This building shows the completely symmetric group layout. The symmetric model concept had emerged in the primitive society, drawn directly from nature. Many objects in nature are symmetrical. These include, for instance, the heads of animals, the trunks of trees, the stamens of flowers. These important parts are located on the symmetric axial. When this was transplanted to the group layout of buildings, the structures on the axis naturally held an especially important position. Particular importance was attached to symmetry which then became one of the major characteristics of traditional Chinese buildings.(Fig.2-1)
In the Western Zhou Dynasty, the relationship between palace and capital city became closer, this is evident from the "Kao Gongji" (Notes on the Inspection of Engineering Work) recording the then planning system of the capital city of Luoyi. The book says: The Wang Cheng(imperial city) built by artisan was in a square pattern, stretching nine lion each side and each inset with three city gates. Within the city there were nine horizontal streets and nine vertical streets, each wide enough to accommodate nine carts running parallel (the center of the city was a palatial town); set up on the left side of the palatial town was an ancestral temple for worshipping the ancestors of Emperor Zhou; on the right side was a Sheji Altar for worshipping the god of the land and the god of grain. In front of the palace was a square called "Wai Chao" (looking outside), and at the back of the palace was a market. Records of the KaoGongji indicate it was a square city with a symmetrical axis. The palatial town was located in the most important position at the center of the Wang Cheng. The temple for worshipping ancestors and the altar for worshipping the god of the land and the god of grain stood respectively on the left and right. This fact shows that during the Western Zhou Dynasty, monarchical power had risen above clan and religious authority, which was of important significance in the history of palace. This layout was still adopted in Beijing until the Ming and Qing dynasties. This is one of the striking differences between traditional Chinese architectural culture and other architectural systems of the world.
The palace itself was formed by linking in order the numerous "doors" and the many squares called "chao" along the axis. There were approximately "five doors and three chaos". Outside the doors and chaos, there were "qins" (bedrooms). The sequence of chao and qin was "chao in front and qin at the back". The foremost (south) point of Gaomen Gate was the front gate (equivalent to present-day Beijing's Zhengyangmen). Kumen within the Gaomen was the front gate(equivalent to Beijing's Tiananmen) of the entire palatial worshipping architectural district that included the Palatial Town and the structures for worshipping ancestors and the god of the land and the god of grain. Zhimen, to the north of Gaomen, was the front gate (equivalent to Beijing's Wumen) of the palatial town itself. The square between Kumen and Zhimen was Waichao, leading east to zu (equivalent to Beijing's Taimiao Temple), and west to she (equivalent to Beijing's Sheji Altar).This was a gathering place before the grand ceremony of worshipping ancestors and the god of the land and god of grain, and major events relating to the dangerous situation of the state, the moving of the capital and induction of a new monarch, as well as the ceremony for announcing important decrees were all held here. In order to strengthen the momentum of Waichao, on both sides of Zhimen Gate were established(Xiang wei), i.e., "shuang que, or two watch towers". Que means a decorative structure designed to "assume an imposing view". It looked like a platform on which there were houses. Both stood outside the palatial gate. Present-day Beijing's Wumen is in the U-shaped plane open to the south. Its east and west protruding parts evolved from ancient "shuang que". Within the palatial town was a yingmen (equivalent to Beijing's Taihemen of the Forbidden City, and in charge of the opening and closing of the door). The square adjacent to the yingmen was called Zhichao. There should be a great hall in Zhichao where emperor of the Zhou Dynasty received ministers and administered state affairs. At tieback of the hall there was a palatial sleeping area where the emperor and empress lived. The main gate was called Lumen (equivalent to Qianqingmen of Beijing's Forbidden City. The front hall within the gate was called Luqin. The square between Lumen and Luqin was called Yanchao.
Compared with Beijing's extant Imperial Palace, it can be seen that up to Luoyi Palace, the general pattern of China's palaces had roughly been established. The numerous doors, halls and squares comprised an in-depth picture in line with the axis. Different atmospheres were created in different sections; organic combination was made, thus achieving the pre-determined environmental artistic effect. It had far-reaching influence on the layout of subsequent dynastic palaces, and even those such as temples, altars, government offices and residences. Compared with Western stone structures which were widely used and fully developed at the very beginning, Chinese buildings basically used wood and were limited by the size of materials and dynamic performance. The volume of their singe structure could not be too big, and their body-type too complicated. In order to express their reverence and magnificence, China had long before developed the concept of group pictorial composition. The complex of buildings were arranged horizontally and occupied a large area. Through diverse courtyard methods, the various structural factors in the complex were organically organized. The various monomers set off and compared with each other, the circulation and change of the courtyard, the space of the courtyard. The mutual mirroring of the deficiency and sufficiency of the entities of buildings and merger and transition of indoor and outdoor spaces are taken as a means to make their volume magnificent and their shape rich, thereby playing up the strong atmosphere and giving people a profound experience. Whereas Western stone structures placed stronger emphasis on vertical extension, attention was paid to the full development of rooms and space, all of which constitute the major differences between Chinese and Western architectural art.
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