Carnegie Mellon University
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The gramatical basis of chinese traditional architecture

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journal contribution
posted on 1995-01-01, 00:00 authored by Ramesh Krishnamurti, Shang-chia Chiou
China has a history that is documented over four thousand years with a rich cultural tradition and a large land mass. From archeological evidence, Chinese traditional architecture may be traced back at least seven thousand years[14]. The Chinese nation is made up of over fifty different nationalities. Despite this rich history and marked diversity of architecture in the various regions in China, Chinese traditional buildings are highly grammatical. Architectural historians have classified Chinese traditional architecture, along geographically determined boundaries, into several categories, for example, the Northern style, the Southern style, and so on. These different styles share some basic characteristics. Wong and Chung[18]identify continuity, uniqueness of style, and diversity in architectural design as the three fundamental characteristics; according to them, traditional architecture in China has managed to follow an unbroken line of development. Based on the needs of the people, and assimilating beneficial experiences and influences from various source, it has evolved independently with its own tenor from beginning to end. It is this very continuity, independence and adaptability that constitute the characteristics of the classical traditional. A parametric shape grammar[15, 16]for the Southern style of Chinese traditional dwellings has been presented in [3]. In this paper we outline some of the considerations for developing a grammar of Chinese architecture ranging from orientation to a framework of spatial organization that exemplifies axial planning and modular design and concluding with a description of some of the main rules of composition


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Reprinted from Languages of Design FORMALISMS FOR WORD, IMAGE AND SOUND



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