Snow Architecture in Northeast China
Heilongjiang suffers a long winter period with cold and dry climate. The average winter temperature is between -15 celsius to -30 celsius. It is probably quite unimaginable for people in other areas to live in such a cold environment. From excavating mountain holes for protecting them against the bitter cold to creating ice lantern and snow sculpture at their pleasure by ice and snow, in the long-term adaptation and reconstruction of the living environment, the northeast people have experienced a long process of conquering the nature and have subsequently created the unique snow architecture culture.
The snow architecture in northeast China is started from the underground. In order to survive in the atrocious weather with chilly wind blowing and ice and snow covering the land, the ancient people in northeast China "always lived in burrows as deep as possible". They went in and out the burrow by long ladder, made a fire in the burrow and surround the burrow with tree branches, straw or hides to withstand cold. However, since the underground ventilation and lighting conditions were poor, people began to move from the deep underground to the shadow underground and finally to be on the ground while making use of timber and straw to keep warm. The "cellar" and "Majiazi" in which the Hoche lived in the early times were such kind of transitional shelters. The ancestors of the northeast people began to transfer from the troglodytism to build house on the ground till the Jurchens in Liao Dynasty and began to use the stoves, fireplace, Chinese heated brick kang and other heating equipments.
The Olunchun in northeast China also dig snow house for sleeping when hunting outside in the winter. The person hunting alone will dig a deep snow hole, insert poles on the four angles to support the bearskin shield, light a bonfire in the snow house and lay the wild boar skin on the ground as the bed. This kind of snow house has poor sealing property and the inside temperature is comparatively low so people inside mainly rely on bonfire for heating.
Till today, the architectures and the corresponding facilities in northeast China also play decisive roles in cold protection and keeping themselves warm, which is mainly reflected in: the roof, adopting spires and slope roof for rapid removal of snow; the wall: general thickness of more than 50 cm to play a full role in cold protection and keeping themselves warm; the window: mainly the double-layer vacuum glass window that is sealed well, preserving the heat while keeping adequate lighting; the central heating: central heating supply by burning coal to realized the room temperature about 20 celsius to 25 celsius.
"Chinese heated brick bed-kang" can not be neglected when talking about snow architecture culture. It is an old custom of China that "Sleep on the bed in the south and on the kang in the north". Kang is the "warm bed" of the northerners. Although the heated kang is rarely used in the building of Northern cities, it still exists in the houses of the northern farmers. "Wife and children sleeping on the warm heat kang" is also the symbol of the simple and unsophisticated folkway of the northeast rural areas.