JLL 03 - 09 - 2010

When on tour in China the tradition of Feng Shui came into tours quite frequently. More than one tour guide explained the orientation or design of a building according to its Feng Shui. Although many are familiar with the concept, most would be amazed at how influential Feng Shui is to the modern architecture in and around China today. Developed over 3,000 years ago in China, Feng Shui is an ancient cultural art. The words "feng" and "shui" translate to "wind" and "water". In Chinese culture wind and water are associated with good health and fortune, thus the art of Feng Shui aims to bring luck and fortune or "chi". Perhaps the most noticeable design was that of a residential building on Repulse Bay in Hong Kong, China. The building was located between the bay and a mountain. While water is believed to be a positive influence on Feng Shui, blocking a mountain from the water is not (it is believed that all mountains have a dragon living inside and blocking the dragon's egress would be unlucky and unwise.) The building responds accordingly; providing a large window through which the mountain and sea remain connected. Another building in Hong Kong, the HSBC Building is believed to have some of the best Feng Shui in Hong Kong. The building sits on five roads believed to be "dragon lines" which bring prosperity and commands an open view of the harbor in Hong Kong. Most prominent are the "guns" on top of the tower. Aimed at the Bank of China, these cranes were placed so in order to combat the bad Feng Shui of the I.M. Pei building across the street. In Shanghai the People's Plaza holds several examples of Feng Shui design. The Shanghai Museum is perfectly symmetrical and resembles a Chinese cooking pot. This building sits directly across from government headquarters. This building is flanked by two buildings: the Grand Theatre and the Exhibition Hall. It is said that these buildings represent a lion and a dragon respectively. These figures bring protection and wealth to the central government building located between them. Feng Shui also influences landscape design. The winding paths and halls of the Lingering Garden in Souzhou stop the "chi" from flowing too quickly through the garden. Water features symbolize prosperity in the garden and a mix of light and dark brings balance to the area. The concept of Feng Shui certainly influences the budget and design of buildings today. Owners and architects pay large sums for just a few hours of a Feng Shui master's time. It is amazing that after so many years, a tradition like this influences so much design. S

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