses, the main structure is hold by wood frames and stones are mounted on the exterior. During the 1996 level 7 earthquake, most of the exterior stone walls were collapsed but wood frame structures well remained. In the design of this project, Li adopted this traditional structure system and added new technologies to improve its resistance to earthquake. In traditional house construction, stones are mounted to the exterior walls and are likely to collapse during earthquake. In this project, vertical steel bars are inserted in the stone walls at a set interval. Horizontal meshes are also installed in layers to prevent lateral force during frequent earthquakes. Traditional stone wall construction is well combined with innovative use of steel bars and metal meshes to improve the earthquake resistance.
A local mortise-and-tenon system is used in the project for wood frame joints. Mortise-and-tenon system is a nail-less wood connection that allows some movement during the earthquake. Unlike the nail connection, which can be distorted during the earthquake, mortise-and-tenon connection has the flexibility during the earthquake and the ability to self-restore to its original position after the earthquake. The sliding and windows are designed to allow maximum daylight penetrate into the buildings. Moreover, in Naxi tradition, a shallow stone foundation called “Dafangjiao” is used in construction. Since it is shallow, it does not have enough strength to against ground movement during earthquake. To improve the foundations, reinforced concrete pad foundations with ground beams are utilized.
In traditional Naxi architecture, staircases are usually small and located in a corner of the house. In Li’s design, he brings the staircase out to the center of the courtyard as shown in Figure 6 and 7 and saves more space for the classrooms. The staircase was constructed with reinforced concrete with limestone cladding....