Stilt houses (also called pile dwellings or lake dwellings) are houses raised on stilts
(or piles) over the surface of the soil or a body of water
. Stilt houses are built primarily as a protection against flooding
they also keep out vermin
The shady space under the house can be used for work or storage.
Houses where permafrost
is present, in the Arctic
, are built on stilts to keep permafrost under them from melting. Permafrost can be up to 70% water. While frozen, it provides a stable foundation. However, if heat radiating from the bottom of a home melts the permafrost, the home goes out of level and starts sinking into the ground. Other means of keeping the permafrost from melting are available, but raising the home off the ground on stilts is one of the most effective ways.
Raised rectangular houses are one of the cultural hallmarks of the Austronesian peoples
and are found throughout the regions in Island Southeast Asia
, Island Melanesia
, and Polynesia
settled by Austronesians. The structures are raised on piles, usually with the space underneath also utilized for storage or domestic animals
. The raised design had multiple advantages, they mitigate damage during flooding and (in very tall examples) can act as defensive structures during conflicts. The house posts are also distinctively capped with larger-diameter discs at the top, to prevent vermin and pests from entering the structures by climbing them. Austronesian houses and other structures are usually built in wetlands and alongside bodies of water, but can also be built in the highlands or even directly on shallow water.
Building structures on pilings is believed to be derived from the design of raised rice granaries
and storehouses, which are highly important status symbols among the ancestrally rice-cultivating Austronesians.
The rice granary shrine was also the archetypal religious building among Austronesian cultures and was used to store carvings of ancestor spirits and local deities.
While rice cultivation wasn't among the technologies carried into Remote Oceania
, raised storehouses still survived. The ''pataka'' of the Māori people
is an example. The largest ''pataka'' are elaborately adorned with carvings and are often the tallest buildings in the Māori ''pā
''. These were used to store implements, weapons, ships, and other valuables; while smaller ''pataka'' were used to store provisions. A special type of ''pataka'' supported by a single tall post also had ritual importance and were used to isolate high-born children during their training for leadership.
The majority of Austronesian structures are not permanent. They are made from perishable materials like wood, bamboo, plant fiber, and leaves. Because of this, archaeological records of prehistoric Austronesian structures are usually limited to traces of house posts, with no way of determining the original building plans.
Indirect evidence of traditional Austronesian architecture, however, can be gleaned from their contemporary representations in art, like in friezes
on the walls of later Hindu-Buddhist
stone temples (like in reliefs in Borobudur
). But these are limited to the recent centuries. They can also be reconstructed linguistically from shared terms for architectural elements, like ridge-poles, thatch, rafters, house posts, hearth, notched log ladders, storage racks, public buildings, and so on. Linguistic evidence also makes it clear that stilt houses were already present among Austronesian groups since at least the Late Neolithic
Arbi ''et al.'' (2013) have also noted the striking similarities between Austronesian architecture and Japanese traditional raised architecture (''shinmei-zukuri
''). Particularly the buildings of the Ise Grand Shrine
, which contrast with the pit-houses
typical of the Neolithic Yayoi period
. They propose significant Neolithic contact between the people of southern Japan and Austronesians or pre-Austronesians that occurred prior to the spread of Han Chinese
cultural influence to the islands.
Rice cultivation is also believed to have been introduced to Japan from a para-Austronesian group from coastal eastern China.
Waterson (2009) has also argued that the architectural tradition of stilt houses in eastern Asia and the Pacific is originally Austronesian, and that similar building traditions in Japan and mainland Asia (notably among Kra-Dai
-speaking groups) correspond to contacts with a prehistoric Austronesian network.
Stilt houses were also built by Amerindians
in pre-Columbian times
s'' are especially widespread along the banks of the tropical river valleys of South America, notably the Amazon
river systems. Stilt houses were such a prevalent feature along the shores of Lake Maracaibo
that Amerigo Vespucci
was inspired to name the region "Venezuela" (little Venice). As the costs of hurricane damage increase, more and more houses along the Gulf Coast
are being built as or converted to stilt houses.
