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Architectural Intent and Its Vernacular Process

A Morphological Study of the Spatial Planning Concept in Traditional Settlements and Courtyard Houses in Huizhou, China



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Architectural Intent and Its Vernacular Process by Haofeng Wang
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This dissertation, "Architectural Intent and Its Vernacular Process: a Morphological Study of the Spatial Planning Concept in Traditional Settlements and Courtyard Houses in Huizhou, China" by Haofeng, Wang, 王浩鋒, was obtained from The University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong) and is being sold pursuant to Creative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License. The content of this dissertation has not been altered in any way. We have altered the formatting in order to facilitate the ease of printing and reading of the dissertation. All rights not granted by the above license are retained by the author. Abstract: Abstract of thesis entitled Architectural Intent and Its Vernacular Process A morphological study of the spatial planning concept in traditional settlements and courtyard houses in Huizhou, China Submitted by WANG HaoFeng for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy at The University of Hong Kong October 2006 The fact that Chinese vernacular architecture is full of architectural intent leads to a paradox when distinguishing architecture as built form imbued with deliberate abstract thought against the "vernacular." While the pervasive presence of architectural ideas in the vernacular tends to nullify the conventionally understood dichotomy, it is less clear as to what extent the existence of such ideas in routine building production processes could legitimize the results as "architecture." This study attempts to address this issue by examining the vernacular built environments in Huizhou, China, where the contradiction between architecture and the vernacular is characteristically manifested by two kinds of architectural intent - the imprint of lineage structure in village layout; and the embodiment of social order in domestic building. The major objective of the study is to clarify how far architectural thought has been a determinant in the examined vernacular built forms, and thus to obtain a better understanding of the vernacular in terms of the presence or absence of architectural thoughts. The study adopts a perspective that sees the production of vernacular settlements essentially as a process of transmitting cultural ideas through built form. It hypothesizes that a better understanding of vernacular built form can be attained through examination of what might be called "process of architectural vernacularization." The space syntax method is used to uncover from a sample of villages and courtyard houses the configurational regularities that evidence the process. It is found that: (1) settlement morphology was mainly driven by two social forces working alternatively: Discrete local geometry driven by lineage segmentation and differentiation was continuously absorbed by global patterns of micro economic activities; (2) as large and complex houses emerged by joining courtyard units to accommodate the cell-split family expansion under one common roof, the architectural quality of the courtyard space in its genotype was gradually reduced as spaces for informal use became increasingly important in integrating house layout. The study concludes that the realization of architectural intent in the studied examples had to go through a "vernacularization process." As settlements and domestic buildings became larger and more complex, the attempt to realize cultural ideas in built form was increasingly subject to the constraints of socio-economic forces, which are in turn conditioned by the "morphological laws" of architectural and urban space. It is the patterning of socio-economic forces that architectural intent was gradually assimilated in the process of vernacular space production. What has been observed in the vernacular built forms in Huizhou villages, is the fact that these forms have been continuously modified by anonymous and customary forces without any principled changes to their spatial configuration. This eventually leads to a phenomenon that might be c
Release date NZ
January 27th, 2017
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Country of Publication
United States
colour illustrations
Open Dissertation Press
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