Chinese Civilian Residence
Residential construction in different parts of China is also called civilian residential housing which is a basic type of architecture. Due to the vast expanse of China, the presence of many ethnic groups, different climatic conditions and ways of life, the residences of people in different parts of the country differ in terms of design and style. The most representative civilian residences in China are the Siheyuan of Beijing (bÄi jÄ«ng sì hé yùan åäº¬ååé¢), Cave Dwellings (yáo dòng çªæ´) of the Loess Plateau (huáng tÇ gÄo yuán é»åé«å) northwest China, the Earthen Tower (tÇ lóu åæ¥¼) of Kejia (or Hakka) people (kè jiÄ rén å®¢å®¶äºº) in Fujian (fú jiàn shÄng ç¦å»ºç) and Guangdong provinces (guÇng dÅng shÄng å¹¿ä¸ç), and the Mongolian yurt (méng gÇ bÄo èå¤å ) in Mongolian nationality.
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Siheyuan is a traditional residence that was commonly found throughout Beijing and the northern China. It is a courtyard surrounded by four buildings which are normally positioned along the north-south and east-west axes. The residence is situated in the north of the compound and faces south, mostly consisting of inner and outer yards. The building positioned to the north and facing the south is considered the main house (zhèng fáng æ£æ¿), serving as the living room and bedroom of the owner or head of the family. There are two wing-rooms (xiÄng fáng å¢æ¿) in each side of the east and west, which are for the younger generations. The north-facing houses are generally used for servants or for stacking sundries. The entrance gate, usually painted vermilion and with copper door knockers on it, is usually at the southeastern corner of the compound. Normally, there is a screen wall (yíng bì å½±å£) for privacy inside the gate. All of the rooms around the courtyard have large windows facing onto the yard and small windows high up on the back wall facing out onto the street. The layout of siheyuan represents the character of legitimacy and preciseness of the people in northern China. According to the historical discovery analyses, the Siheyuan residence appeared more than 2,000 years ago.
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Cave Dwellings (çªæ´)
Cave dwellings are mainly distributed in central and west provinces like Henan (hé nán shÄng æ²³åç), Shanxi (shÄn xÄ« shÄng å±±è¥¿ç), and Shaanxi (shÇn xÄ« shÄng éè¥¿ç), where the loess is of great depth. The loess has little seepage and a very strong vertical nature, which provides a very good precondition for the development of cave dwellings. The cave dwelling is cool in summer, warm in winter and saves space. It is a harmonious combination of natural environment and human activities. Traditional cave dwellings are round, which seems dexterous and lively in monotonous loess. Cave dwelling shows the concept that the heaven is round and the earth is square, and the window high on the circular arch can let sunshine go into the cave so that people in the cave can fully enjoy the sunshine. There are three types of cave dwelling, which are earth kiln (tÇ yáo åçª), stone kiln (shí yáo ç³çª) and brick kiln cave dwellings (zhuÄn yáo ç çª).
The Earthen Tower (åæ¥¼)
The Earthen Tower is the residences of Kejia people in Fujian and Guangdong provinces. The ancestor of Kejia people were Han people who migrated to the south from the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River (huáng hé é»æ²³) over 1900 years ago. They built large residences of earthen towers so as to protect their family. One such tower is able to hold a score of families of a whole clan with a total of several hundred people. The towers are round or square in shape, and the round-shaped tower is the most impressive. It is made up of two or three circles of houses. The outer circle could be more than ten meters high, with 100 to 200 rooms. The ground floor is used as kitchens and dinning rooms while the second floor is used for storage. The third and fourth floors are the living quarters and bedrooms. The second circle has two stories with 30 to 50 rooms. They are mostly used as rooms for guests. In the middle there is an ancestral hall with a holding capacity of several hundred people where pubic activities are carried out. Within an earthen tower, there are bathrooms, toilets and a well. The huge size and the unique design of the earthen tower are highly praised by many architects all over the world.
Mongolian yurts (èå¤å
The Mongolian felt tent in northwest China is called Mongolian yurts. The Mongolian yurt is round. The big one can hold six hundred people, and the small one has a capacity of about twenty people. The Mongolian yurt is usually set up in the place where it is suitable for grazing. People always draw a suitable circle at first. And then begin to set up the yurt according to the circle. When it is finished, people decorate the inner of yurt with flowers, carpet or mirrors. Nowadays, there are furniture and household appliances in Mongolian yurt, which make people’s life more comfortable. The emergence of Mongolian yurts is closely related to their nomadic lifestyle. Mongolians always move about to seek new water sources and pastures and the Mongolian yurt can meet their requirements.
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