/ The Yingzao fashi project / Teaching materials / Coursework / Reaction / Papers / Who's who / Related sites /

                         / Title page / Introduction / Approach / Assignments / Findings and discussion / Conclusion / Notes & References /

Students' reaction: an observation

Students reacted enthusiastically to the assignments, much more so than we had expected, and were keen to learn more about Chinese architecture. Some of the attraction appeared to be that the learning was self-guided.

[T]his is an interesting assignment for it really gives us the chance of "building a building" and lets us explore on our own. (Ben Poon Ho Sing, 1995-96)

Another reason for enthusiasm seemed to be the intellectual appeal of the construction system itself.

We find this project very interesting because we have learnt [not] only [about] ACAD but also the construction of Chinese architecture. We find the topic--shengqi [a way of introducing curvature by varying the column heights]--that we are doing is very interesting and has great research value. Since the time for this project is too short for us to explore more about shengqi, our group has much interest to carry out the research in the latter time. (Lesley Choi Lai Chun et al., 1994-95)

But the assignment also seems to have struck a chord in our students, all Hong Kong Chinese. They were excited to have discovered the sophistication of this uniquely Chinese construction system, and were proud of their "ancestors" who had developed it.

One thing we find interesting is the underlying principle behind this 'seem to be simple' structure. One will find that it is entirely different from Western architectural construction. We get inspired to a new aspect and stunned to explore it in the foreseeable future. (Wong Yin et al., 1994-95)

In the whole project we find it very interesting to get to know more about the Chinese architecture and construction. We are surprised by the very detailed guidelines of [the] Yingzao fashi and [by] our ancestors who had thought so carefully and wisely about the buildings. We admired the compositions of the buildings which contain thousands of small components [which] fit very well to form a large building. (Chan Kei et al., 1994-95)

The assignments appeared to alter students' preconceived ideas. They often think that Chinese architecture is quaint, arbitrary, and irrelevant, and so when they discover that it is in fact beautiful, logical, and sophisticated, they are pleasantly surprised, even thrilled. To Chinese students following a primarily Western curriculum, this revelation affirms their own heritage, and they identify with it personally.

[Our] interest [in] Chinese architecture is cultivated through the assignment. It is wonderful to see various tiny pieces forming an elegant and beautiful building. There is great logic and thought behind [it].

In our own Song dynasty building, we are fascinated to discover a few things ... which make us feel that the structure is very elegant and [that the] Chinese [are] very clever. (Gabriel Chan et al., 1994-95)

I have not only learned the manual, I [am] also ... proud of the traditional culture of my own country. (Leung Wai Yin, 1995-96)

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