Styles of Chinese ancient architecture are rich and varied, such as temples, imperial palaces, altars,
pavilions, official residencies and folk houses, which greatly reflect Chinese ancient thought - the
harmonious unity of human beings with nature.
Since ancient times, Chinese culture has been heavily influenced by conservative philosophies like
Confucianism, Taoism etc. Over the centuries, the structural principles of Chinese architecture have
remained largely unchanged, the main changes being on the decorative details.
Traditional Chinese buildings are always found in pairs or groups, whether they are residences, temples or
palaces. Traditional Chinese architecture, unlike that of other cultures, uses wood-frame construction as
one of its most distinctive features.
THE CHARACTER AND
MEANING OF CLASSICAL
THE AXIAL CITY PLAN AND
• One of the great religious beliefs that
influenced the design of the classical
Chinese city and Chinese architecture
is Confucianism. In order to create a
stable social order, Confucianism
established the strict doctrines putting
the society in order with rules and filial
THE MODULAR SYSTEM
• One of the basic principles of classical
Chinese buildings is the USE OF A
MODULE, much like the modular
concept of prefabrication in
• Traditional Chinese carpenters used
“JIAN” – a structured bay as a
standard unit to construct all
buildings. “Jian” was a rectangular
space marked by adjacent structural
frames. “Jian”, as the basic interior
unit, can be expanded or repeated
along the architectural plan axis to
join together to create a hall, then a
• Odd numbers of Jian are allowed.
Even numbers are considered unlucky.
THE EXPOSED STRUCTURE
• In ancient China, almost all of the
main structures of classical Chinese
architecture were made of wood.
Thus, the art of traditional Chinese
architecture may be seen as the
aesthetic of wood.
1) Renzi Xuan Shan
2) Renzi Yin Shan
3) Juan Peng
4) Lu Ding
6) Xie Shan
7) Conical Cuan Jian
8) Pyramidial Cuan Jian
9) Renzi with Parapet Wall
METHOD OF CONSTRUCTION
Pillars and Beam
Pillar and Transverse Tie Beam
Qi(气), the energy of the universe, is
carried in the wind and retained within
water. Both elements were used as a way of
Feng shui is not only a practice that is
related to physical space, but also to the
inhabitants of the space itself, as both are
The goal of feng shui guidelines is to locate
and orient dwellings, possessions, land and
landscaping, etc., so as to be attuned with
the flow of qi.
YIN AND YANG
• Fundamental to feng shui is the idea
that yin and yang are the two basic
principles underlying all matter and
energy in the universe. These forces are
opposites, but are not in opposition.
Rather, they are complementary and
need each other to exist and flourish.
The constantly changing interactions of
yin and yang give rise to the infinite
variety of patterns in life.
• Widely used in Taoism Architecture.
The bagua (or pa kua) of the I Ching (Book of Changes) is an octagonal diagram used in feng shui analysis. Each direction on the octagon (north,
northeast, etc.) is associated with certain significant aspects. When one maps the bagua onto a home, village, cemetery, etc., information about
correct orientation and placement can allegedly be gleaned.
• Buddhism was introduced to China from
India around the first century AD, since the
fourth century AD, it was widely spread
and gradually became the most influential
religion in China.
• Because of varied introduction time and
channel as well as regional, historic and
social backgrounds, Buddhism in China is
divided into three branches, namely
Chinese Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism and
• Pagoda, symbol of Buddhism is often
erected in temples.
• Pagodas were made of stone, wood, colored
glaze or metal.
• Pagodas have an odd number of layers.
Seven-layer and Nine-layer pagodas are
• The shape of cross-section is rectangular,
eight-sided or even circular.
• Initially, the pagoda served as the central
axis alongside which rows of halls and
monks' rooms spread out.Later, pagodas
were built near the main palace hall.
• Chinese pagodas, in short, are a significant
part of the country's cultural heritage -with
their beautiful shapes, bas-relief carvings,
dougong brackets and upturned eaves.
