Stilt house
Overview
 
Stilt houses or pile dwellings or palafitte are houses raised on pile
Deep foundation
A deep foundation is a type of foundation distinguished from shallow foundations by the depth they are embedded into the ground. There are many reasons a geotechnical engineer would recommend a deep foundation over a shallow foundation, but some of the common reasons are very large design loads, a...

s over the surface of the soil or a body of water. Stilt houses are built primarily as a protection against flooding
Flood
A flood is an overflow of an expanse of water that submerges land. The EU Floods directive defines a flood as a temporary covering by water of land not normally covered by water...

, but also serve to keep out vermin
Vermin
Vermin is a term applied to various animal species regarded by some as pests or nuisances and especially to those associated with the carrying of disease. Since the term is defined in relation to human activities, which species are included will vary from area to area and even person to person...

. The shady space under the house can be used for work or storage.
In the Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 and Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

, stilt houses were common in the Alpine
Alps
The Alps is one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany to France in the west....

 and Pianura Padana (Terramare) region. Remains have been found at the Ljubljana Marshes in Slovenia
Slovenia
Slovenia , officially the Republic of Slovenia , is a country in Central and Southeastern Europe touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean. Slovenia borders Italy to the west, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north, and also has a small portion of...

 and at the Mondsee and Attersee
Attersee (lake)
Attersee is the largest lake of the Salzkammergut area of Austria. It extends for about 20 km from north to south and 4 km from east to west. Its water comes from the Seeache, which flows out of another lake, the Mondsee...

 lakes in Upper Austria
Upper Austria
Upper Austria is one of the nine states or Bundesländer of Austria. Its capital is Linz. Upper Austria borders on Germany and the Czech Republic, as well as on the other Austrian states of Lower Austria, Styria, and Salzburg...

, for example.
Encyclopedia
Stilt houses or pile dwellings or palafitte are houses raised on pile
Deep foundation
A deep foundation is a type of foundation distinguished from shallow foundations by the depth they are embedded into the ground. There are many reasons a geotechnical engineer would recommend a deep foundation over a shallow foundation, but some of the common reasons are very large design loads, a...

s over the surface of the soil or a body of water. Stilt houses are built primarily as a protection against flooding
Flood
A flood is an overflow of an expanse of water that submerges land. The EU Floods directive defines a flood as a temporary covering by water of land not normally covered by water...

, but also serve to keep out vermin
Vermin
Vermin is a term applied to various animal species regarded by some as pests or nuisances and especially to those associated with the carrying of disease. Since the term is defined in relation to human activities, which species are included will vary from area to area and even person to person...

. The shady space under the house can be used for work or storage.

History

In the Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 and Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

, stilt houses were common in the Alpine
Alps
The Alps is one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany to France in the west....

 and Pianura Padana (Terramare) region. Remains have been found at the Ljubljana Marshes in Slovenia
Slovenia
Slovenia , officially the Republic of Slovenia , is a country in Central and Southeastern Europe touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean. Slovenia borders Italy to the west, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north, and also has a small portion of...

 and at the Mondsee and Attersee
Attersee (lake)
Attersee is the largest lake of the Salzkammergut area of Austria. It extends for about 20 km from north to south and 4 km from east to west. Its water comes from the Seeache, which flows out of another lake, the Mondsee...

 lakes in Upper Austria
Upper Austria
Upper Austria is one of the nine states or Bundesländer of Austria. Its capital is Linz. Upper Austria borders on Germany and the Czech Republic, as well as on the other Austrian states of Lower Austria, Styria, and Salzburg...

, for example. Early archaeologists like Ferdinand Keller
Ferdinand Keller (antiquity scholar)
Ferdinand Keller was a Swiss archaeologist. He is mainly known for his investigations of lake-dwellings in Switzerland in 1853–54, and work on the remains of the La Tène culture. He is the founder of the Antiquarische Gesellschaft in Zürich....

 thought they formed artificial islands, much like the Scottish Crannog
Crannog
A crannog is typically a partially or entirely artificial island, usually built in lakes, rivers and estuarine waters of Scotland and Ireland. Crannogs were used as dwellings over five millennia from the European Neolithic Period, to as late as the 17th/early 18th century although in Scotland,...

