The Poetics of Dwelling: China’s Courtyard Homes
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Dwelling is a notion that describes the feeling of returning home to utter belonging and calmness at the end of an endeavour. It is a notion that differentiates a mere shelter versus a home because we develop intimate relationships with the spaces within. The spiritual characteristics that are associated with dwelling exceed the analytical description of space. It is an expression of how we live. In the context of a modern metropolitan such as Shanghai, the city is extremely dense in population and functions at an accelerated pace. During the age of the technological revolution, citizens can network with others on a variety of platforms on a daily basis, causing them to be in a constant state of mobility. The main intention of recent residential developments is to build rapidly to meet the demands of the growing population, and residential architecture often becomes the by-product of modern construction methods. The current housing market consists of monolithic neighbourhood blocks featuring very rigid unit layouts. These units do not allow the resident to appropriate the space, hence prevents them from building a personal connection to their home. In this thesis, I argue that there is a lack of concern for the spiritual aspects of dwelling in the modern housing market of China. Instead, the home should play the role of a touch-down place within this accelerated environment, providing a slow space for rewind at the end of a busy day. There is an extensive philosophy behind the idea of dwelling throughout the Chinese history. The courtyard home as the most iconic type of housing aims to create a versatile home that is appropriable in both elements of architecture and nature. Every family can easily implement their values and preferences into the home and create a personal utopia. The courtyard manages to combine all elements of the earth into one holistic space. The qualities of the traditional courtyard home can potentially fulfil what is lacking in the current housing market of China. This thesis will analyse the qualities of dwelling in its spiritual connotation and how it can be translated into dwellings of the 21st Century Shanghai and propose a contemporary housing project utilising ideologies of dwelling from Chinese courtyard homes.
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Danqing Huang (2017). The Poetics of Dwelling: China’s Courtyard Homes. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/12505