Courtyard Housing and Cultural Sustainability: Theory, Practice, and Product, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Courtyard Housing and Cultural Sustainability

Theory, Practice, and Product, 1st Edition

By Donia Zhang


396 pages

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Cultural sustainability is a very important aspect of the overall sustainability framework and is regarded as the fourth pillar alongside the other three: environmental, economic, and social sustainability. However, the concept is neither fully explored, nor widely accepted or recognized. This book elicits the interplay of nature-culture-architecture and theorizes the concept of cultural sustainability and culturally sustainable architecture. It identifies four key themes in Chinese philosophy: Harmony with Heaven, Harmony with Earth, Harmony with Humans, and Harmony with Self, along with Greek philosopher Aristotle’s physics: form, space, matter, and time, it sets them as criteria to evaluate the renewed and new courtyard housing projects constructed in China since the 1990s. Using an innovative architectural and social science approach, this book examines the political, economic, social, and spatial factors that affect cultural sustainability. Supported by a multiplicity of data including: field surveys, interviews with residents, architects, and planners, time diaries, drawings, photos, planning documents, observation notes, and real estate brochures, the book proposes new courtyard garden house design strategies that promote healthy communities and human care for one another, a concept that is universally applicable. The volume is a first opportunity to take a holistic view, to encompass eastern and western, tangible and intangible, cultures in the theorization of cultural sustainability and culturally sustainable architecture. It is a comprehensive contribution to architectural theory.


"The book is well illustrated with examples of both remnant and new courtyard housing including plans for new housing developments by the author herself. This book will appeal to all interested in heritage and conservation." Urban Design

Table of Contents

Contents: Foreword, Ronald G. Knapp; Prologue; Introduction: lost link between Heaven and Earth; Part I Cultural Sustainability: Four pillars of sustainable development: courtyard housing and cultural sustainability; Four key themes in Chinese philosophy on city planning and courtyard house design. Part II Classical Courtyard Houses of China: Form and environmental quality, space and construction quality of classical courtyard houses; Matters of social cohesion, time and cultural activities in classical courtyard houses. Part III New Courtyard Housing: Historic preservation and modernization of classical courtyard houses; Harmony with Heaven: form and environmental quality of the new courtyard housing; Harmony with Earth: space and construction quality of the new courtyard housing; Harmony with humans: matters of social cohesion in the new courtyard housing; Harmony with self: time and cultural activities in the new courtyard housing. Part IV Culturally Sustainable Architecture: Four cornerstones of culturally sustainable architecture. Part V Future New Courtyard Garden Houses: Conclusion: in search of paradise; Epilogue; Appendix; References; Index.

About the Author

Donia Zhang is a graduate of Oxford Brookes University (BArch, MA, PhD) in the UK and Brock University (MEd) in Canada. She has worked in the architectural industry for 7 years, taught art history and AutoCAD, among other subjects, in Ontario. She has published two other books: Courtyard Houses of Beijing: Past, Present, and Future (2009/2010/2011), and Schoolyard Gardening as Multinaturalism: Theory, Practice, and Product (2009).

About the Series

Design and the Built Environment

Design and the Built Environment

Urban design is an expanding discipline bridging the gaps between the established built environment professions of architecture, planning, surveying, landscape architecture, and engineering. In this position, urban design also borrows from, and contributes to, academic discourse in areas as diverse as urban geography, sociology, public administration, cultural studies, environmental management, conservation and urban regeneration.

This series provides a means to disseminate more substantive urban and environmental design research. Specifically, contributions will be welcomed which are the result of original empirical research, scholarly evaluation, reflection on the practice and the process of urban design, and critical analysis of particular aspects of the built environment. Volumes should be of international interest and may reflect theory and practice from across one or more of the spatial scales over which urban design operates, from environmental and spatial design of settlements, to a concern with large areas of towns and cities - districts or quarters, to consideration of individual developments, urban spaces and networks of spaces, to the contribution of architecture in the urban realm.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / City Planning & Urban Development