The Plan Of Old Peking

M. A. Aldrich

in The Search for a Vanishing Beijing

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print March 2008 | ISBN: 9789622097773
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9789882207585 | DOI:
The Plan Of Old Peking

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This chapter provides a general survey of Peking's urban design. The urban design of Old Peking is based on ancient Chinese theories of cosmology. The Zhou Li is one of the earliest essays on feng shui, a cosmological architectural theory that explained how to construct buildings so that they do not conflict with supernatural forces. Old Peking was built on the basis of an imaginary central axis running from the south to the north of the city. The Zhou Li also advocated the architectural principle of symmetrically placing boxes within boxes. Under the principles of the Zhou Li, the outer city also should enclose the Northern City in a concentric pattern. Before the 1980s, Chinese architecture did not favor tall buildings lest they interfere with the passage of spirits. The urban design of Peking lasted until the 1950s. In the 1980s, capitalist modernity made its way on the scene along with an intensified urbanization program.

Keywords: Old Peking; urban design; Zhou Li; feng shui; Chinese architecture; urbanization; modernity

Chapter.  3690 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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