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Introduction to modern China - the relationship between Chinese architecture and urban culture: Beijing

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  1. Presentation of Beijing and its history
  2. The principles of Chinese traditional architecture: Chinese architecture and Chinese society
  3. The principles of Chinese traditional architecture: Chinese architecture and philosophy
  4. Modern Beijing

Beijing has not originated as the capital of China. As early as history can date back, the city was not even called Beijing. It was always known as the ?Northern Capital' in China. This was how Beijing was called and known prior to the rule of the third Ming emperor, Yongle, who then declared Beijing as the capital of the Middle Kingdom in the 15th century. Therefore, it is from the early 15th century, that Beijing has gained much significance and is regarded as one of the most important cities of China. The credit goes to the ?Sons of Heaven' (the Chinese emperors) who used to rule the country from length and breadth of the Forbidden City (Morgenstern, 1989, 23-25). Due to this great conquest, many stunning and astonishing temples and palaces were built in Beijing and I shall be analyzing some of the monuments as architectural achievements. This essay will be divided into four parts. In the first part, I shall focus my attention on a brief description on the history of the city. Thereafter, I shall be dwelling into the Chinese traditional principles of architecture especially targeting Beijing's major architectural achievements (including the Forbidden City for instance). I will be relating these architectural developments to the Chinese society, its philosophy and in a wider sense the urban culture and its development in China. Lastly I shall describe the modernization of the city and its architecture, as well as that of its urban culture and political organization in the second part of the 20th century.

[...] Today Beijing remains the capital of China and one of the most important Chinese cities. It has a population of about 7.5 million of people and the 4th highest density in China (888/km²). It is also a very rich town which has the second highest GDP per capita (Gross Domestic Product) and HDI (Human Development Index) in China (wikipedia). It results from this that it is the wealthiest city in China after Shanghai. II) The principles of Chinese traditional architecture: Chinese architecture and Chinese society It results from what we have seen that architecture and politics used to be closely linked in China. [...]

[...] As a result the architecture of Beijing aimed above all to reflect the power of the dynasties that ruled it. The gigantic scale at which the Ming tombs (which is not too far from Beijing) and the Forbidden City were built is a good illustration of the fact that Chinese emperors wanted to build impressive buildings that would mirror their power. However these impressive achievements were not always huge complexes. Chinese emperors also wanted to show their wealth and power by the beauty of their achievements. [...]

[...] I think that this idea applies to many palaces and temples in Beijing (i.e. The Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, etc.) which may be regarded above all as stunning artistic achievements. References Bussagli, Mario. Oriental architecture. Volume 2. Chapter Three (London : Faber c1981). Encarta Encyclopedia. French version. Article : ?Pékin?. Doulet, Jean-François. ?Quand les villes chinoises viennent au monde? in the French periodical called Urbanisme 341, March-April 2005). About urbanization in China. Fulong, Wu. "Mobilités résidentielles, relogement et différenciation socio-spatiales" in the French periodical called Urbanisme 341, March-April 2005). [...]

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