Professional Course

History of Chinese Architecture

edX, Online
16 weeks
Next course start
Start anytime See details
Self-paced Online
16 weeks
Next course start
Start anytime See details
Self-paced Online
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Course description

History of Chinese Architecture

In the thousands of years of Chinese history, there have been many great cities. Chang'an in the Han Dynasty, Luoyang in the Northern Wei Dynasty, Chang'an and Luoyang in the Sui and Tang Dynasties, Kaifeng in the Northern Song Dynasty, and Dadu in the Yuan Dynasty were all the most prosperous metropolises in the world at that time. Although these cities have dimmed their stars, they have left behind beautiful and magnificent architectural masterpieces, which are breathtaking. Chinese palaces, religious buildings, pagodas, mausoleums and gardens have reached a very high level in terms of construction technology and aesthetic pursuit. Ancient Chinese architecture has its own system of construction methods, mainly wooden structures, and there are also many pagodas and mausoleums with masonry structures. A large number of palace buildings have been built in history, and the Forbidden City in Beijing is the largest palace complex in the world. From the Southern and Northern Dynasties to the Tang Dynasty, a large number of Buddhist temples and cave temples appeared. The masonry towers built in various places since the Northern and Southern Dynasties have also brought Chinese masonry buildings to a very high level. Tang, Liao, Song and Jin Dynasties left a large number of religious architectural remains, including large halls, multi-storey pavilions, and high-rise wooden towers up to 67 meters high. During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, altars, ancestral temples, mausoleums, and dwellings were highly developed. The Temple of Heaven in Beijing, the Confucius Temple in Qufu, the Ming Tombs, and Beijing Siheyuan are important architectural examples of this period. The Summer Palace in Beijing and Chengde Mountain Resort are representative of ancient royal gardens, while private gardens in Ming and Qing Dynasties are the crystallization of Chinese garden art for thousands of years. Song "Zao Fa Shi" and Qing "Ministry of Industry Engineering Practice Regulations" are two important texts of Chinese official architecture, which are of great significance for understanding Chinese architecture. Electronic versions of these two works will also be included in the course materials.

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  • Self-paced Online
  • Online
  • English

Who should attend?


None. This is an introductory course.

Course delivery details

This course is offered through Tsinghua University, a partner institute of Trinity College.

4 hours per week

Certification / Credits

What you'll learn

  • History and context of ancient buildings in Chinese cities such as Chang'an, Luoyang, Kaifeng, Dadu
  • Construction and aesthetics of Chinese imperial palaces, religious structures, pagodas, tombs and gardens
  • Foundations of Chinese architecture: the wood framed building and two books on the Song and Qing dynasties' building methods
  • How cultural heritage is preserved through the building of structures such as the world's tallest timber pagoda
  • Impact and significance of royal gardens and private gardens of the Ming and Qing dynasties

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