Fengshui â€“ Science, Superstition or Otherness? A Modern Application in Contemporary Architecture
Nov. 15 2008
Originated from ancient China, the theory of Fengshui is often associated with deceitful superstition by Chinese people. Surprisingly, on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, Fengshui is treated as a mysterious yet scientific subject and brought into the academic scene for the theory of post-modernism. In the article â€śFengshui: Its Application in Contemporary Architectureâ€?, Teh Tien Yong claims that Fengshui is a science that contributes to the understanding of both naturalistic and humanistic environment, through studying the flow of subtle energies in the human body and in the earth respectively. In ancient China, Fengshui theory predominate every architectural choice made by people including interior design, placement of buildings, urban plan, etc. As Yong proceeds in his the article, he points out that Fengshui deals with a certain way to perceive natural landscape and human habitants, both supernatural and radical existence of human beings, and fundamental architectural choices related to peopleâ€™s everyday life. In a systematic and meticulous way, Fengshui contemplates the relationship within human body, Earth and Heaven, but quietly interesting has nothing to do with religion or faith. The theory of Fengshui shows scrupulous studies of everyday life, creating its own art of the life and environment, is also bringing out a controversy: should we simply apply Fengshui into modern architecture and urban planning or should we regard it as purely exotic and mysteriously superstitious?
A diagram that shows the essence of Fengshui Ideology.
For architecture designers, the ability to think critically and creatively is essential. When encounter traditional and cultural concepts, architecture designers should be accepting and curious to know any well-established architecture theories, especially the ones that have fundamentally influenced a civilization. Although appeared about 5,000 years ago, Fengshui suggests a profound comprehension about the correlation among human beings, architecture and nature that is even applicable within contemporary society. The strong emphasis of being ecologically friendly and human centered in the theory of Fengshui, shares with many implications of sustainability and environmental design, which is acclaimed as the future of architecture. Approached by different methodologies, both Fengshui and sustainability design favors giving the priority to any architectural choices that are environmental friendly and human centered, regardless of stylistic or aesthetic aspect of architecture. Many implications of Fengshui theory suggest that a great amount of sustainable design problems could be solved thousands of years ago. However, these implications should be conscientiously modified and critically selected to implement the context of contemporary architecture. This process of applying traditional architecture theories into contemporary profession is also an ideal way for architecture designers to expand their mentalities and inspirations.
Fengshui, like traditional Chinese medicine, Tai Chi and many other body-mind practices, has evolved through 5,000 years of Chinese culture. To some extend, these body-mind practices have set up a sense of hierarchy and superstition. However, many elements of these practices are tangible and applicable to the modern civilization. For instance, the concepts of location, building materials, daylight, structure and humidity in Fengshui can perfectly elaborate and implement modern architecture theories. Nowadays, these traditional practices are facing adverse challenges. On one hand, ignorant people in China laugh at these practices and claim themselves as modernized and civilized while having no clue as to their meanings. On the other hand, unqualified practitioners and misinterpreted lectures are misleading some people within these practices. In the procedure of massive globalization and urbanization, these practices are risking being forgotten. Fortunately, the theory of post-modernism intentionally brought these practices into its scenario as post-modernism favors â€śothernessâ€?. Nevertheless, there is still a chance for these practices to be misinterpreted since academia generally is lacking good understanding of Chinese culture.
A standardized system of knowledge and supervision mechanism should be introduced to the world of human-body practices to ensure their survivals. A clearer link should be established between traditional practices and architecture or other disciplines. In this way, the canon of human civilization can be preserved.
The application of Fengshui idea in Chinese Architecture.