Transcending the limitations of physical form: A case study of the Cang Lang Pavilion in Suzhou, China

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This paper attempts to explore the legibility and meanings of traditional Chinese architecture through a specific case study of the Cang Lang Pavilion. The process of architectural creation in pre-modern Chinese society consisted of both physical and literary methods, undertaken by the builders and the literati respectively. The meaning of architecture thus can be formulated independently in text and narrative, thereby instructing daily life. From comparing the social meanings of hall and pavilion, these two structures seem have represented two opposite social dispositions: conformity and dissent. To some extent, the political system, together with social, cultural and intellectual traditions in pre-modern China downplayed the role of architecture in evoking social awareness and promoting various ideologies. However, the literary creation of architecture transcended the limitations of physical form. The legibility of architecture is largely acquired from reading the life and meanings inherent in and beyond physical form.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)691-718
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Architecture
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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