Architecture as a field is just as regional as it is global. To put it simply, architecture forms a huge part of any culture. Even in our country, architecture plays a key role for culture, religions, beliefs to represent their history and present. Not only that, architecture also serves as a useful resource for humans to be able to decode the past and the lives of their ancestors. All these factors and more combine make architecture a cultural component which often changes across regions and nations.
Apart from the cultural factor, there is practicality to the variation of architecture across different regions. Geographically,each region has different needs, demands and common practices according to which their architecture takes shape. Together, all these factors give rise to architectural styles that are representative of a particular region or place, each unique with its own norms, techniques, characteristics and even materials.
One such style is the traditional Oriental architecture. Originating in China, Oriental architecture spans in influence across the East Asian region being anative style of that region. Oriental style is representative of the culture, the techniques, the knowledge and the needs of the East Asian with respect to architecture. The oriental style to this day is a prominent influence and has rather inspiring characteristics to look upto.
Let us take you on a journey to unravel and discover what entails Oriental architecture:
THE COSMO CONNECTION
Top of the list is one of the most prominent features of Oriental architecture, the cosmo connection or simply the Feng Shui system. The Feng shui system is not just prominent in the East Asian region but has become a rather valued system globally. Architects, interior designers and homeowners across the world are privy to the system and many try to align their home with the principles of Feng Shui.
Feng Shui basically takes into account the different elements of nature to outline certain colors and even directional placements for a home. The purpose of Feng shui is to create a living space that is peaceful, mindful and promotes prosperity. The system talks about different energies and harnesses them to create a harmonious living quarter.
The Feng Shui system has been a highlight of oriental architecture since ancient times. The principles of Feng Shui map out a layout for the home including placements of furniture, different rooms with regards to which direction each component must be placed in.
Apart from directions the system also identifies certain properties associated with each color making it appropriate for certain portions of the house. The system also makes suggestions such as having a clutter free space, or creating a strong presence of nature and greenery that are quite essential even to modern mindful interior design. (To know more about Feng Shui for your homes, check out our blog).
ORIENTAL MATERIAL MANUAL
Materials form the backbone of every architectural project. Bringing vision to fruition and defining it is all done through the right materials. Each design, each location or project may have its own material demands or even norms to abide by. More than often, local materials and practices play a huge role in determining the kind of materials used in a structure which is reflected in oriental architecture as well.
Certain materials, traditionally used have become characteristic of the style and define a huge part of the overall looks of oriental architecture sites. The first and foremost of these materials is wood. Wood has been the highlight material for Oriental architecture.
Wood was seen as a material and was seen as a sturdy solution to combating the flood and seismic activities common in the region. Since it was quite accessible as well, it allowed people to be able to use it abundantly, giving rise to the tradition of timber structures in Oriental architecture. Wood was carved and well worked with to create impeccable structures, many of which stand to this day.
Apart from timber, Rammed earth was widely used as a material for buildings and even city construction. Bamboo and stone tiles are also fairly common in oriental architecture as the style sees a strong draw towards natural materials. These materials to this day are quite common and a part of the Oriental architecture identity.
INNOVATION IN CONSTRUCTION
One of the most unique and valued propositions of Oriental Architecture is its rather unconventional construction methods. Oriental architecture has improvised and adapted according to the natural disasters that they are prone to which is reflective in their architecture as well.
To make their buildings and structures as unphased as possible in times of calamities, different techniques have been used to maintain structural integrity. For starters, even though the structures use a lot of timber, it is not held together by a barrage of nails, instead through an interlocking method.
The timber pillars on the periphery are interlocked with horizontal wooden beams through groves to ensure that they stay together as far as possible. The interlocking beams also form a strong frame for the roof that extends beyond the structure to sit upon. This particular framework construction method is known as the Dougong and is quite prominent in Oriental architecture.
Through a set of dougong brackets and groves, the building gets a rather surprising structural integrity. Apart from its strength, the dougong system also allows for easy additions to a structure without too much hassle. The construction techniques of oriental architecture are a remarkable example of human innovation and adaptability in terms of architecture.
THE ROOF STYLES
In almost every oriental architecture structure, especially of the ancient times one thing stands out which is an elaborate roof. Roofs with spread extending beyond the building are quite characteristic to the oriental style. The initial thought behind such a roof was to ensure protection of the wooden beams from weather exposure.
Soon enough, such roofs became a staple to oriental architecture. Roofs that extend beyond the building also are built with a slight curve on the corners which is quite different from any architectural style. The curve was added as a way to ensure more light entered the windows and premises while also having a cultural meaning as such curves were believed to ward off the evil spirits.
Different designs of roofs in oriental architecture came into being. These include double hip roofs, gable roofs, pyramid roofs, flush gables etc. each with a similar structure but different approach and design. Another unique quality to roofs in oriental architecture is that they were built to be quite ornate.
With ceramic tiles coating the roof alongside golden accent figurines are quite common in the style. Corner ornaments, an elaborate centerpiece and even patterns along the edges of the roof are often seen in the oriental style giving the buildings a beautiful crown!
A central principle of oriental architecture is its focus on symmetry in design. Symmetry continues to be an important part of oriental architecture even today. The bilateral symmetry in designs is viewed as a means to achieve balance making it a crucial feature.
There’s quite a bit of technicality to how this symmetry is approached. The layout is built around a central axis alongside which the most important portions and auspicious portions of a building are supposed to be aligned. The second priority spaces are aligned alongside either side in a mirroring manner. The layout usually uses an even number of pillars placed strategically to uphold the structure.
The center axis is rather crucial and the reference point for the rest of the structure. The importance of the center axis is demarcated in the culture through rules of Confucius concept which lays focus on the importance of axial symmetry in design. Usually the center axis is formed by some room or hall along which the rest of the structure mirrors on either side.
An even number of pillars are strategically placed to ensure that the design lines up perfectly on both the sides. The symmetrical component takes importance even in terms of roofs where scale may be changed but the design and alignment is maintained in a neat manner to ensure a clean and symmetrical look. Symmetry has come to be an important part of modern oriental architecture as architects and consumers take into account the practical, cultural and aesthetic appeal of a symmetrical design.
Overall, a look at Oriental architecture offers a unique peek into architecture as a cultural entity, showing how it varies in different regions. Architecture adapts and evolves with time and region to serve its purpose the best. Stay tuned for more blogs to dig into the world of architecture all the more!