Chinese Architecture and Town Planning, 1500 B.C.-A.D. 1911

Chinese Architecture and Town Planning, 1500 B.C.-A.D. 1911

Chinese Architecture and Town Planning, 1500 B.C.-A.D. 1911

Chinese Architecture and Town Planning, 1500 B.C.-A.D. 1911

Excerpt

A very small book on a very large subject, the architecture of a subcontinent, must have drastic limitations. All that is attempted here is a brief and general introduction to the main tradition of classical Chinese architecture and town-planning, with some reference to the social reality behind it. It can only touch very briefly on anything before 221 B.C., though it would be quite wrong to date Chinese architecture from then. It does not include the varieties of local traditions nor the architecture of outlying parts of China. Save for a brief postscript it omits twentieth century developments, including all that is happening in China today; and it cannot possibly include even all the main examples of the various kinds of building and planning touched upon.

Such an attempt may be justified by the comparative neglect of all the Asian traditions, and of the Chinese tradition in particular, which still prevails in the study of architectural history, and by the few books that have appeared on the subject in English, in comparison for instance, with the number of those on more familiar arts of China, such as painting and ceramics.

Now that the study of architectural history has been quite freed from the motive of eclectic borrowing, let us hope it can be equally freed from an excessive preoccupation with 'our own' traditions, i.e. those of the Greco-Roman Mediterranean onwards to those of Western Europe.

An architect or student of architecture finds his main interest in history in observing the achievements of the past for their own sake; but there is also the stimulus of looking at them as solutions to problems, usually very different ones from our own. The architecture of an unfamiliar culture may be specially stimulating, because a different set of conditions and aims has produced there different solutions and different . . .

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