Buildings in ancient China have a lengthy history dating back to the Shang Dynasty (16th century BC – 771 BC). It has its own structure and layout concepts. If you go to China, you can see that most of the interesting places for visitors are still using their ancient architecture and style.
The Great Wall of China.
This is one of the hundreds of wonders of the world where the wall has its own historical story behind it. The Great Wall of China is a historic system of walls and fortresses in northern China that spans more than 13,000 kilometres. The Great Wall, perhaps the most famous emblem of China and its long and colourful history, was designed by Emperor Qin Shi Huang in the third century B.C. as a method of stopping barbarian nomad invasions. Despite the fact that the Great Wall never effectively kept invaders out of China, it became a strong emblem of Chinese civilization’s everlasting greatness.
Not only their historical building, but Chinese houses are mostly built with the same concept which is mainly timberwork. Depending on the type and quality of wood, it is frequently selected for its long-term durability and natural look.
If you are an architecture enthusiast, you will surely love the architectural buildings in China because of the special features of Chinese buildings. In this article, I will be explaining briefly about the special features of Chinese buildings and some historical background of why it was built that way.
If you have visited China a few times or maybe you have visited a few Chinese historical places such as imperial palaces, temples, and residential buildings, you will realise that their building has symmetrical layouts. Symmetrical compound plans, such as the bigger main structure in the middle surrounded on all sides by smaller ones or symmetrically positioned gates, helped to protect the vital main building from the weather and outside assaults. As a result, the side and southern structures deflected the wind and protected the main northern building from assailants’ arrows and other weapons. It is used and applied to aid during wars.
Wooden Courtyard Compounds
Modifiable wooden courtyard structures are the most common style for clans with the financial means to construct and maintain them. In the past, application of wooden courtyard compounds were essential as they are cost – efficient which means, you can build it once and sustain it for a very long time. Family members had to learn to live in confined compounds with limited personal space throughout their lives, even as their responsibilities changed as they aged, so they could remodel and more quickly repair disaster damage and avoid relocation.
Have you ever heard of earth buildings? What do you think it is like? Will it be a circle? Will it be full of trees and nature?
Ramped earth buildings are thick walls of rammed earth and sometimes the interior of the houses were occasionally made out of bricks and stone in a circle without windows. The example that we can see in China is the Fujian Hakka Tulou or Hakka Earth Buildings. They are one-of-a-kind, fort-like structures made of a combination of clay and sandy soil. The Hakka minority, who are a cautious people, created these unusual structures when the Hakka Han relocated from their native homeland in northern central China to the mountains of southeast China during the Song Dynasty (960–1279), they erected walled towns.
In the environment of the river basins, the seismic activity and frequent flood disasters prompted the people to build flexibly using wood for most buildings. It is mainly because it is suitable and will bring various benefits to the buildings. The buildings’ timber structure or lumber work are making them earthquake and storm resistant, as well as allowing for reconfiguration, extension, and rebuilding if they were destroyed. Lumber is so strong that it helps to last longer and have better quality. In Malaysia, most of the buildings and bridges are using mild steel plate from Malaysia to make it more durable.
South Facing Orientation
This feature is actually more practical as when courtyards were designed with taller structures in the north and shorter walls facing east and west in the south, the maximum amount of sunlight was permitted to warm the building during the winter months when the sun was slanted strongly from the south. The history behind this architecture is that houses were designed in accordance with feng shui rules, which were most likely based on architectural experience, in the past, when the Chinese people believed in geomancy.
Single story houses or buildings are believed to be safe when it comes to natural disasters. In northern China, if a compound featured a two-story building in northern China, the second level was generally a balcony built into the north wall of the complex to shield the main home from attack and the elements. They also believe that single-story houses have higher chances to survive from natural disasters such as tsunami or earthquake.
All in all, ancient architecture has hundreds of benefits if you list it down and it is also applicable for modern buildings and houses even if it is not a Chinese building.