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The architecture of China

2018/7/19 11:09:54451 People viewed this article

The architecture of China is as old as Chinese civilization. China have always enjoyed an indigenous system of construction that has retained its principal characteristics from prehistoric times to the present day. Over the vast area from Chinese Turkistan to Japan, from Manchuria to the northern half of Indochina, the same system of construction is prevalent; and this was the area of Chinese cultural influence. This system of construction could perpetuate itself for more than four thousand years over such a vast territory and still remain a living architecture, retaining its principal characteristics in spite of repeated foreign invasions—military, intellectual, and spiritual - is a phenomenon comparable only to the continuity of the civilization of which it is an integral part.


The wooden beam and pillar structure enjoyed a great popularity due to its structural advantages, and thus it became the base of the ancient Chinese architecture.


Chinese roof arts are quite interesting. Flat roofs are uncommon while gabled roofs are almost omnipresent in traditional Chinese architectures. Roofs are either built on roof cross-beams or rest directly on vertical structural beams. In higher class construction, the statues of mythical animals and opera characters are ornamented on the roofs, and roof supporting beams are supported through complex "dougong" bracketing systems that indirectly connect them to the primary structural beams. Walls do not support roof. There is an old saying which goes, ”The house will not collapse even if the walls topple down.” 


Another important feature in Chinese architecture is its emphasis on articulation and bilateral symmetry, which signifies balance. Bilateral symmetry and the articulation of buildings are found everywhere in Chinese architecture, from palace complexes to humble farmhouses.


In contrast to the buildings, Chinese gardens are a notable exception which tend to be asymmetrical. The principle underlying the garden's composition is to follow nature and create enduring flow.


In much of traditional Chinese architectures, buildings or building complexes take up an entire property but enclose open spaces (courtyard) within themselves. Classical Chinese buildings are built with an emphasis on breadth and less on height. This contrasts Western architecture, which tends to grow in height and depth. Chinese architecture stresses the visual impact of the width of the buildings. 


Chinese architecture from early times used concepts from Chinese cosmology such as Feng Shui (Geomancy) and Taoism to organize construction and layout from common residences to imperial and religious structures.