Shanxi Courtyard Dwellings and Hakka Walled Village: A Comparative Study of Wang Family Courtyard and Sam Tung Uk Walled Village


courtyard house
courtyard dwelling
vernacular architecture
Chinese architecture
Chinese culture




Through a historical research on two well-preserved vernacular Chinese dwellings: The Wang Family Courtyard in Shanxi and the Sam Tung Uk Walled Village in Hong Kong, this paper examines the cultural sustainability of architecture in China, and explores what factors have contributed to their success and decline, and what can be learned from their stories. In doing so, the article employs the analytical framework developed in the author’s previous works, that is, architectural form and space, and social and cultural dimensions of the cases. The findings reveal that ancestor worship was a common practice in the two families, hard work and traditional family values had resulted in their success. The abandonment of traditional values and schooling, coupled with social and military instability in the country, along with urban sprawl, destroyed the family unity and businesses, and ultimately caused the moving. The study has implications for the contemporary world beyond China.


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