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Aspects | Traditional Chinese Architecture

Aspects | Traditional Chinese Architecture

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Published by Edward Lim, P.Eng
Aspects of Traditional Chinese Architecture
Aspects of Traditional Chinese Architecture

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Published by: Edward Lim, P.Eng on Jun 05, 2012
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Aspects of Traditional Chinese Architecture, by Edward Lim, P.Eng Although in recent years China has built a reputation as an innovator in the field of architectural design, the county possesses a long and distinguished history of unique architecture, mostly built from wood, stretching back over 1,000 years. Many of the principles of traditional Chinese architecture combine aspects of Confucianism or Taoism with the practical realities of building design. Bilateral symmetry forms a key aspect of traditional Chinese architecture, and most buildings are built in pairs, employing a square shape for each side. Additional squares are stacked on top of each other in the well-known tiered shape seen in traditional temples across East Asia. Curved roofs became a staple in traditional Chinese architecture for religious reasons. Buddhists believed that these curves helped to protect the inhabitants from malicious spirits. These roofs are covered in curved ceramic tiles, adding another element of symmetry to the design. Structurally, traditional Chinese architecture employs a unique brace system called toukung to support multi-story buildings. Tou-kung consists of wooden brackets, often

elaborately decorated, attached to the top of a pillar and supporting the beam above it. Over time, the decoration of tou-kung became a major stylistic concern in new buildings. As traditional Chinese buildings were made entirely from wood, they were lacquered to prevent decay. A tradition of employing colours and elaborate motives appeared, with symbolic and religious meanings associated. Examples of traditional Chinese architecture exist across East Asia, but Taiwan in particular has done a good job of preserving ancient buildings, with thousands of traditional Buddhist temples scattered across the island. Chinese architecture also spread to other countries, notably North Korea, South Korea, and Japan, and has influenced their local styles. About the Author: Edward Lim, P.Eng., serves as the President of United Building Systems International Corp. He possesses expertise in wood frame engineering and design.

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