Chinese architecture residences.
China is a country with a long history, a rich cultural tradition and an ancient civilization. On this land, our ancestors left us an abundance of splendid, time-honored architectural legacy, which has undergone thousands of years of development to become a distinct part of world architectural history.
In prehistoric times, dwellings were crude, and tended to be similar in design the world over; they differed only in the availability of local building materials and the topography they had to adapt to. As the techniques of production improved, the styles of clothing, cuisine, transportation, etc. of different peoples gradually took on their own national colors and cultural characteristics. The same was true for the shelters that people built to dwell in, and a wide diversity of styles formed all over the world. Chinese residences, in particular, occupy a unique place in the history of world architecture.
Major Styles of Traditional Chinese Residences
Traditional Chinese residences reflect the national culture, the sub-culture of a specific region and that of the ethnic group within it.
The traditional domestic architecture of China has five major styles. There is the compound with a courtyard (si he yuan) to be seen in northern China, Farmers' Caves (yao dong) in Northern Shaanxi Province and Earthen Buildings (tu lou) in southeast China's Fujian province, Stilt houses that may be on steep inclines or projecting over water (diao jiao lou) in southern China and the Seal-like Compound (yi ke yin) in Yunnan province.
As well as their respective features, traditional residences tend to conform to their environment and to become integrated with it. They are expected to blend with the surrounding rivers and mountains, thus complimenting but never spoiling the natural beauty.
Our ancestors made use of local materials and took the natural factors into consideration whenever they built a house.
The Si he yuan in northern China features a thick roof and walls and a wide courtyard to draw in maximum sunlight while ventilation is a prime feature of the diao jiao lou in the much warmer tropical climate of southern China.
The Si he yuan in Beijing reflects the formal royal ambiance with its symmetrical style while garden-residences such as the famous Garden of the Master of the Nets in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, gives priority to a harmonious blend with nature. Prince Gong's Mansion in Beijing is the world's largest Si he yuan.
Si He Yuan vary substantially in different locations. For details, please refer to: Beijing's Hutong and Courtyard , Qiao's Compound , and Wang's Compound in Pingyao, Shanxi and Dang Village in Hancheng around Xian, Shaanxi Province.
In calligraphy, the Chinese characters with a roof-like component relate to various houses. For example, with a pig, it is a home; with a cow, it is a prison; with a combination of two mouths it means 'many houses' - it is palace. Such characters combined with that for ' woman' imply peace and safety. The logic behind this is based on two layers of meaning. Firstly, when a woman sits peacefully at home, it means there is no war. Secondly, when they lived in simple caves in open air, our ancestors faced the hazards of bad weather, wild animals and hostile tribes. By building houses, they were better protected, thus there was safety.
For a comprehensive understanding of the different forms of Chinese residence, well preserved old towns and types of ethnic residence, please refer to:
Nine Types of Residential Houses Chinese People Live In
Ancient Residence in Huangshan, Anhui
Ci Qi Kou (Porcelain Village)in Chongqing
Feng Huang Cheng (Phoenix Town) around Zhangjiajie in Hunan Province
Langde Miao Ethnic Minority Village and Zhenyuan Ancient Town Qingyan Ancient Town in Kaili, Guizhou Province
Luzhi Town, Tongli Town and Zhouzhuang around Suzhou, Jiangsu Province
in Shigatse, Tibet
Residential Houses and Old Town in Lijiang, Yunnan Province
Shi Ku Men in Shanghai is a combination of eastern and western architectural styles featuring traditional grey brick door lintels with a western style of decorative engravings on the walls.
Wuzhen in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province
Yan's Compound of Bai Minority in Xizhou , Dali, Yunnan Province