Essay about Fengshui And Architecture

Submitted By Wilfred-Leung
Words: 5738
Pages: 23

Fengshui and Architecture
—A study exploring the impacts Fengshui has on Architecture—

Ho-wai Wilfred Leung
International Baccalaureate Extended Essay
2008 May

The study of fengshui is a unique element of the Chinese culture. Today, its influence reaches the western hemisphere. The complexity in fengshui concepts and methodologies cannot be easily and fully understood. This mystical nature of fengshui led many scientists into labeling it a “fake” science. Western experts had used calculators and different sciences to try to decipher the secrets in fengshui. Most of them failed because fengshui is neither modern science nor a single branch of science like physics or biology. Instead, fengshui is a combination of astronomy, architecture, geography, environmental and gardening studies, psychology, art, and the Chinese culture. Surviving for more than five thousand years, therefore, fengshui has become a very profound study.
For many dynasties, Chinese cities and buildings abided strictly to the rules of fengshui. Before the Cultural Revolution, fengshui was studied in school as a compulsory course for all architecture students. Fengshui is an indispensable part of the Chinese culture and a very advantageous element in the study of architecture. In this essay, I am going to investigate the impact and influence fengshui has on modern and traditional Chinese architecture. The mystical nature of fengshui that affects the structural design and the color of a few structures in Hong Kong will also be introduced. I hope to show the practicality of fengshui and its contribution to the visual aspect of Chinese architecture. It is important, however, to be aware of the fact that fengshui is a very complicated study. Having experienced five thousand years of changes and modifications, it is inevitable that there are different interpretations and branches of the study. It is also beyond my ability to fully comprehend its complexity in less than a year’s time. What I am touching on in this essay is only a very superficial part of the study.


Fengshui and Architecture

Fengshui is an integral part of Chinese culture. To many people, fengshui seems to hold a mystical quality, because fengshui is not a study as well defined as physics or psychology. Instead, it is a combination of Chinese folklores and traditions and many other subject areas, including astrology, biology, geography, environmental studies, landscape planning, structural design, interior decoration and aesthetics 1.
Many fundamentals of fengshui, such as environmental studies and structural design, are core to architecture.
Fengshui has a long history that dates back to the Chinese Zhou Dynasty
(1027-256BCE) 2. Since then, fengshui has had a huge impact on Chinese architectural designs. Fengshui emphasizes how to achieve harmony with nature 3. Traditional
Chinese buildings strongly reflect this concept. In these buildings, we see fengshui at work in the selection of the structure’s location, the landscape design around the structure, and the building’s exterior as well as interior design. Today, more and more architects worldwide have started to pay special emphasis to this ancient study 4.
Understanding the impact fengshui has on architecture is becoming increasingly important. Image 1 The Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center. The idea of fengshui is not incorporated in the design of this structure. However, it can be seen that its exterior is influenced by its surrounding environment, a major principle in fengshui.

Yang Wenhang,中国风水十讲,(Beijing:华夏出版社,2007) p.16
Yang Wenhang,中国风水十讲,(Beijing:华夏出版社,2007) p.16
Anon., History of Fengshui, <>, 2007-12-9
Yang Wenhang,中国风水十讲,(Beijing:华夏出版社,2007) p.3

In Chinese, the term “fengshui (风水)” is made up of two characters: wind (风) and water (水). Wind in fengshui does not simply imply a 70 miles per hour airstream. It includes areas of geography where air