China's Sacred Sites

Overview

The ancient Chinese developed building techniques that are astounding in their ability to match nature and endure for centuries. China's Sacred Sites presents a vision of architecture as a harmonious interaction of human culture and the natural world. Over 300 color photos and architectural drawings document some of the most remarkable achievements of mountainscape feng shui. The wisdom of these ancient builders is particularly relevant today as sustainable building practices and green design take architecture in...

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Overview

The ancient Chinese developed building techniques that are astounding in their ability to match nature and endure for centuries. China's Sacred Sites presents a vision of architecture as a harmonious interaction of human culture and the natural world. Over 300 color photos and architectural drawings document some of the most remarkable achievements of mountainscape feng shui. The wisdom of these ancient builders is particularly relevant today as sustainable building practices and green design take architecture in new directions.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This stunning volume, co-written by two architects, suggests that Chinese religious architecture is fundamentally different from Western religious architecture. In the West, builders inspired by the biblical mandate to take dominion over the earth have designed towns in which architectural elements visually assert ownership over the landscape. In China, by contrast, "the building merges with the site." The authors explain, in terms that any layman will grasp, central concepts of Chinese architecture, such as the void (expansive spaces found in temples and terraces, which echo the Buddhist focus on nothingness), and the integration of nature and architecture. Shun-xun and Foit-Albert explore over 50 short portraits of sacred sites in caves, on cliffs, in mountain villages, and on lakes, explaining the distinguishing natural and architectural features. Readers will visit the Sweet Dew Temple (the yang of the temple balances the yin of the cave in which it is nestled), and the town of Xituo, in which a famous street shaped like a ladder "opens communication through time and space." Lush color photographs make this book a feast for the eyes, not just the soul. Readers interested in architecture, feng shui or Eastern spirituality will enjoy visiting China with Shun-xun and Foit-Albert as their guides. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal

Shunxun (architectural design theory, Beijing Inst. for Civil Engineering & Architecture) and Buffalo, NY, architect and teacher Foit-Albert have put together a handsome and informative book highlighting 41 religious shrines around China. Most of them are far off the beaten tourist routes and are known only locally. Included are both Han Chinese and minority sites, with an emphasis more on representative structures than on the unique. The substantial introductory chapters explain the settings and the architectural elements that connect the shrines to their settings. The specific sites and their structures are then divided into those on mountaintops, in the sides of cliffs, in caves, in mountain valleys and villages, and along rivers and lakes. Each is illustrated not only with photographs but by profiles and sketch plans that greatly enhance understanding of the buildings themselves (there are more than 350 images total). There are helpful location maps and a time line. Far more than the usual coffee-table book, this work serves as an excellent introduction, description, and explanation of traditional Eastern religious architecture increasingly abandoned and neglected today in the sweep toward modernization. It belongs in libraries with architectural, religious, or broad Asian collections, but it is a fine addition to general public libraries as well.
—Harold M. Otness

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780893892623
  • Publisher: Himalayan Institute Press
  • Publication date: 10/25/2007
  • Pages: 286
  • Sales rank: 1,190,495
  • Product dimensions: 9.93 (w) x 11.49 (h) x 0.92 (d)

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