Wednesday, September 22, 2021
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Civilian Residence


Due to the vast expanse of China, the presence of many ethnic groups, different climatic conditions and ways of life, residences of people in different parts of country differ in terms of design and style, forming colorful styles of civilian residence.

The most representative civilian residences of Chinese are siheyyuan of Beijing, cave-dwellings of Losess Plateau in northwest China, and earthen tower of Kejia (or Hakka) people in Fujian province and Guangdong province.


There are a large number of quadrangles called siheyyuan, which are compound enclosed by inward-facing houses on four sides, in alleyways (hutungs) of Beijing.

Entrance gate of a siheyyuan is usually set at the southeast or northwest counter of the compound. The main south-facing house. the center of a siheyyuan, stands on a terrace built with bricks and stones. Larger than other houses in the compound, it is used by the master of the family. On both sides of the younger generations. Corridors connect all the houses, used for people's walking and having a break. The noth-facing houses are generally used for servants or for stacking sundries.

Beijing has siheyyuan of all sizes, but, no matter what the size, there will be an enclosure wall with houses built on four sides. The simplest siheyyuan has only one courtyard in the middle, but there are ones with three or four courtyards surrounded by houses. A larger siheyyuan formerly occupied by a wealthy family actually comprises several siheyyuan. The enclosure walls and the houses on the side of the alley usually do not have windows. Therefore, the inside of the compound is tranquil and peaceful.

The middle and upper reaches of Yellow River comprise Loess Plateau. People living on the plateau make use of the solid and thick loess to build unique residences called cave-dwellings. These can be further divided into earthen, rock-walled and brick-walled types. Earthen cave-dwellings are hollowed out of mountain slopes; they are warm in winter and cool in summer, and are also soundproof. Stone-walled or brick-walled cave-dwellings are usually built with stones or bricks first into an arch-shaped house and then covered with a thick layer of earth. Since there is no need for steel and cement, the building coasts are low. As society progress, construction of cave-dwelling keeps improve, and today, such houses are more comfortable inside and more pleasant in appearance.

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