Home | Info | News | Reading | E-mail | Korean 

 ATA > Chinese Tradition > Beijing Siheyuan

The Spatial Organization of the Bejing Siheyuan Housing 

(Journal of the Architectural Institute of Korea, Vol.13 No.11, November 1997)


The Beijing Siheyuan is a type of traditional Chinese courtyard house notable for its clear hierarchical order. The objective of this paper is to clarify the basic principles underlying this order. The paper is based on surveys of traditional housing sites in Beijing as well as an analysis of the relevant Chinese literature. It argues that two organizational concepts, 'center and axis' and 'spatial contrast' generate the clear and consistent hierarchy of the Beijing Siheyuan and constitute its primary architectural characteristics. It also looks at the spatial composition of the typical Beijing Siheyuan in detail to show how these concepts are reflected in design. Through the study, it is shown that the rich environment in the Beijing Siheyuan, in spite of its simple layout of individual buildings and courtyards, is created by the consistent application of the concepts from the level of site layout to building composition and detailing.