Theory
EEM 03 - 02 - 2010

Theory Assignment- Analyzing Chinese Gardens When we were in China, we went through different examples of Chinese Gardens. Of the three gardens that we visited in the cities of Shizou and Shanghai, they all had very similar aspects in both sustainability and in design principle. Our first example was in Shanghai, when we visited the Yu Garden in the middle of the city, and then followed by the lingering garden. In Shizou, we went to visit the net garden which also had many similarities. All were governed by the overture of "fung shui". This design principle requires many openings, sequencing and special organizations to water that touch the human psyche and creates a comfort for people. The gardens all had "cloud like" rock formations that made a view feel as if you were floating; a divine connection between the element water, earth and sky. Bridges over the smaller areas, and walkways from temple to rooms also provided the experience with connections to the nature around it. Moon gate forms and irregular doorways partitioned the spaces, as well as framed unique views from room to room. Everything was compartmentalized with a flow of organic intervention; even the built forms would sometimes ungulate and break the gridded patterns. In all cases, it seemed that building, water and nature all were harmonious; each responding and acknowledging the balance of one another. The result was a surreal experience and an unexplained calming feeling. The differences between the gardens were very subtle. The differences in the geometrical and organic designs found in both windows and in decorative elements seemed more emphasized in Shanghai, and more recessed in the gardens of Shizou. The first Yu garden in Shizou incorporated more elements of narrative, found in the response from the curvature of the walls and the dragon icon above the wall frames. Shizou seemed to be more emphasizing of the nature in the gardens, where as Shanghai was evident that the garden was subordinate to the built form that surrounded it. People seemed to respond more to the nature in Shizou than they did the structural elements of Shanghai; both in their reactions to the space, and in how they seemed to enjoy and move about the area. Each of the three examples showed some interesting, passive design elements of sustainability. The materials of the built form and walls were of wood and plaster; mainly using heavy "timber-like" construction. Open floor plans between the temples, and breakout spaces or "deck spaces" overlooking the water or koi ponds was functioned for passive heating and cooling of the space. The garden's bamboo forests and plant life was sustainable, and the positioning of glazing elements (openings in walls and covers) were situated to keep the direct sunlight out of the temple spaces. Shizou and Shanghai were developed in response to the all elements working harmoniously with a natural, sustainable intent to the design that occurred naturally as a result. The first image shows a garden at Shizou, where the vegetation is predominate, and the second image shows a sketch from the garden at Shizou where it is evident that the built formation is dominate to the landscape. Both, however, retain the same elements as described.

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