• Grotto, another type of Buddhist
architecture, is often chiseled into cliffs. In
the 3rd century, Chinese Buddhists began
to build grottoes and Xinjiang is the first
area where grottoes were hewn.
• Grottoes are decorated with painted
sculptures, carvings and frescos.
• Craftsmen revealed real life pictures and
their understanding of society in these art
works, which gave them great historical
and cultural value.
• The four famous grottoes in China are:
Mogao Caves, Longmen Grottoes,
Yungang Grottoes and Maiji Caves.
• Buddhist temples tend to be decorated in
red or black, and there is a main hall for a
statue of a Bodhisattva, followed by a
smaller hall with statues of other Buddha's
• Buddhist Temples are called Miao
• Stupas appeared in China with the import of
Buddhism and, during a long history of
well over a thousand years, have become a
valued part of the national Buddhist art.
• Stupa, a word from ancient Sanskrit
meaning a square or round tomb or a 'soul
• The perfect proportions of the Buddha’s
body corresponds to the design of religious
monuments - STUPAS
• Its architecture developed from the pre-
Buddhist Indian grave-mound.
• Under these mounds the saintly ascetic
were buried; their bodies were seated on the
ground and covered with earth.
• These dome-shaped graves, or tumuli, of
the saints were regarded as holy places.
• And were destinations for pilgrimage for
the devotional and places of practice for
• Lama Temples are Buddhism temple
found in Tibet.
• It is where the seat of the Dalai Lama
• Confucius (551-479 BC) established the
Confucian school of thought around 500
BC, during China's Spring and Autumn
• Confucianism became one of the pillars of
Chinese culture, and was named China's
official state ideology around 100 BC,
during the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD)
by Emperor Han Wudi, who reigned from
• Confucian ideology was the core of feudal
China's hierarchical social system.
• Traditional courtyard residences drew strict
distinctions between interior and exterior,
superior and inferior, and male and female;
internal affairs and external affairs, the
honorable (master) and humble (maid)
• The compounds were enclosed and isolated
from the outside world, and serving as
material expressions of Confucian ideology.
• The chinese quadrangle buildings (known
as “Si He Yuan") was highly influenced by
• Taoism is a religion native to China.
Laozi, a famous thinker living in 6th
Century BC, established this philosophy
and came to be regarded as the father of
• It formed mainly during Eastern Han
Dynasty (25-220). Many Taoist ideas and
thoughts are greatly reflected in Taoist
• Taoist architecture applies two architectural
styles - traditional style and Ba-gua style.
• In the traditional style, traditional
architectural layout, which is symmetric,
• The second is the Bagua style in which all
structures surround the Danlu (stove to
make pills of immortality) in the center
according to Bagua's position request.
• A Statue of Dragon and Lion guards the
gates of a Taoist temple;
• In the main hall, the four Heavenly
Emperors in Taoism replace the Buddha
trinity and four Heavenly Kings in
QIN LING TOMB
• The Mausoleum of the First Qin
Emperor. This mausoleum was
constructed over 38 years, from 246 to
208 BCE, and is situated underneath a
76-meter-tall tomb mound.
• A terracotta army guards the complex.
• Situated in the heart of Beijing, the
Forbidden City is the world's largest
palace complex. It has lavishly
decorated ceremonial halls and royal
palaces. All the gates, palace and
other structures of the Forbidden City
were arranged about the north-south
central axis of old Beijing
GREAT WALL OF CHINA
The Great Wall of China is a series of
stone and earthen fortifications built by a
number of emperors to protect the
northern borders against nomadic tribes.
TEMPLE OF HEAVEN
Temple of Heaven is not a single building
but a complex located in the southern
end of central Beijing.
The temple was used by the emperor to
make offerings to the heaven and to prey
for a good harvest.
Situated 13 Km northwest of central
Beijing, the Summer Palace is one of the
largest, best preserved, and most
interesting royal gardens in the world.
CLASSIFICATION BY STRUCTURES
Lou- Multistory Buildings
Ge- Multistory Pavillion
Xuan- Verandas with Windows
Xie- Pavilions or Houses in Terraces
Wu- Rooms along roofed corridors