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
Open air museum
An open-air museum is a distinct type of museum exhibiting its collections out-of-doors. The first open-air museums were established in Scandinavia towards the end of the nineteenth century, and the concept soon spread throughout Europe and North America. Open-air museums are variously known as...

s in Unteruhldingen
Pfahlbau Museum Unteruhldingen
Pfahlbaumuseum Unteruhldingen is an archaeological open air museum on Lake Constance in Unteruhldingen, Germany, consisting of reconstructions of stilt houses or lake dwellings from the Neolithic Stone Age and Bronze Age.-Museum:The museum consists of a number of exhibits displaying...

 and Zürich
Zürich
Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zurich. It is located in central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zurich...

 (Pfahlbauland). A single Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

n pile dwelling, the Alvastra stilt houses, has been excavated in Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

. According to archeological evidences stilt-houses settlements was an architectural norm in Caroline Islands
Caroline Islands
The Caroline Islands are a widely scattered archipelago of tiny islands in the western Pacific Ocean, to the north of New Guinea. Politically they are divided between the Federated States of Micronesia in the eastern part of the group, and Palau at the extreme western end...

 and Micronesia
Micronesia
Micronesia is a subregion of Oceania, comprising thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It is distinct from Melanesia to the south, and Polynesia to the east. The Philippines lie to the west, and Indonesia to the southwest....

 and still present in today Oceania
Oceania
Oceania is a region centered on the islands of the tropical Pacific Ocean. Conceptions of what constitutes Oceania range from the coral atolls and volcanic islands of the South Pacific to the entire insular region between Asia and the Americas, including Australasia and the Malay Archipelago...

 .

Today, stilt houses are still common in parts of the Mosquito Coast
Mosquito Coast
The Caribbean Mosquito Coast historically consisted of an area along the Atlantic coast of present-day Nicaragua and Honduras, and part of the Western Caribbean Zone. It was named after the local Miskito Indians and long dominated by British interests...

 in Northeastern Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

, Northern Brazil, South East Asia, Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea , officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is a country in Oceania, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and numerous offshore islands...

 and West Africa
West Africa
West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. Geopolitically, the UN definition of Western Africa includes the following 16 countries and an area of approximately 5 million square km:-Flags of West Africa:...

. In the Alps, similar buildings, known as raccard
Raccard
Raccards are traditional granaries that can be found in parts of the Swiss Alps . These structures are built above ground and are supported by wooden stilts. A circular stone slab, forming an overhang, is intercalated between the stilts and the granary to prevent rodents from gaining access to the...

s, are still in use as granaries
Granary
A granary is a storehouse for threshed grain or animal feed. In ancient or primitive granaries, pottery is the most common use of storage in these buildings. Granaries are often built above the ground to keep the stored food away from mice and other animals.-Early origins:From ancient times grain...

. In England, graneries are placed on staddlestones, similar to stilts, to prevent mice and rats getting to the grain. Stilted graneries are also a common feature in West Africa, e.g. in the Malinke
Mandinka people
The Mandinka, Malinke are one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa with an estimated population of eleven million ....

 language regions of Mali
Mali
Mali , officially the Republic of Mali , is a landlocked country in Western Africa. Mali borders Algeria on the north, Niger on the east, Burkina Faso and the Côte d'Ivoire on the south, Guinea on the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania on the west. Its size is just over 1,240,000 km² with...

 and Guinea
Guinea
Guinea , officially the Republic of Guinea , is a country in West Africa. Formerly known as French Guinea , it is today sometimes called Guinea-Conakry to distinguish it from its neighbour Guinea-Bissau. Guinea is divided into eight administrative regions and subdivided into thirty-three prefectures...

.

Western hemisphere

Stilt houses are also common in the western hemisphere
Western Hemisphere
The Western Hemisphere or western hemisphere is mainly used as a geographical term for the half of the Earth that lies west of the Prime Meridian and east of the Antimeridian , the other half being called the Eastern Hemisphere.In this sense, the western hemisphere consists of the western portions...

, and appear to have been an indigenous creation by the Amerindians
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 in pre-Columbian times
Pre-Columbian era
The pre-Columbian era incorporates all period subdivisions in the history and prehistory of the Americas before the appearance of significant European influences on the American continents, spanning the time of the original settlement in the Upper Paleolithic period to European colonization during...

. They are especially widespread along the banks of the tropical river valleys of South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

 (Palafito
Palafito
A palafito is a stilt village or dwelling erected on bodies of water. The name Venezuela, meaning "Little Venice," may be due to these Palafitos, which reminded Amerigo Vespucci of Venice when he explored Lake Maracaibo...

