Xiangshan, outside Beijing. 2012. J.Richard, all rights reserved
New approaches in Chinese garden history, conference abstract
19th June 2015, at the University of Sheffield
We are pleased to announce that a new speaker has joined our conference:
Peter Blundell Jones, University of Sheffield
"The sense of direction in Imperial Chinese architecture"
There seems at first an obvious similarity between the long entry sequence of the Forbidden City set on a centre-line reserved for the Emperor and the axial layouts of European Palaces such as Versailles. The formality of Imperial Chinese Architecture might then seem to reflect a centralising tendency connected with the expression of power, helping justify a universal technique of axial planning further developed by the Beaux Arts and passed on to architectural academies across the world. Both involve hierarchical societies and require a capability to undertake large scale planning in a unified manner, and both involve a theatrical display of political and quasi-religious power. Both presume the rationality of orthogonal construction, underlined in the Chinese case by a discipline of carpentry. But similarities can be deceptive, resulting in a tendency to overlook differences, which sometimes are more significant than the parallels. One is the question of direction and progression, and what it might mean.
See Peter's profile here.
See his joint article with Jan Woudstra about Chinese gardens here.