China travel guide


China Travel Guide

Domestic architecture

Domestic architecture Generally, domestic architecture follow the same guiding principles of temple and palace design with curved rooflines, walls around the buildings, mirrors (spirit walls) in the front and external doorways to repulse demons.

Older homes in the whole country preserve these basic features. However, in recent times for practical reasons -mainly the weather the perfect spiritual designs have diminished and local styles with their own distinctiveness have appeared. The most notable differences are between north and south architectures.

In the North of the country, where the climate has very cold winters and hot summers, people have learned to use firmly insulated brick walls, while in the South, where climate is more stable with subtropical temperatures, people have learned to apply open eaves, internal courtyards and wooden lattice screens to let air to circulate.

At some rural zones there are some traditional or unusual types of residential architecture whose differences not only depend on the climate, but most of all, the traditions of their local cultures. Remarkable examples subsist in the mountainous boundary areas between Guizhou and Guangxi provinces, where ethnic Dong and Miao build big wooden houses with the regional cedar.

The Hakka (a Han sub-group) is another ethnic group which still makes distinctive houses: These houses include an immense stone circular clan or family mansions to accommodate hundreds of people. According the tradition, they have their origin on defensive purposes at their Guangdong-Fujian homelands.

Extreme adaptation to local conditions can be founded in Shaanxi Province, where underground houses have been excavated in prehistoric sedimentary soils deposited by the Yellow River; these are fresh in summer and warm in winter.

Few of the traditional urban architecture continue existing and they tend to be less varied. Wood had been an essential part of buildings, but fire, demolition, modernity, and replacement by city authorities have changed the customs of people. Some examples of surviving old town houses can be seen in Beijing, Kunming and Chengdu, but the largest collection of the country are in Yunnan Province by the ethnic Naxi.

In the east, the contiguous area to Tunxi in Anhui Province has entire villages built in the seventeenth-century with the "Huizhou style", consisting of a two-storey house plan built around a courtyard.

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