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Students' reaction

There were some inevitable problems, but our students were surprisingly enthusiastic about our approach to teaching Chinese architecture. Here are some of their comments. For more about our teaching experience, see our paper, "Using Virtual Models to Teach Traditional Chinese Wood Construction."

The complex is made simple

Before this assignment, I think Chinese building is very mysterious as it seems to be very complex and [to] have a lot of small elements. When we open a book about this, it is full of complex diagrams and ... unknown Chinese terms.

However, ... in this project ... [t]he [building] process is simple.... I think that I can read some references more easily with this experience of handling this project. (Desmond Tse Kwok Cheung, 1995-96)

The building technology is amazing

From the project, we can see that the way of Chinese building according to Yingzao fashi is really a modulated building system. Once we know the rules..., we can build a large variety of buildings, ... from a small village house ... to a large palace for the emperor.... This is really an amazing building technology. (Victor Fung Chi Hang, 1995-96)

It is better to have a history course first

We have done similar assignment using the Yingzao fashi in the first term [in the CAD course]. However, we knew nothing about traditional Chinese building structure at that time. It seemed to me that I did something that I was totally unfamiliar with. As a result, I learnt nothing. For this time, it is fruitful to do this exercise as we have already obtained basic knowledge about the construction of traditional houses during history courses. We are clear about [the] content of this exercise. (Pery Ho Kin Yun, 1995-96)

I can simulate the whole construction process

I think the programme contributes to my deeper understanding of the basic Chinese building system, especially the roof structure. It is because I have the chance to assemble a whole building myself. And different components can be seen from a more three-dimensional view on the computer. (Rosetta Kwong Mei Ying, 1995-96)

The physical model is still useful

[D]uring this project, the cardboard model help[ed] us a lot in understanding the connections of different pieces and whenever we [had] problems in constructing the virtual model, we [had] to turn to that model. (Florence Chan Lai Shan et al., 1994-95)

There is no gravity

[T]he absence of ... gravity in the virtual model can create some illogical situation, for example, one can place a rafter onto the correct position before constructing the columns or purlins. (Florence Chan Lai Shan et al., 1994-95)

We want to do more research

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)

Chinese and Western construction are completely different

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)

Our ancestors thought carefully

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 Chinese are clever

[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 am proud of my culture

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

We'd like to know what you think of this site. Send your (constructive) comments to Andrew I-kang Li. August 1997.
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