The spatial organisation and socio-cultural basis of traditional courtyard houses
The thesis presents a critical analysis of the physical, social and
cultural determinants of the traditional Chinese courtyard house. A
number of factors which contributed to the stability of the form
and spatial arrangement of the courtyard house in traditional China
Early chapters examine the physical and broad social influences
upon the form of the courtyard house and explain the different
forms of spatial organisation. The discussion then centres on the
importance of the Chinese family system and how it was reflected in
the spatial arrangement within the house form.
The symbol system related to Chinese houses is then considered,
paying particular attention to its development from prehistoric
China to the Han Dynasty and thereafter, including the concept of
Ch'i and the cosmic framework of the Chinese people, which laid the
basis for Yang Chai Theory. Ideal residential environments according
to the two main Schools of Yang Chai Theory are then described.
An example of how the various physical and socio-cultural factors
are embodied in an actual courtyard house from the traditional
period, taking into account the various elements of Yang Chai
Theory, is then illustrated and analysed.
The courtyard house reached its demise with the transformation of
Chinese societies from agricultural to industrial, as social values
and family structure were adjusted to suit the new life-styles.
Nevertheless, Yang Chai Theory remains strongly embedded in Chinese
culture. The thesis concludes with a discussion of how its components
are taken into consideration even nowadays in the forming of