The Chinese courtyard house is also known as the SiHeYuan house 四合院 or the combination of four courts, forming a center plaza. A basic SiHeYuan house is considered a module capable to be duplicated and expanded when desired. There are many rules governing the design of the SiHeYuan house. These rules are based on the principles of FengShui.
There are basically 3 sections of a single module.
The frontal portion comprises of the "Main Gate" and a terrace of worker's quarters to the left of the "Main Gate" and the horseman station to the left. Many people assumed that the "Main Gate" as the Main Door but this is not the case. The inhabitant takes the street as public spaces and high walls are desirous to conceal the private spaces within. So the worker's quarters, horseman station and the main gates are barricading the street front. The main gate is always located to the right side, looking from the street. It is in the location of Xun 巽 within the Green Dragon Embrace 青龍.
The Center Portion is the house proper. Aligned to the center is the Main Door. This Main Door opens up to a huge center court. Only VIP and family members can come in from the Main Door to the house proper. Only males can be seen walking pass the center court. Females are not allowed to use the center court. They can only pass through the terraces that link to the western wing also known as the White Tiger Embrace 白虎. Only on special occasions like festivity, marriages and ushering newborns, females are allowed to be seen in the center court.
The western wing is the living abode for the females. The opposite is called the eastern wing also known as the Green Dragon Embrace 青龍. The eastern wing is the living abode for the males. Contrary to FengShui principles that the Green Dragon Embrace 青龍 must be higher than White Tiger Embrace 白虎, the female quarters are higher than the male quarters for practical reason - allowing the female to see and not to be seen from the ground level.
Aligned to the center and opposite of the Main Door, sitting north facing south is the Main Living Hall where official receptions are held. There is no TV room but a large hall comprising of rows of seat with the main feature wall usually heavily decorated with altar and calligraphy. The master room is usually located to the back of the Living Hall. Usually the owner will plant 2 trees at the front of the living hall within the compound of the center court. Whenever the tree wither, it signify bad omens. If it is on the left, it affects the male descendants otherwise if it is on the right, it affects the female descendants.
The last portion of the house comprising the kitchen, toilets and the back of house. It is detached away from the house proper through a court of utilitarian in nature. There is also a back door only serves as the entrance for the female members of the family and as the only mean to allow the disposal of "night soil" or sewer.
Every sections of the SiHeYuan is comprising a number of buildings complete with its 4 walls and a roof above. So technically SiHeYuan is a compound with many individual houses. The courts are open to sunshine and rain water. There is a complete water reticulation system within the SiHeYuan where waters are designed to flow according to a certain direction in accordance to the FengShui principle. Nothing is rarely left for chances.
When the family grows, the extended family require extended place to live. The same module was duplicated to the back, again with a second center court complete with its own left and right wing living quarters with its secondary main hall, yet the secondary module also share the same kitchen.
As the family prosper, they may require their very own Chinese garden. They will not turn their main court into a Chinese garden and instead, they will purchase the neighboring lot and be expended into a standalone Chinese garden with internal access ways. So, technically the SiHeYuan remains intact and whatsoever add-ons are a matter of "plug and play".
The Xin building, true to its name, is so shining that it can be spotted from very high away by sat! Anyone going through Google earth can verify this. Now to have Xin metal thus shining, you have to polish it and wash it with good water…..
From a westerner look, the building design is a bit estranged, mainly due to the canopy design, then with the entrance features is it a critic? No! On the contrary it would testify for the success of the Architect, his team and the Master of Works with deep rooting in Chinese and Asian culture. Thus being able to retain its essence while using the building techniques and their ordinary design consequences that have spread all around the world, with the back draw of rubbing people’s identities and setting so an often boring and sad sensation of uniformity in offices buildings!
Apart from having bits of understandings concerning the main KanYu conformity, I am quite intrigued by the canopy design. Its technical use, I can only have guesses, not being acquainted with the local environmental conditions. But for its sophisticated design, it shows a deeper intention; for, from a mere technical and building cost approach, it perhaps could have been designed as a simple straight extension of the inner structure of the building. It is obviously treated as a separate but fully integrated unit bringing something more to the project and not only in purely “stylish” purpose. No doubt that this structure pay tribute to the art and abilities of technical studies offices and working skills of builders, but what lay behind the differences in styling the front with some main angles rounded while the back and sides are kept squared? I will let the learned discover the reasons, as the Architect himself did gave a quite general guide for understanding his Concept, his architectural “Parti- Pris.
You have given the main Kan Yu hints for understanding your work and decisions.
A feature of terrain draw my attention: the road pattern around the building: I would tend to consider it as a long noose. The fact that the noose braid is directed toward south have generated this question and reflection.
This building is, of course, attuned to your general provocateur trend, not in itself, but regarding to the general classic building near environment: Is it a Crane among Chickens?
I would say yes and it might be a seed for starting a new efficient and successful business area there. The drawback of being so conspicuous and tailored for success is it may generates envy and jealousy around, and with the local powers. So, I would say with that road noose that the communication success might, if too strong and boasting for “avant garde” against conservative’s local strengths, be the sign for obstruction and backlashes: when Yin wood is growing too fast and disturbs, it is trimmed. If trimming is done with care and sympathy everything is fine; but if the one who has the power of trimming feels a menace and danger for its power and habits from this growth, it might trim harshly and so cripple the yin wood. Of course this would have nothing to do with you or your design, only with the occupant’s attitudes! If I were the owner of building or start up developer in this place, I would keep a keen look on my communication and be cautious not to provoke – too much- local powers. That is walking on the razor’s edge: how do you disturb people enough to wake them up so they adapt to new conditions without falling into provocation that will upset them and generates rebukes and obstruction? And in this case” squeeze the noose around the neck”!
But why did I spent time writing you irrelevant things or things you already know and took care of there?
With my best. Steve