Features of Ancient Chinese Architecture
Wood Frame Structure
Wood is the main material in ancient Chinese architecture and most of the buildings are in wood frame structure. The wood frame can successfully separate the bearing structure (the wood frame) and the maintaining structure (walls), what’s more, for the special properties, wood can easily adapt to different climates, effectively diminish the destroy of the earthquakes, and more important, it is the material to be find easily on the spot.
Beautiful Appearance and Unique Monomer Shape
The ancient Chinese architecture is beautiful and graceful in appearance with distinctive features. Buildings are usually built in square, round, hexagon and octagon; key architectures are standing on platforms, a grand palace even on a three-layered platform, e.g. the Hall of Supreme Harmony in the Forbidden City.
Rich Artistic Images on Roof
The shapes of the roofs are rich in styles and artistic value. Slopes in four sides, six sides and eight sides are most common; the eaves with kinds of carvings and warp in different ways are usually make a graceful profile of the building; ridges decorated with carvings and ornaments and tiles in colors are also add the artistic value to the roof. The roofs are designed magnificent is not only for the graceful appearance but also for the great practicality that the wide eaves mostly warp upside can prevent the wood structure and platform from the rains.
Rigorous Symmetric Layout
The upright and foursquare layout in rigorous symmetric ways of the ancient Chinese architecture comes from the Confucianism and the traditional Chinese philosophy. A Chinese complex usually consists of numerous monomers, either a larger palace or a quadrangle courtyard. All buildings are facing up to the south except the ones in some ethnic areas that are limited by special landform and topography. In a complex, there is always an axis; main buildings are exactly standing on the axis while secondary buildings are east-west confrontation on the two sides to compose a square or a rectangle courtyard. If one courtyard cannot meet the demands, there are also back yard and side yards built according to the auxiliary axis.
Decorations is particular important in ancient Chinese architecture. The image, color and properties of the fitments and decorations are meticulously chosen to beautify kinds of buildings. Almost every part of the building is well-decorated. The platform and steps equipped with railings and incising; beasts and birds are always set on the shaped eaves; doors and windows are engraved with kinds of colorful images and patterns; even the ceilings are designed into a shaped caisson or decorated formally in traditional patterns. Painting on architecture is a distinctive characteristic as well as an indispensable decoration on formal buildings such as palace and temple, while it is forbidden in civilian houses.
Graceful Gardens with Great Artistic Conceptions
Chinese gardens are built gracefully with great artistic conceptions in three kinds, aspire conception, immortal conception and natural conception. Aspire conceptions are mostly in the royal gardens such as most of the scenes in the Old Summer Palace, which are built according to the Confucian theories in philosophy, politics, virtue and moral principles. Immortal conceptions are in some royal gardens and temple gardens that are built according to the theories of Confucians and Taoists that people can be immortals by ascetic practices. Natural conceptions are usually in private gardens built by scholars who follow the thoughts of Chinese philosophers Laozi and Zhuangzi which thoughts lie in the nature, the balance and integration of human and nature, as well as all creature’s relations.