China’s architectural treasures: the ancient town of Fenghuang

By Stefania Danieli

Together with the fast economic growth of the country, Chinese’s architecture has also been making great changings throughout the last few decades. Even though in recent years, China has welcomes modernity and an increase in futuristic buildings, but they have not forgotten the charm of their historical sites.

The ancient town of Fenghuang was added to the UNESCO World HeritageTentative List in 2008, and it deserves to be mentioned for its amazing landscape and architectural characteristics. I personally had the chance to visit this site in January 2013 (period the pictures in the gallery date back to), and in my personal opinion, this is one of the places in China that certainly worth a visit.

This small town is situated in southern China, in the south-western part of Hunan province, a mountainous region rich of rivers and lakes. “The town site selection, layout planning and construction of Ancient Fenghuang Town have made wonderful use of the mountain landscape and the water flows to create harmonious relationship between human residence and nature. […] Its construction has proved a very practical and scientific exploration in terms of the town site selection as well as layout design and city planning. Following the undulation of the mountainous landscape, the town walls encircle the ridges and span over the ranges while rivers wind along the corridors before flowing out through the town. It is thus by absorbing the artistic philosophy of traditional Chinese garden design and making best of the limited space of the mountain area that the town achieves well-structured layout. Such distinctive building clusters are unique feature of Ancient Fenghuang Town, which has given a full display to the intelligence, talents and enthusiasm of the architects, represented a unique artistic achievement and can be called a creative and genius masterpiece”.

Throughout the years, the ancient town has maintained the original layout during both the Ming and Qing dynasties until today. In the town, there are over 200 ancient residential buildings, as well as small streets, ancient lanes and alleys, town walls, town gate towers, wells, bridges, temples, etc., which are preserved in their original state .

The residential environment features include harmony between human and the mountains, the waters and the town has been preserved in its original form up to now. Thanks to its unique geographical location, Fenghuang never suffered from the destruction of wars and natural disasters in hundreds of years, managing in good condition not only its appearances, but also the local languages, arts and customs of the Miao and Tujia minorities, to which over half of the actual city’s population belongs to.

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Stefania was born and raised in Italy, where she took a BA in Languages and a MA in Business Communication at the University of Perugia. She fluently speaks both Mandarin and English, and by now has been living in China for over two years. Having been raised in a country rich of history and culture like Italy, she has always had a strong interest in art and architecture, which led her right through the Chinese landscape design industry. She is currently working as Marketing Director at Beijing’s based America Leedscape Planning and Design Co. Ltd.

One response to “China’s architectural treasures: the ancient town of Fenghuang

  1. Pingback: Old VS New: The era of New Chinese Style of dwelling architecture | China Architecture Blog·


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