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Wood, Elisabeth Frances (1983) Domestic Architecture in the Beijing Area, 1860-1930. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis describes the appearance, construction and function of the small courtyard house in the Beijing area, 1860-1930. In the context of Chinese architecture as a whole, domestic architecture is distinguished by its non-regulated nature. It may thus be contrasted with palace and temple buildings which were constructed according to rules of proportion and sumptuary law. The literature, both Western and Chinese, is discussed in Chapter One. In Chapter Two, three houses, whose measurements were taken, are described in detail and the measured drawings included. Three further houses in central Beijing are described to provide further material, relating to the arrangement of the courtyard. Chapter Three lays out the full programme of construction from the purchase of land and hiring of labourers, the terms of contract between owner and foreman of the building workers to., the building process itself. In Chapter Four, various possible determinants of form are discussed, including the principle of enclosure, structural reliance on wood, climate and geomancy and orientation. In Chapter Five, the small house is set in its context for domestic architecture in China also comprises the grander 'mansions' of the rich. All houses, whether large or small, are linked in terms of function but economic position determines the size which, in turn, determines the possiblities of the house. The conclusions relate to the size of the construction, sizes being drawn from the measured houses and literary sources. Though the house is potentially unregulated, the buildings of a small house tend to vary very little in terms of size. This adherence to a 'traditional' norm is contrasted with the strict regulations determining the size and design of grand buildings and it is demonstrated that there is a relationship between grand and small buildings based on aspiration within a tradition.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:21

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