climate should be considered in building design for energy-efficiency
and environmental protection, and there are many helpful practices
that are climate-responsive in traditional folk houses.
Courtyard building style, also known as “Siheyuan”,
has a long history in Chinese architecture. 'Si(sih, 四)' means 'Four',
which here refers to the four sides: east, west, north and south.
'He(huh, 合)' refers to the surrounding, meaning the four sides connect
into a square. There is normally only one gate, so when the gate
is closed the courtyard disconnects with the outside world, leaving
the family with utter tranquility and joyous peace.
of the existing courtyards are relics of the Ming (1368 - 1644)
and Qing (1644 - 1911) Dynasties. The ancient furniture, fish pond,
wooden doors and windows, and cane chairs remind you of their flourishing
past. Those flashed bricks, Chinese eaves and cornices, fine brick
designs, and wood carvings, reveal a strong classical tone of old
Beijing. Many would tell you that you cannot fully understand Beijing
until you have lived in the courtyards. Siheyuan offer good ventilation,
natural light, space, comfort and quiet privacy. It is also good
for security as well as protection against dust and storms.
SMART DESIGN OF THE SIHEYUAN HOME:
- Natural Daylighting
The main room is situated on the north side facing south into the
courtyard, allowing maximum daylight into the room. The roof eaves
above are purposefully high, the window sills below short and the
depth of every room limited so that daylight reaches right to the
back of the spaces.
Water Catchment and Infiltration
Rainwater is directed through the gutter system into storage cisterns
while courtyard pavers are made of a semi-pervious stone tiles to
enable water to naturally infiltrate into the ground.
Passive Temperature Control
Mortar is applied on the ceiling followed by a thick layer of clay/soil
above and then covered with roof tiles. Together this provides insulation
to keep rooms warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
family also maintains a large grape vine in the main courtyard as
their main outdoor shading device.
Venture into a Siheyuan shortly before
dumpling time on a Sunday, and do not
expect to leave sober
Narrow rooms fill with natural daylight
has 33 historic cultural districts. The one Yang Xin is
developing is called "West 4 Historic Culture Protection
Area" (西四历史文化保护区). It is 350,000 sqm,
includes 8 alleys (hutong) and has remained almost unchanged
700 years since the Yuan Dynasty. Yang Xin has assembed
a number of foreign design firms specializing in historic
architecture to preserve and restore the community's buildings
while simultaneously incorporating modern structures to
revitalize the area.
gather outside for a game of majong
and take meals here when the weather is pleasant
Rainwater is captured by cisterns for
use in the courtyard garden