chapter  3
21 Pages

Traditional urban forms

China’s long-standing culture and society are embedded within the evolution of elaborate and stylized urban forms established perhaps as early as the age of Confucius, 2,500 years ago, and have survived to the present. Cities were built not only as spatial expressions of the cultural and social divisions among different groups, but also as what Kevin Lynch (1984) has called “cosmic cities” that translate spiritual beliefs into the very layout of the city. How did the internal form and structure of China’s walled cities develop? This chapter explores the evolution of China’s urban walls, markets, districts, and institutions. It emphasizes the persistence of ancient forms and ideals alongside the changes and upheavals that took place over more than two millennia.