Stilt houses are also still common in parts of the Mosquito Coast
in northeastern Nicaragua
, northern Brazil
are also a common feature in West Africa, e.g., in the Malinke
language regions of Mali
In the Neolithic
, the Copper Age
and the Bronze Age
, stilt-house settlements were common in the Alpine
and Pianura Padana
Remains have been found at the Ljubljana Marshes
and at the Mondsee
lakes in Upper Austria
, for example. Early archaeologist
s like Ferdinand Keller
thought they formed artificial islands, much like the Irish and Scottish crannog
s, but today it is clear that the majority of settlements were located on the shores of lakes and were only inundated later on.
Reconstructed stilt houses are shown in open-air museum
s in Unteruhldingen
(Pfahlbauland). In June 2011, the prehistoric pile dwellings in six Alpine states
were designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site
s. A single Scandinavia
n pile dwelling, the Alvastra stilt houses
, has been excavated in Sweden. Herodotus
has described in his ''Histories
'' the dwellings of the "lake-dwellers" in Paeonia
and how those were constructed.
In the Alps, similar buildings, known as raccards, are still in use as granaries. In England, granaries are placed on staddle stones, similar to stilts, to prevent mice and rats getting to the grain.
In Italy there are several stilt-houses settlements, for example the one on the Rocca di Manerba del Garda (Lombardy).
* Diaojiaolou – Stilt houses in southern China.
* Heliotrope – A concept house designed by Rolf Disch with a single stilt, optimized for harnessing solar power.
* Kelong – Built primarily for fishing, but often doubling up as offshore dwellings in the following countries: Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.
* Bahay Kubo – The traditional house type prevalent in the Philippines.
* Palafito – Found throughout South America since Pre-Columbian times. In the late 19th century, numerous palafitos were built in Chilean cities such as Castro, Chonchi, and other towns in the Chiloé Archipelago, and are now considered a typical element of Chilotan architecture.
* Pang uk – A special kind of house found in Tai O, Lantau, Hong Kong, mainly built by Tankas.
* Papua New Guinea stilt house – A kind of stilt house constructed by Motuans, commonly found in the southern coastal area of PNG.
* Queenslander – Stilt house common in Queensland and northern New South Wales, Australia.
* Sang Ghar – A type of stilt house built in Assam state of India. It is mainly found in flood-prone areas of the Brahmaputra river valley.
* Thai stilt house – A kind of house often built on freshwater, e.g., a lotus pond.
* Vietnamese stilt house – Similar to the Thai ones, except having a front door with a smaller height for religious reasons.
Stilt houses as water villas are common in the Maldives and Assam
Maori pataka.jpg|Māori ''pataka'' storehouses
Lacustrine Village.jpg|Lacustrine Village found in Lake Zurich, Switzerland
Rumoh Acèh di Piyeung Datu.jpg|Rumoh Aceh, Acehnese traditional house
Cempa stilthouses.jpg|Stilt houses in Cempa, located in the Lingga Islands of Indonesia
AttapeuStiltHouse.jpg|A stilt house in Attapeu Province, southern Laos
Fragaria washington.JPG|Stilt houses along Puget Sound in Fragaria, Washington, United States
Cambo 25.jpg|A rural stilt house in Cambodia
Philippinen basilan seezigeuner ph04p69.jpg|Bajau stilt houses over the sea in the Philippines
Stilt house in Ban Saladan, Krabi province, Thailand.jpg|A stilt house in Southern Thailand
Haus afrika zoo gelsenkirchen.jpg|An African home reconstructed in Germany
Puente en zona de palafitos en Nueva Venecia-Sitionuevo-Magdalena-Colombia.jpg|A bridge between stilt houses (''palafito'') in Colombia, in Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta
Traditional Messolongi stilt house.jpg|Traditional stilt house in the Missolonghi Lagoon, Western Greece
Tonle Sap stilt houses.JPG|Stilt houses on Tonlé Sap Lake, Cambodia
Diamonds Thudufushi Beach and Water Villas, May 2017 -03.jpg|Vacation resort in the Maldives
Biggest stilt house in Vietnam.jpg|The biggest stilt house in Vietnam
* Pfahlbaumuseum Unteruhldingen – an English-language article about the stilt house museum in Unteruhldingen, Germany
* Post in ground
* Prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps
* Rumah Melayu
* Wood pilings
View on OSM wiki