Category Archives : Buildings


Traditional Ancient Chinese Architecture vs Modern Buildings of Modern China Architecture – China Travel Guide

In traditional Chinese architecture, every facet of a building was decorated using various materials and techniques. Simple ceiling ornamentations in ordinary buildings were made of wooden strips and covered with paper. More decorative was the lattice ceiling, constructed of woven wooden strips or sorghum stems fastened to the beams. Because of the intricacy of its ornamentation, elaborate cupolas were reserved for the ceilings of the most important structures such as tombs and altars, although it is not clear what the spiritual beliefs of the early Chinese were, as alters appear to have served as burial sites. In traditional Chinese architecture, the layered pieces of the ceiling are held together by interlocking bracket sets.

Elaborate wooden coffers bordered by a round, square, or polygon frame with its brackets projecting inward and upward from its base were used around the 7th century. Deeply recessed panels shaped like a well (square at the base with a rounded top) were fitted into the ceiling’s wooden framework. The center panel of the ceiling was decorated with water lilies or other water plants. The relationship of the name to water has been linked to an ancient fear that wooden buildings would be destroyed by fire and that water  would prevent or quell the fire’s flames.


Ancient Chinese Architecture

Ancient and Traditional Chinese Architecture

Together with European architecture and Arabian architecture, ancient Chinese architecture is an important component of the system of world architecture. During its long development, it gradually formed into a style which featured timberwork combining stone carving, rammed earth construction, bucket arch buildings and many other techniques. Industrious Chinese laboring people created many architectural miracles such as the Great Wall, Forbidden City and the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor.

Chinese Architecture Features: The most significant characteristic of ancient Chinese architecture is the use of timber framework. Paintings and carvings were added to the architectural work to make it more beautiful and attractive. Ancient Chinese buildings have a long history which can be traced back to the Shang Dynasty (16th century BC – 771 BC). It has its own principles of structure and layout. Through the long development, many wonders have been created by industrious and clever Chinese laboring people. Ancient Chinese architectural miracles are innumerable ranging from Great Wall, White Horse Temple, Mogao Caves to Summer Palace and Forbidden City.

Symmetrical layout of a courtyard
Ancient Chinese architecture is mainly timberwork. Wooden posts, beams, lintels and joists make up the framework of a house. Walls serve as the separation of rooms without bearing the weight of the whole house, which is unique to China. As a famous saying goes, ‘Chinese houses will still stand when their walls collapse.’ The specialty of wood requires antisepsis methods to be adopted, thus develops into Chinese own architectural painting decoration. Colored glaze roofs, windows with exquisite applique design and beautiful flower patterns on wooden pillars reflect the high-level of the craftsmen’s handicraft and their rich imagination.
The layout of a courtyard complex is also unique to China. The main structure is located on the central axis of a court while less-important structures are located to the left and right. The whole layout is symmetrical. Compared with European architectural style which is open and shut, a Chinese courtyard is like a hand scroll of painting which should be unfolded little by little. The scenery is different in each courtyard. Even in moving several steps within the court yard, you will be surprised at the changing of prospects. Likewise from the interior of the buildings the view from no two windows is the same.