), notably the Amazon
Amazon River
The Amazon of South America is the second longest river in the world and by far the largest by waterflow with an average discharge greater than the next seven largest rivers combined...

 and Orinoco
Orinoco
The Orinoco is one of the longest rivers in South America at . Its drainage basin, sometimes called the Orinoquia, covers , with 76.3% of it in Venezuela and the remainder in Colombia...

 river systems. Stilt houses were such a prevalent feature along the shores of Lake Maracaibo
Lake Maracaibo
Lake Maracaibo is a large brackish bay in Venezuela at . It is connected to the Gulf of Venezuela by Tablazo Strait at the northern end, and fed by numerous rivers, the largest being the Catatumbo. It is commonly considered a lake rather than a bay or lagoon, and at 13,210 km² it would be the...

 that Amerigo Vespucci
Amerigo Vespucci
Amerigo Vespucci was an Italian explorer, financier, navigator and cartographer. The Americas are generally believed to have derived their name from the feminized Latin version of his first name.-Expeditions:...

 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.

Types of stilt house

  • Kelong
    Kelong
    A Kelong is a Malay word to describe a form of offshore platform built predominantly with wood, and can be found in waters off Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia, while only a handful remains around Singapore due to rapid urbanisation.Kelongs are built by fishermen primarily for fishing...

     - built primarily for fishing, but often doubling up as offshore dwellings in the following countries Philippines
    Philippines
    The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

    , Malaysia, Indonesia
    Indonesia
    Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

     and Singapore
    Singapore
    Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

    .
  • Nipa hut
    Nipa Hut
    The nipa hut also known as bahay kubo, is an indigenous house used in the Philippines. The native house has traditionally been constructed with bamboo tied together and covered with a thatched roof using nipa/anahaw leaves....

     - the traditional house-type prevalent in the Philippines
    Philippines
    The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

     although Philippine houses are mostly westernized
  • Pang uk
    Pang uk
    Pang uk is a kind of stilt house found in Tai O, Lantau Island, Hong Kong. Pang uk are built on water or on small beaches....

    - a special kind of house found in Tai O
    Tai O
    Tai O is a fishing town, partly located on an island of the same name, on the western side of Lantau Island in Hong Kong.-Geography:On the main part of Lantau Island, a river splits to the north and west and at this fork lies the island referred to as Tai O. Two pedestrian bridges cross the river...

    , Lantau, Hong Kong
    Hong Kong
    Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

    , mainly built by Tankas
    Tanka (ethnic group)
    The Tankas or Boat people is a special group of people in Southern China that has traditionally lived on junks in coastal parts of Guangdong, Guangxi, Fujian, Hainan, and Zhejiang provinces, as well as Hong Kong and Macau...

    .
  • Papua New Guinea stilt house
    Papua New Guinea stilt house
    Papua New Guinea stilt house is a stilt house constructed by Motuans, one of the native peoples of Papua New Guinea. Papua New Guinea is a country with high mountains, forests, lowlands, swamps, and coral beaches....

     - a kind of stilt house constructed by Motuan
    Motuan
    The Motuans are native inhabitants of Papua New Guinea, living along the southern coastal area of the country. Their indigenous language is known as Motu, and they are believed to be the descendants of Polynesian immigrants who intermarried with the native Melanesians of the area...

    s, commonly found in the southern coastal area of PNG.
  • Thai stilt house
    Thai stilt house
    A Thai stilt house is a bamboo-made hut with sharp angled roofs and wooden floorboards. The ceiling is typically high to provide good ventilation. The mattress would be usually laid on the floor rather than on a bed. The house can be found along the beaches in Thailand, and some freshwater sources...

     - a kind of house often built on freshwater
    Freshwater
    Fresh water is naturally occurring water on the Earth's surface in ice sheets, ice caps, glaciers, bogs, ponds, lakes, rivers and streams, and underground as groundwater in aquifers and underground streams. Fresh water is generally characterized by having low concentrations of dissolved salts and...

    , e.g. a lotus
    Nelumbo
    Nelumbo is a genus of aquatic plants with large, showy flowers resembling water lilies, commonly known as lotus. The generic name is derived from the Sinhalese word Nelum. There are only two known living species in the genus. The sacred lotus is native to Asia, and is the better known of the two...

     pond.
  • Vietnamese stilt house - similar to the Thai ones, except having a front door with a smaller height due to religious reasons.
  • Palafito
    Palafito
    A palafito is a stilt village or dwelling erected on bodies of water. The name Venezuela, meaning "Little Venice," may be due to these Palafitos, which reminded Amerigo Vespucci of Venice when he explored Lake Maracaibo...

    - Found throughout South America since Pre-Columbian times.
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