Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Chinese conception of a house

Traditional Chinese house. From

" The Chinese conception of house and garden is therefore determined by the central idea that the house itself is only a detail forming a part of the surrounding country, like a jewel in its setting, and harmonizing with it. For this reason, all signs of artificiality must be hidden as much as possible, and the rectilinear lines of the walls must be hidden or broken by overhanging branches.
A perfecdy square house, shaped like a magnified piece of brick, is justifiable in a factory building, because it is a factory building where efficiency is the first consideration. But a perfectly square house for a home to live in is an atrocity of the first order. The Chinese conception of an ideal home has been succinctly expressed by a writer in the following manner:
Inside the gate there is a footpath and the footpath must be winding. At the turning of the footpath there is an outdoor screen and the screen must be small. Behind the screen there is a terrace and the terrace must be level. On the banks of the terrace there are flowers and the flowers must be fresh. Beyond the flowers is a wall and the wall must be low. By the side of the wall, there is a pine tree and the pine tree must be old. At the foot of the pine tree there are rocks and the rocks must be quaint. Over the rocks there is a pavilion and the pavilion must be simple. Behind the pavilion are bamboos and the bamboos must be thin and sparse. At the end of the bamboos there is a house and the house must be secluded. By the side of the house there is a road and the road must branch off. At the point where several roads come together, there is a bridge and the bridge must be tantalizing to cross. At the end of the bridge there are trees and the trees must be tall. In the shade of the trees there is grass and the grass must be green.
Above the grass plot there is a ditch and the ditch must be slender. At the top of the ditch there is a spring and the spring must gurgle. Above the spring there is a hill and the hill must
be deep. Below the hill there is a hall and the hall must be square. At the corner of the hall there is a vegetable garden and the vegetable garden must be big. In the vegetable garden
there is a stork and the stork must dance. The stork announces that there is a guest and the guest must not be vulgar. When the guest arrives there is wine and wine must not be declined. During the service of the wine, there is drunkenness and the drunken guest must not want to go home." 
FROM: The Importance of Living. By Lin Yutang. P.267/268 New York, 1937

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