Architecture, not only provides us a stable space for survival but also represents our unique cultural identity.
The meaning of architecture
In the very early society, people create architecture for the purpose of shelter such as getting away from the rain, defense for the enemies. Just like some animals make nests only for survival while neglecting the decoration for the nests. Time passed, with further development, people gradually have the subjective initiative in aesthetic guidance and standard. However, the cultural ideology and regional environment limit the development of architecture and form its locality and tradition, which demonstrates cultural concepts and specific lifestyles to some extent.
From a global perspective, the architecture in the East such as Chinese architecture is quite different from the Western architecture represented by the European and American.
Architecture style classification
Architecture around the world can be categorized into many types: Chinese style，Japanese style, Singaporean style, British style, French style, American style, etc. What’s more, they can be classified according to different regions which have similar features. For example, European style, Western-style, Mediterranean style, Australian style, African style, Latin American style, etc.
The difference between ancient Chinese architecture and western architecture
Materials are the essence of architecture. The easiest way to see the difference among architectures around the world is to discover the difference in building materials.
Characteristics of building materials in ancient western buildings：
From the very early times, the architecture development in the west has been very systematic and styled. For example, the pyramids of Egypt, the temples of ancient Greece, the Colosseum, the aqueduct of ancient Rome, the churches of medieval Europe...All these western buildings including Indian architectures they have all presented the masonry structure system and the main materials of these architectures are stones.
Characteristics of ancient Chinese building materials:
Unlike Western architecture, Chinese buildings in ancient times are more likely to be built with wooden materials.
The use of civil engineering as materials determines the development direction of China's construction technology and structure.
This kind of civil and wood-based architecture has been inherited since the end of Chinese primitive society and has influenced the architectural style of neighboring countries such as Japan and North Korea.
Explanations for the difference
The different understanding of building materials
In the Myth of the West, stone plays an important role in the story-telling. The heroes who owe the superpower are related with stones. In The Deluge, the human is created through stones. Western people considered stones as “Stability” “Perfection” “Eternity”
Besides, the use of stone is connected with religious factors in Western culture. The eternity and perfection of the stone represent the soul immortality and transcendence which are the pursuit by people in religious society. Just like the great French writer Victor Marie Hugo once said: There is no important thought of mankind that is not written on stone by architectural art.
However, in ancient times of Chinese society, five elements
“ Gold”, “Wood”, “Water,” “Fire”, and “Earth”. These five elements have different meanings, only the implied meaning of “Earth” and “Wood” is welcomed in living because it is close to nature in ancient Chinese philosophy. Therefore, the “Earth” and “Wood” are related to building materials.
In Chinese construction, a variety of cornices are constructed by using the overlapping curved wood that the “arch” will hold up the eaves. Therefore, only tough materials like wood are suitable for the needs of shaping bucket arches. Wood is more suitable for use in forms like cornices than stone.
The development of architecture experiences a long course in the history around the world and the great change occurs in modern times while we should know the origin of these difference for better understanding.
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