The enclosed courtyard in Chinese ancient architecture

Chinese ancient buildings have a long history, many classic elements derived from them. the enclosed courtyard is one of classic elements that I am going to talk about. In the past, courtyard life was the most common way of life for people; but now the fast-paced city people only have a deep desire for courtyard life.

Courtyard has been the main form of expression of Chinese architecture for thousands of years. In building enclosure form, it was loaded with Chinese ideas and aesthetic appeal. This introverted and self-enclosed, sweet and comfortable courtyard space has ever nurtured generations of Chinese temperament, it has become the most common traditional way of life.


The courtyard homes are the most mature quintessence of the development of Chinese ancient buildings. The enclosed courtyard layout allows the space to return to the origin of life and to the best scale between human and nature, human to human.

Enclosure not only refers to physical protection, but also is something that establish the relationship between people. Enclosure forms an independent and complete local space and gives people a sense of security and belonging. Enclosure is bound to form a large spacing, both to ensure the distance of the residents’ private space, and to remove the enclosed feeling being attached due to safety, promote air circulation, creat good local environment. In a space with weak enclosing force, people in such an environment hardly feel cohesion and sense of presence.


Compared with the traditional townhouses, the courtyard villas are more private and have a strong sense of territory. All rooms and public spaces are arranged towards the private courtyard, which maximizes the utility of the courtyard landscape and enhances the uniformity of the indoor landscape; and The courtyard villas have large space, little depth, sufficient lighting, and higher flexibility in the layout of the entire unit.

“If there is a hometown in spring, summer, autumn and winter, it must be in the courtyard of the Chinese people.” The living spirit of the Chinese uniquely embodies the idea of ​​”the harmony between man and nature” and “the law of the Tao is its being what it is”, and these ideas mainly come from the courtyard. This square space encloses the emotion of “Family-country”. The meaning of the courtyard no longer stays in the display of lifestyle and serves more as a cultural carrier.


The architect Liang Sicheng once said: once get a courtyard of my own, the spirit is truly settled. Therefore, there is no residence without courtyard is a complex in the bones of every Chinese. A courtyard, enclose the family’s tender feelings inherited from generation to generation, is a place where spirit and soul meld, and it is also a concrete manifestation of Chinese people’s pursuit of the state of “the unity of man and nature”.

Since ancient times, China has advocated the “inner sageliness and outer kingliness”, which is reflected in the Chinese courtyard architecture. Just as the “Humble Administrator’s Garden” encloses the most prestigious land, the courtyard looks a secluded xanadu, lets the innumerable people admire it.

Liu hong

Liu hong

a Freelance Travel Writer and Group Editor living in Beijing.

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