Journal

Timber in Ancient China

PHOEBE FU JOHN CHAPMAN BRENDA VALE UNIVERSITY OF AUCKLAND

Timber was used extensively in traditional Chinese architecture, but the process by which the tree became the building material was often not fully documented. Many considered timber as a suitable building material because as the living drew their sustenance from the ground so the trees also grew from the ground. Therefore timber was seen as the material to accommodate the living. In contrast, the materials derived from the ground, such as clay bricks or stone were considered the building material for the dead. Trees intended for building were considered immensely valuable to the sovereign and the wealthy. Historically the use of large timber in building was always associated with power or social status. Since the scale of the constructions and the number of craftsmen involved were enormous, a standardized approach to building became inevitable –and this led to the compilation of “building standards”.

This article was published in Issue 5 of Volume 12 of the NZ Timber Design Journal

2004

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