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.

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 20
Tutorials 10
Fieldwork / Visits 10
Reading / Self-study 50
Assessment: Essay / Report writing 30
Assessment: Presentation (incl preparation) 30
Total: 150

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. (1962). Chinese architecture and town planning: 1500 B.C. – 1911 A.D. London: Alec Tiranti. [Chap. 4 (pp. 75 – 121)] 
  • Han, P. -T. (1992). The story of Chinese landscape design: External forms and internal visions. Taipei: Youth Cultural Enterprise Co.
  • Knapp, R. G. (2005). Chinese houses: The architectural heritage of a nation. Singapore: Tuttle Publication.
  • Knapp, R. G., & Lo, K. -Y. (Eds.) (2005). House, home, family: Living and being Chinese. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
  • Wu, N. I. (Wu No-sun). (1963). Chinese and Indian Architecture: The City of Man, the Mountain of God, and the Realm of the Immortals. New York: George Brasiller.

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
Dr Z. Xu
Department of Architecture, Faculty of Architecture
Tel: 2859 2147
Email: zhuxu@hku.hk