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Chinese
Architecture
With their curved roofs, brilliantly
painted wall and pillars and strange
carvings , and odd details like free-
standing g...
Moonlight and Breeze Pavilion, Suzhou
Temple of Heaven, Beijing
Typical Ancient Chinese Gate
However, the real differences
between Chinese and Western
architecture are not aesthetic, but
structural.
Since the most ancient times,
times, architecture in China has
had certain definite
characteristics.
Reconstruction, Banpo Village, Yangshao Culture
Cross-section of a hut from Banpo village
Notice ---
• Columns support the
roof.
• Walls are merely
enclosing screens
• Roof overhangs the
walls
The Neolithic hut (which could be round,
rectangular or square) was also sunk a
meter into the ground and approached by
st...
Note how the Neolithic hut resembles
the Temple of Heaven.
• Neolithic period. • Ming Dynasty.
Temple of Heaven
• Columns support
the roof
• Walls are merely
enclosing screens
• Roof overhangs the
walls.
This type of building, in which the roof
is supported by pillars, ‘tied’ with cross-
beams and topped by a further cross-
...
Reproduction house, Plymouth
plantation
In China, however, by the Han
Dynasty, this seemingly simple
type of structure was being used
for monumental buildings,
es...
The Han Dynasties multi-storied
buildings made of wood have
long since been been burnt to the
ground ...
We have only models, rubbings, and
descriptive poems.
• Han farmhouse Han palace gate
Five Dynasty, Sui and Tang Dynasty
wooden buildings were also mostly
destroyed, in the great persecutions
against Buddhism...
Horyu-ji, Nara, Japan
The curve of the roof really
developed by Tang times.
Besides being aesthetically attractive, this curve:
• Helped prevent the roof tiles from sliding off.
• Had a slight lift ...
Slight roof curves are seen in
both the Nanchansi in Wutaishan,
Shanzi, as well as the Foguangsi,
also at Wutaishan, two T...
Nanchansi.
Sketch of Foguangsi
The roof curve was made
possible because the Chinese
‘beam-frame’ construction used
for roofs could be made to take
any sh...
This is not possible with the rigid
rectangular truss used in Western
roofs.
• Chinese Western
These curved roofs were
supported by brackets on top of
the pillars that are part of the
structure of post and beam
constr...
These brackets became very decorative.
• Brackets of Foguangsi, shown in detail.
Another important part of the
building was called the ang. The
ang was a slanting curved arm,
reaching out under the eaves...
Ang construction changes over time.
• 1. Tang 2. Sung 3. Yuan 4. Ming 5. Qing
As, indeed, styles of buildings change over time.
• Qianqing Hall, Forbidden City, Ming Dynasty
Architect: Li Zuyuan 1990
And now, just as Western architecture has come to China ..
• Great Hall of the People, Beijing
Chinese architects affect other
parts of the world.
• Louvre, pyramid, architect: I.M. Pei
Chinese Architecture
Chinese Architecture
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Chinese Architecture

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How to understand traditional Chinese architecture.

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Chinese Architecture

  1. 1. Chinese Architecture
  2. 2. With their curved roofs, brilliantly painted wall and pillars and strange carvings , and odd details like free- standing gates and round doors, nothing could look more alien to Western eyes than traditional Chinese buildings -- more ‘picturesque’; more ‘exotic’; representative of a culture that is nothing like ours.
  3. 3. Moonlight and Breeze Pavilion, Suzhou
  4. 4. Temple of Heaven, Beijing
  5. 5. Typical Ancient Chinese Gate
  6. 6. However, the real differences between Chinese and Western architecture are not aesthetic, but structural.
  7. 7. Since the most ancient times, times, architecture in China has had certain definite characteristics.
  8. 8. Reconstruction, Banpo Village, Yangshao Culture
  9. 9. Cross-section of a hut from Banpo village
  10. 10. Notice --- • Columns support the roof. • Walls are merely enclosing screens • Roof overhangs the walls
  11. 11. The Neolithic hut (which could be round, rectangular or square) was also sunk a meter into the ground and approached by steps. It would be made of wattle and daub. These were not characteristics of buildings of later times; however, like buildings of later times, the ancient home would always face south, and would use pise (stamped earth) for a foundation.
  12. 12. Note how the Neolithic hut resembles the Temple of Heaven. • Neolithic period. • Ming Dynasty.
  13. 13. Temple of Heaven • Columns support the roof • Walls are merely enclosing screens • Roof overhangs the walls.
  14. 14. This type of building, in which the roof is supported by pillars, ‘tied’ with cross- beams and topped by a further cross- beam structure (which carries the roof) is called post and beam construction. It is not unknown in the West, but here it was used mostly for simple structures, such as the homes the first North American colonists built.
  15. 15. Reproduction house, Plymouth plantation
  16. 16. In China, however, by the Han Dynasty, this seemingly simple type of structure was being used for monumental buildings, especially for palaces.
  17. 17. The Han Dynasties multi-storied buildings made of wood have long since been been burnt to the ground ...
  18. 18. We have only models, rubbings, and descriptive poems. • Han farmhouse Han palace gate
  19. 19. Five Dynasty, Sui and Tang Dynasty wooden buildings were also mostly destroyed, in the great persecutions against Buddhism. However, we have some examples of what Tang architecture was like in stone, as well as wooden copies that survive from Japan, from that period.
  20. 20. Horyu-ji, Nara, Japan
  21. 21. The curve of the roof really developed by Tang times.
  22. 22. Besides being aesthetically attractive, this curve: • Helped prevent the roof tiles from sliding off. • Had a slight lift at the corners that helped to accommodate the bracketing required to support the overhang of the eaves at the corners.
  23. 23. Slight roof curves are seen in both the Nanchansi in Wutaishan, Shanzi, as well as the Foguangsi, also at Wutaishan, two Tang wooden buildings that did survive.
  24. 24. Nanchansi.
  25. 25. Sketch of Foguangsi
  26. 26. The roof curve was made possible because the Chinese ‘beam-frame’ construction used for roofs could be made to take any shape by varying the height and position of the queenposts on which the purlins sit.
  27. 27. This is not possible with the rigid rectangular truss used in Western roofs. • Chinese Western
  28. 28. These curved roofs were supported by brackets on top of the pillars that are part of the structure of post and beam construction.
  29. 29. These brackets became very decorative. • Brackets of Foguangsi, shown in detail.
  30. 30. Another important part of the building was called the ang. The ang was a slanting curved arm, reaching out under the eaves that was used a lever bridging the two sets of bracketing.
  31. 31. Ang construction changes over time. • 1. Tang 2. Sung 3. Yuan 4. Ming 5. Qing
  32. 32. As, indeed, styles of buildings change over time. • Qianqing Hall, Forbidden City, Ming Dynasty
  33. 33. Architect: Li Zuyuan 1990
  34. 34. And now, just as Western architecture has come to China .. • Great Hall of the People, Beijing
  35. 35. Chinese architects affect other parts of the world. • Louvre, pyramid, architect: I.M. Pei

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