You are on page 1of 4

WREC 1996

THE BIOCLIMATIC FEATURES OF


VERNACULAR ARCHITECTURE IN CHINA

LI JINGXIA
INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTURE DESIGN AND URBANISM,
GENERAL CORP OF AEROSPACE & AERONAUTICS
ROOM 806, 14BUILDING, XIBAHEXILI, CHAOYANGQU, BEIJING,P.R.CHINA

Abstract:

The paper presents an analysis of the form and climatic conditions of two

traditional buildings in southern and northern parts of China. The vernacular architecture
reflects the principles for contemporary bioclimatic design, such as the choice of location,
insolation, weather seasonal protection, etc. It creates wonderful microclimate for the
inhabitants. It shows the local traditional architecture as the most adequate and suitable
answer to the requirements of enviromental and energy consumption need.

1. Introduction
Chinese philosophy is to live in harmony with nature rathar than conquor it., therefore
many activities such as architecture need to be made compatible to the outside world. As the
family is the basic unit of the monarchal Chinese society, the house is the basic unit of
Chinese architecture.

2. The house characteristics of Beijing city.


Beijing is located in the northem part of China with more than a thousond years of history.
It's a capital of four dynasties and new China. Through evolution of generations'
construction, Beijing compound has all its rooms closely connected with a courtyard in the
centre. Since the Chinese people believe that the sky is the circle and the land is the square,
the square outlay of houses is constructed with the house front facing south and the back
facing north. Beijing enjoys typical continental climate with cold, windy and dry winter.
Houses are built With local materials such as wood, grey bricks and dark tiles. All the houses
have their small and high Windows faced towards the streets, their doors and large windows
towards the courtyard. The "tang" hall is a kind of living room, a place for family gathering
and reception. Since the winter wind comes from the north-west, the enclosed compound
prevents the strong wind from penetrating into the rooms. The thick walls and heavy roofs

305

WREC 1996
also assure the minimum thermal loss. The dark colour of whole house absorbs more solar
enery in the winter. In summer time, as the principle wind comes form the south, the cool
air blows into 'Tang" hall from large windows and doors, with warm air evaporating
through the higher windows. Roof eaves and porches make shadowes to prevent more
sunshine into the house. The space between roof and ceiling acts as a conductor for the
warmness in winter and coolness in summer. The courtyard is paved with solid bdcks and
shaded in summer by a large tree and other vegetations. The enveloped houses reduce dust
and noise to a minimum level, and create a comfortable condition for private life.
The climate-based guildline for archtecture design reflects less thermal loss, less wind
penetration in winter and more ventilation in summer, and is regarded as an effective
strategy in local construction. Today, many compounds are arranged to form residential
blocks. They are still primary houses in central Beijing.

3. The building characteristics in Suzhou city


In compadsion with the houses in northern China, a private garden house in Shuzhou is
taken as example. The owners of houses were the educated, official or merchant. They built
up their houses in an artificial environment. The houses constitute only a part of a garden
compound. As the pdciple wind comes from the south-east, the climate is moderate and
humid in this area. Several houses in the garden were closely connected by corridors or
walls. The main house with its front faced towards a lake or a courtyard stands on a platform
to keep the dampness away. The second stories are ready to meet fresh air and more
sunshine. The steep and sloping roofs enable the rainwater to run quilkly. Roof comers tilt
up to let more air blow into the house. Wide roof eaves prevent more sunshine from
penetration. The white plastered wall reflects the strong sunshine. The large lattice windows
make daylighting more natural, ventilation much better. Small lake and tiny dver absorb
overheating in daytime and produce cool air in the night. A grove of native trees and
vegetations is created to retain and filter cool air, and to form a micro-climate in the garden.

4. Conclution:
The specific case of traditional house is considered to be a representative model of
intergration between architecture processes and climate requirrnents. It is necessary to
create a new architecture perspectives for the next century. A deeper understanding of
climate and natrual components inside histodcal existing contexts is helpful in enhancing
ecological awareness in modem buiding design.

306

WREC 1996

Aug+ Sept. ' Oct.

Nov.

Dee.

AlmnaL
Average

21.8 26.1

24.8

19.9

12.8

3.8

-2.8

11.8

35.9

81.6 239.1

157,81 59.1

16.7

10.6

2.6

636.9

9.2

11,0

I4.2

4.8

4.2

1.5

78,7

Jan.

Feb.

March April

May

June

Average T (C)

-I,7

+1.9

4.8

I3.7

20,1

Rainfall

3.5

1.7

8.4

I6.9

1.7

3.8

1.5

3.8

I Rain & Snow Days

July

t3.8

6.2

Table [:Climate Conditions in Beijing

f Beijing compound

Fig.2. Exterior view

Fig.3.Courtyard view
Feb.

Jan.

March April

May

June

July

Aug Sept. Oct

qov i Dec

Annual
Average

Average T(C)

Rainfall

3.1

] 37.8

4.3

8,4

I3.9

19.1

23.0

27.8 28.1 24.1

18.1

54.7

73.2

108.1

124.5 135.9 111.7 89.1 152.51 49S

11.6

t4.I

14.0

.2.5

5.9

~7.2 35.4

15.7

1039.4

(
Rain&Snow Days l S . l

] 9.1

12.5

I
Table 2;Climate Conditions in Suzlaou

307

10+1 8+6

t0.9 | 9.2

8.9

8.5

125.6

WREC 1996

i'"

, ~I

F'g.4. Layout of a gardon house in suzhot

Fi9.5. View from the Gardon

References
1. "The History of Chinese Architecture", Beijing, 1986.
2. "Beijing, the Capital of China-China's Urban Reform Series", Beijing, 1990.
3. Hua Shouxi, "Buiding and Climate", Journal of Science and Technology,1995.
4. Chen chongzhou, "Comments on Gardon", Shanghai, 1986.

308