The effectiveness of climate adaptation strategies in Chinese traditional courtyard house: a case study of the Yan's courtyard complex in Ningbo

  • Yu Sun

Student thesis: MRes Thesis


Sustainable development is a theory and strategy for the harmonious development of the environment, economy, society, and culture. The study of the Chinese traditional courtyard house, one of the most prevalent types of traditional Chinese buildings, provides the cultural and climate-adapted sustainable development solutions needed for modern architecture.
Traditional courtyard houses are formed, evolved, and shaped by the local climate as well as social and cultural influences. They are a valuable historical and cultural treasure and witnessed the long-term adaptation of working people to nature and the evolution of social life. In order to explore a sustainable development approach to modern architecture, a traditional courtyard house that is adapted to the local culture and environment is used as the subject of
this dissertation's investigation. Both the history and culture and climate adaptation strategies are crucial for the sustainability of modern dwellings, both of which are discussed in this dissertation.

The focus of this dissertation is on Yan's courtyard complex in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, China. A qualitative analysis based on literature research and field studies is used to analyse the history and culture and climate adaptation strategies of traditional courtyard houses. The temperature and humidity of Yan's courtyard complex during the hot and cold seasons are monitored in the field and Ecotect software simulations are employed for assessing the thermal,
lighting, and wind environments of Yan's courtyard complex for the purpose of quantifying the effectiveness of climate adaptation strategies. The dissertation discusses the history, culture and climate adaptation strategies of traditional courtyard houses, with the aim of summarising the sustainable development patterns of courtyard houses. The findings reveal that in order to
improve the living environment, ancient craftsmen took advantage of local natural conditions to build courtyard houses that were tailored to the local climate. The Chinese culture has long sought to unite man and nature, and as a result, ancient Chinese architecture was created with the goal of fostering this relationship and achieving a harmonious coexistence between the two. In the process of adapting to local natural conditions and passing on their culture, people have developed living space solutions that allow local culture and climate adaptation strategies to reinforce each other. The idea of unity with man and nature is embedded in traditional courtyard houses, and climate adaptation strategies enhance the living environment. Extracting useful experiences and solutions from traditional courtyard houses has positive implications for the conservation of traditional courtyard houses as well as the sustainable development of architecture.
Date of AwardJul 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Nottingham
SupervisorGiaime Botti (Supervisor) & Jing Xie (Supervisor)


  • climate adaptation strategies
  • traditional courtyard house
  • physical environment of the building
  • simulation

Cite this