Traditional Chinese Residence

Courtyard, Wang's Compound, Pingyao
A Courtyard of Wang's Compound, Pingyao
 Wang's Compound Pictures
Traditional Chinese residences reflect the national culture, the sub-culture of a specific region and that of the ethnic group within it. The traditional domestic architecture of China has five major styles. 

 Courtyards in Beijing (Siheyuan) or compounds with courtyards in northern China
 Farmers' Caves (Yaodong) in Northern Shaanxi Province
 Earthen Buildings of Hakkas (Tulou) in southeast China's Fujian Province
 Seal-like Compound (Yikeyin) in Yunnan province
 Stilt Houses (Diaojiaolou) on steep inclines or projecting over water in southern China

As well as their respective features, traditional residences tend to conform to their environment and to become integrated with it. They are expected to blend with the surrounding rivers and mountains, thus complimenting but never spoiling the natural beauty. Our ancestors made use of local materials and took the natural factors into consideration whenever they built a house.

The Si he yuan in northern China features a thick roof and walls and a wide courtyard to draw in maximum sunlight while ventilation is a prime feature of the diao jiao lou in the much warmer tropical climate of southern China.
Farmers' Cave, Northern Shaanxi Province
Farmers' Cave, Northern Shaanxi Province
 Farmers' Caves Pictures
Seal-like Compound in Yunnan Province
Seal-like Compound in Yunnan Province
 Yan's Compound Pictures
The Si he yuan in Beijing reflects the formal royal ambiance with its symmetrical style while garden-residences such as the famous Garden of the Master of the Nets in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, gives priority to a harmonious blend with nature. Prince Gong's Mansion in Beijing is the world's largest Si he yuan. Si He Yuan vary substantially in different locations. For details, please refer to: Beijing's Hutong and Courtyard , Qiao's Compound and Wang's Compound in Pingyao, and Dang Village in Hancheng around Xi'an of Shaanxi Province.

In calligraphy, the Chinese characters with a roof-like component relate to various houses. For example, with a pig, it is a home; with a cow, it is a prison; with a combination of two mouths it means 'many houses' - it is palace. Such characters combined with that for ' woman' imply peace and safety. The logic behind this is based on two layers of meaning. Firstly, when a woman sits peacefully at home, it means there is no war. Secondly, when they lived in simple caves in open air, our ancestors faced the hazards of bad weather, wild animals and hostile tribes. By building houses, they were better protected, thus there was safety.
Chinese Folk Residence in a Water Town, Southern China
Chinese Folk Residence in Luzhi Water Town
 Luzhi Town Pictures
Stilt Houses in Guizhou Province
Stilt Houses in Guizhou Province
 Guizhou Pictures
Chinese folk residence appears in different forms. Around Suzhou in Jiangsu Province, there are many well preserved old towns such as Luzhi Town, Tongli Town and Zhouzhuang. The peaceful atmosphere in these towns attracts numerous visitors to come for relaxation and refreshment. The unique ethnic residences are really eye openers. In Guizhou Province, Langde Miao Ethnic Minority Village is a fascinating place to discover the unique Miao's builing - "Diaojiaolou" (stilt-houses). Visit these beautiful places, you will know more about the colorful Chinese architecture.
- Last updated on Aug. 08, 2022 -
Questions & Answers on Traditional Chinese Residence
Asked by Vanessa from USA | May. 16, 2016 15:39Reply
My friend and I are traveling to Shanghai, Hangzhou, Yangzhou this fall.
We would like to visit a traditional Chinese house with courtyard (Siheyuan).
Are those only in northern China, or will we be able to see this near where we are planning to go?
Thank you.
Answers (1)
Answered by Ivan from USA | May. 17, 2016 03:57

I'm afraid you can only see the authentic courtyard in Beijing. However, there are still distinctve buildings in these cities, such as Shikumen buildings in Shanghai and private gardens in Hangzho and Yangzhou. These are also worth to see. Have fun!
Asked by chan wei nee from MALAYSIA | Sep. 12, 2011 05:22Reply
I wold like to visit a Hakka village in China. where is the best place to go?
I am from Malaysia. Planning to visit my ancestral origin of Hakka people in China. The village as I understood is famous for its houses architecture of UFO which is called Tu Lou. I understand that the nearest province to the village is Fujian or Xiamen? Any tour agencies organise such tours? Besides the village any interesting places to visit?
Answers (1)
Answered by andrew from CHINA | Sep. 12, 2011 23:18

Xiamen is a city in Fujian Province. Yes, you can go to xiamen first and then it is about 4 hours by bus to the tu lou buildings in Longyan City.
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