CCCH9001 China: Culture, State and Society

Chinese House and Garden: Architecture, Landscape, and Material Culture

[This course is under the thematic cluster of ‘Sustaining Cities, Cultures, and the Earth’.]


Course Description

By looking into the physical significance of Chinese architecture, cities and landscapes, this course introduces theories and principles of Chinese houses and gardens. Through the study of Chinese houses and their settings in a city, it brings out the daily life and social fabric for a Chinese man under Confucian influence. Through the study of Chinese gardens and the literati ideas behind the making of garden, landscape and painting, it introduces the artistic profile for a Chinese intellectual under the influence of Daoism. The course investigates how geography, society and economy, as well as aesthetic and ideology, shape the traditional physical environment in China. It deals with explorations of form and space, technology and material, as well as the ways in which these architectural attributes affect life patterns and values in a traditional society. The course particularly addresses how the culture profile was manifested in the architecture and urban spaces during the late Ming – an era of unique aesthetic orientation cultivated from a distinct stage of social and economic development in Chinese history.

[There will be two compulsory half-day field trips scheduled over the weekend during Reading Week.]

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate understanding of how physical patterns displayed in Chinese architecture and landscape were related to thoughts, values, technology as well as ways of life in Chinese culture.
  2. Explore ways of critical analysis on the relationship between Chinese built forms and landscape, as well as their ideas and social-economical contexts behind.
  3. Demonstrate understanding of how Chinese architecture and landscape are transformed over time, influenced by changes of thoughts, values, technology, and society in large.
  4. Apply the knowledge on the ways in which traditional buildings and landscape respond to and shape cultural values and physical forms in the modern world.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

Second semester (Wed)


Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 22
Tutorials 12
Fieldwork / Visits 10
Reading / Self-study 56
Assessment: Essay / Report writing 40
Assessment: Presentation (incl preparation) 20
Total: 160

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Quizzes 20
Tutorial, lecture and field trip participation 30
Project presentation 20
Final essay 30

Required Reading

  • Boyd, A. C. H. (1962). Chinese architecture and town planning: 1500 B.C.-A.D. 1911. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Keswick, M. (1986). The Chinese garden: History, art & architecture (2nd rev. ed.). London: Academy Editions.
  • Knapp, R. G. (1989). China’s vernacular architecture: House form and culture. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
  • Liang, S., & Fairbank, W. (1984). A pictorial history of Chinese architecture: A study of the development of its structural system and the evolution of its types. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Luo, Q., & He, P. (Eds.). (1999). Gu cheng jin xi: Zhongguo min jian sheng huo fang shi [Living heritage: Vernacular environment in China]. Xianggang: Yong ming tang.
  • Wu, N. I. (1963). Chinese and Indian architecture: The city of man, the mountain of god, and the realm of the immortals. New York: George Brasiller.

Recommended Reading

  • Bussagli, M., Santoro, A., & Mortari Vergara, P. (1989). Oriental architecture (Vol. 2, China, Korea and Japan). New York: Electa/Rizzoli.
  • Chang, C. K., & Blaser, W. (1987). China: Tao in architecture. Basel, Boston: Birkhauster.
  • Knapp, R. G., & Ong, A. C. (2005). Chinese houses: The architectural heritage of a nation. North Clarendon, VT; Singapore: Tuttle.
  • Paine, R. T., & Soper, A. C. (1974). The art and architecture of Japan (2nd ed.). Harmondsworth, UK; Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books.
  • Sickman, L. C. S., & Soper, A. C. (1971). The art and architecture of China (3rd ed.). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
  • Steinhardt, N. S., & China House Gallery. (1984). Chinese traditional architecture. New York: China Institute in America.
  • 李允鉌. (1982). 《華夏意匠》. 香港: 廣角鏡出版社.
  • 梁思成. (2001). 《圖像中國建築史》. 香港: 三聯出版社.
  • 漢寶德. (1982). 《斗栱的起源與發展》. 台北: 境與象出版社.
  • 趙廣超. (2000). 《不只中國木建築》. 香港: 三聯出版社.
  • 劉敦楨. (1979). 《蘇州古典園林》. 北京: 中國建築工業出版社.
  • 劉敦楨. (1984). 《中國古代建築史》. 北京: 中國建築工業出版社.

Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Professor W.J. Wang
Department of Architecture, Faculty of Architecture
Tel: 2548 1274
Email: wjwang@hku.hk
Teacher(s) Contact
Professor W.J. Wang
Department of Architecture, Faculty of Architecture
Tel: 2548 1274
Email: wjwang@hku.hk