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Despite the fact that many buildings in gardens could actually serve as residences year round, most garden architecture is fanciful and decorative. The overall arrangement of buildings divides the interior space of the garden into smaller cells that contain one or many small scenic views.


Compare these ground plans of the courtyard house and a garden.  What features of basic layout do they share in common? How are they different?


Click here for a review of the layout of a courtyard-style home

Plan of a double courtyard house                      source


Plan of the Blue Waves Pavilion (Suzhou, Jiangsu province)                                                       source



Buildings in a garden are often connected by covered walkways and different spaces are visually linked by views glimpsed through open doorways, lattice windows, and decorative openings in walls. At other times, the view is purposely obstructed by building placement and other "natural" barriers such as artificial mountain structures. A garden's planner would also consider how a particular view might change as a visitor walked.



Lattice window, Garden For Lingering, Suzhou (Jiangsu province)            source

Moon Gate, Garden for Close Examination, Nanjing                                             source



Chinese garden designers use "borrowed views," picturesque views that are framed by parts of the buildings themselves but exist beyond the walls of the garden proper.


Sometimes views are borrowed from other parts of the garden. "Leak windows" are openings decorated with lattice designs that allow the viewer glimpses into smaller courtyards and spaces that the building would otherwise hide.


What difference can you perceive in how you would experience this type of garden compared with the garden of a French villa or an English country garden?


Doorway looking in from a passage in the northwest courtyard of the Garden of the Master of Nets, Suzhou (Jiangsu province)          source



Here are examples of some of the buildings you would find in a garden. As you look at them, keep in mind the following questions:


How is the architecture of the garden related to that of typical living quarters?

Can you tell by the design of a building within the garden what its function is?

Can you identify natural metaphors in building designs?

How do the buildings relate to the natural surroundings?

What do you think is the reason that architecture plays an important role in the Chinese garden?





What might the advantages be in having a building without walls?


Where would you expect to find this building type in a garden?


Treebark Pavilion, Mt. Qingcheng, Sichuan province            source





This type of building usually contained the owner's library.


What features of this building can you see that would make it ideal for use as a library?


Two-storied "Boat" hall, The Garden of Pure Radiance, Suzhou   source







What might you notice walking along a crooked walkway that you might not notice on a straight one?

Covered walkway, Garden of the Master of Nets, Suzhou (Jiangsu province)                                                                              source


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