China - Table of Contents........... Architecture Around the World
Old Town Yuyuan Bazaar
AKA Old City
See also: Old Town Yu Gardens
On this page, below:
The Old Chinese City (Nanshi), located just southwest of the Bund, was the first part of Shanghai to be settled. In the early days, Shanghai had a city wall that came down when the last dynasty fell, in 1911. During the colonial era (1842-1949) when Westerners had their own enclaves (concessions), this was the main Chinese district, where foreigners almost never ventured.
Considerably more frequented by foreigners these days (though mostly around the Yu Yuan Old Town Bazaar area), Nanshi, with its narrow winding streets and old houses, is still one of the lesser-explored parts of town.
As early as the Neolithic period, a basic principle of Chinese architecture was already established, wherein columns spaced at intervals, rather than walls, provided the support for the roof. Walls came to serve merely as enclosing screens.
Roofs, sometimes in several tiers, feature a sweeping curvature that rises at the corners of the roof - flying eaves - to deter evil spirits. The ridges of the roof are usually highly decorated with ceramic figurines.
In Chinese traditional architecture, buildings are typically planned to contain an even numbers of columns in a structure to produce odd numbers of bays. With the inclusion of a main door to a building in the center bay, symmetry is maintained.
Windows in traditional Chinese architecture are usually rectangular with wooden shutters or grilles.
Flared gable roof. Note flanking ceramic dragons on the ridges of the roof.
Roofs, sometimes in several tiers, often feature a sweeping curvature that rises at the corners of the roof - flying eaves - to deter evil spirits. The ridges of the roof are usually highly decorated with ceramic figurines.
Note far right figurines, detailed in photo below:
Ceramic figurines on the ridges of the roof. Note tile-ends.
Flying eaves ... Dougong
Fretted window shutters and balconies.
Chinese fret: Lattice ornament on balustrades, gates, friezes, and railings, made of square-sectioned timber, and forming square and rectangular patterns, with diagonals adding triangular and other shapes.
Balconies usually feature fretwork
Ceiling. Center medallion detail below:
Medallion features two gilded dragons
Bridge of Nine Turnings (Jiu Qu Qiao)
This zigzag bridge was thought to be propitious, since demons were believed to be afraid of corners.
Photos and their arrangement © 2013 Chuck LaChiusa