Chinese Architecture Features: The most significant characteristic of ancient Chinese architecture is the use of timber framework. Paintings and carvings were added to the architectural work to make it more beautiful and attractive. Ancient Chinese buildings have a long history which can be traced back to the Shang Dynasty (16th century BC - 771 BC). It has its own principles of structure and layout. Through the long development, many wonders have been created by industrious and clever Chinese laboring people.
Ancient Chinese architecture is mainly timberwork. Wooden posts, beams, lintels and joists make up the framework of a house. Walls serve as the separation of rooms without bearing the weight of the whole house, which is unique to China. As a famous saying goes, 'Chinese houses will still stand when their walls collapse.' The specialty of wood requires antisepsis methods to be adopted, thus develops into Chinese own architectural painting decoration. Colored glaze roofs, windows with exquisite applique design and beautiful flower patterns on wooden pillars reflect the high-level of the craftsmen's handicraft and their rich imagination.
The layout of a courtyard complex is also unique to China. The main structure is located on the central axis of a court while less-important structures are located to the left and right. The whole layout is symmetrical. Compared with European architectural style which is open and shut, a Chinese courtyard is like a hand scroll of painting which should be unfolded little by little. The scenery is different in each courtyard. Even in moving several steps within the court yard, you will be surprised at the changing of prospects. Likewise from the interior of the buildings the view from no two windows is the same.
The following article gives a cursory explanation of traditional Chinese architecture, before the introduction of Western building methods during the early 20th century. Throughout the 20th Century, however, Western-trained Chinese architects have attempted to combine traditional Chinese designs into modern architecture (usually government), with only limited success. Moreover, the pressure for urban development throughout contemporary China required higher speed of construction and higher floor area ratio, which means that in the great cities the demand for traditional Chinese buildings, which are normally less than 3 levels, has declined in favor of modern architecture. However, the traditional skills of Chinese architecture, including major and minor carpentry,masonry, and stonemasonry, are still applied to the construction of vernacular architecture in the vast rural area in China.