FNAR 394BFall, Spring

Chinese Architecture

Why do the Chinese build in this way?
Eugene Geinzer 甘优生
Course Introduction
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Eugene Geinzer 甘优生
Eugene Geinzer 甘优生MFA, Pratt Institute of Art; M.Arch, Illinois Institute of Technology

Academic Advisor and Professor

Eugene Geinzer exhibited his whimsical furniture-sculpture in the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Lever House and Zabriskie Galleries of New York, and many university galleries. Gradually, while teaching packaging design, ceramic sculpture and woodworking at Georgetown University and Loyola University Chicago, he began his dual life as teacher of sculpture and a student of architecture.

  • Traditional Chinese architecture
  • Drawing
  • 3-D design 
  • Ceramic sculpture
  • Woodworking

Chinese Architecture

This course is accredited through Loyola University Chicago
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Course Description

The Traditional Chinese Architecture course will survey five principle forms of Chinese architecture: Pavilions / 楼阁, Gates / 牌坊 / 牌楼, Pagodas / 佛塔, Gardens / 花, and Bridges / 桥

The methodology of this course will be a blend of 1) architectural morphology (shapes), 2) historical precedent, 3) anthropological and 4) cultural techniques. This will not be, in a strict sense, a “History of Chinese Architecture.” That is, we will analyze how a building is constructed; study historical prototypes of the Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming, Qing and Republican periods; ask an anthropological question,

“Why do the Chinese build in this way?”

and reflect on what these buildings reveal about Chinese Culture. We already encountered most of these types on our Silk Road 丝绸路。For example, in Xi’an we saw the Small Goose Pagoda, and in the Moslem Quarter the Old Mosque Pagoda, the Old Mosque (temple), and the Gate at its entrance. You may have taken photographs. During the semester we will probably visit the Summer Palace and see its Bridge, Pagoda and Gardens. Not only will students learn how to record these structures, but they will be taught techniques to gather “cultural evidence” about them. One lecture will be devoted to the issue of the demise of Traditional Chinese Architecture, its potential for revival and its suitability for inspiration for contemporary Chinese architectural.

Each student will undertake an independent study of one traditional piece of architecture. Note in particular that the Chinese consider “gardens” as a form of architecture. This research project of about 10 to 15 pages will use standard academic documentation plus photographs and simplified architectural drawings to exhibit analysis and understanding of a Chinese structure. You can study any example of the five types—Bridge, Garden, Gate, Temple or Pagoda. You must investigate in person this piece of architecture. You cannot simply rely on photographs. You must measure it; photograph it; record it in plan, elevation and section; and look for its historical precedents. I will supply you with multiple examples you can choose from.

Courses Outcomes

The student will learn to identify the authentic form and iconography of traditional Chinese Gates, Pagodas, Pavilion/Temples, Bridges and Gardens. S/he will learn how to record a building in situ; measuring its plan and elevation; photographing and developing a visual record of the materials, structure, iconography, imagery and ornament of this building. S/he will also be able to describe and illustrate the primary construction techniques involved in its structure. Having investigated this building, the student will be able to explore the relationships between it and other traditional forms. This collateral research will enhance the “texture” of his/her research document. S/he will be able to look for analogous structures in history anthologies and relate the “topic building” both in form and ornamentation to those relative buildings. The student will learn how to do comparative analysis of building type through the use of our library holdings. The student will learn how to reflect on, “How and Why this specific example of architecture was conceived and built.”

As the student becomes familiar with Traditional Chinese Architecture, s/he will naturally consider why these forms have fallen into desuetude and reflect on whether, “Such a traditional Chinese architectural form can once again become a part of the vernacular of contemporary Chinese architecture.” S/he will compose a three page essay on the topic and present three examples of contemporary buildings that attempt to utilize the Traditional Forms.